Composer Michael Barr dies at 82

Songwriter's work recorded by Streisand, Dearie

Composer Michael Barr, whose songs were recorded by artists including Barbra Streisand and Blossom Dearie, died May 19 in Hollywood of complications from diabetes. He was 82.

Barr’s early jazz composition “Kicks” was recorded by June Christy and Billy May for Capitol Records. In 1956, he began a long collaboration with the late lyricist Dion McGregor and their song “Try Your Wings,” written for Dearie’s first Verve album that year, was recently featured on the soundtrack of the 2003 film “My Life Without Me” and was also recorded by Anita O’Day. Dearie recorded another of their songs, “Hello Love,” in 1960, and Joel Grey recorded their songs “Be My Next” and “Sawdust Dreams” for Capitol.

In 1965, Streisand chose their song “Where Is The Wonder” for her debut album “My Name Is Barbra.”

Barr, who was born in Vincennes, Ind., was introduced to McGregor by actor-singer Carleton Carpenter. The three of them later collaborated on the musical “Twofer,” which had a production in Los Angeles staged by actress Lurene Tuttle.

 Barr was also known for having tape-recorded, over an eight-year period, McGregor’s humorous “somniloquies,” or sleep-talks, in which McGregor would narrate stories while sound asleep. The transcripts were published in 1964 as “The Dream World of Dion McGregor,” with illustrations by Edward Gorey. Record producer Milt Gabler actually spent two nights in the small Manhattan apartment shared by Barr and McGregor to make sure that the dreams were authentic, and then released an LP of the tapes on Decca Records.

More recently, Barr released further CDs of the dream tapes, and was working on a film musical and a documentary about the dreams.

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