NEW YORK – Barbra Streisand (search) and Barry Gibb (search) hadn't worked together in 25 years. But Gibb still knew the best way to express what Streisand was thinking — especially when it came to the war in Iraq.
The result was "Stranger in a Strange Land (search)," written by Gibb for Streisand's new album, "Guilty Pleasures."
"I loved the first stanza, because to me this war is kind of senseless, and I don't know why we're there," Streisand told The Associated Press.
"Just the sadness of, we're there, but don't want to have those people in harm's way, and yet we do have to support (the troops). It's kind of painful, and I had always imagined just seeing footage of the troops, it's like history repeating itself — here we are again. That was the meaning to me."
Streisand and Gibb first worked together on her best-selling 1980 album "Guilty," which contained hits like the title track and "Woman In Love." Streisand calls that album "really the easiest album I ever made."
"Barry is so talented that he can write songs and produce them and make the tracks and sing the background," she said.
Their new collaboration debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard albums chart, selling more than 101,000 copies. When asked why it took so long to reunite, Streisand had a simple answer: "Because times flies."
While the album contains romantic duets and ballads tailor-made for the legend's soaring voice, "Stranger In a Strange Land" may be the most compelling track simply because of its subject matter. Though it never mentions Iraq, its message is clear from the opening verse: "You may be someone else's sweetheart, fighting someone else's war, and if you suffer for the millions, then it's what you're fighting for."
While few mainstream artists infuse current political events in their music, Streisand wasn't worried about alienating anyone.
"I never think about that, I just think about the song itself," she said. "If I believe in something, than I just say, let it out there."
Of course, Streisand, a liberal Democrat, has never been one to shy away from politics. She regularly updates her Web site with scathing missives against the Bush administration and articles that underscore her views.
Her Web site is one of the few ways Streisand expresses herself in public these days. She rarely speaks to the media, and her artistic endeavors are limited: her appearance in last year's blockbuster comedy "Meet the Fockers," with Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman, was the Oscar-winner's first movie since 1996.
Making the film did inspire her to relaunch her movie career — but only to a certain point.
"I'd actually like to direct a movie that I was not in. It was interesting, to go back to the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd," she laughs. "(But) you have to get up early. I'm spoiled, living my free life."
Not that her time is all that free. She's building a home-away-from home on her estate, a barn with a screening room, gym, and even a doll shop to showcase her antique finds. The project was started more than a year ago, and is only half finished.
When she finally completes it, she hopes to turn her attention to a new project — not in movies or in music, but a book: Her life story. That is, if anyone is interested.
"Sometimes when I think about it — who wants to relive my life?" she asks. "(But) it would be nice to set the record straight about the truth. I'm an advocate of the truth. To me it's so much more powerful and interesting than peop le making up stories about you."