NEW YORK — Back in the day, if Barbra Streisand made one vocal error or found one problem while recording a song, she'd toss the whole thing.
"If I didn't like that one word, I wouldn't release the record," the 70-year-old said in a recent interview. "Because in those days ... we did take one, take two, take three. We made albums in three days. Twelve songs. We didn't have this digital way."
Now, because of her perfectionism, she has a case full of unreleased material, and she's decided to share it with the world.
"Release Me," a collection of Streisand songs she recorded in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, is out Tuesday. It also includes the new song "If It's Meant to Be," written by her longtime friends and collaborators, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, recorded last year.
Besides the new album, Streisand is readying another duets album and a launching a U.S. tour on Thursday in Philadelphia. She talked with The Associated Press about it all, including politics.
AP: How's does it feel to finally release this music?
Streisand: It feels liberating. It's really interesting because I don't listen to my records after I make them. I am so sick of them because you have to listen to them over and over, in a car, with good speakers, bad speakers. I get so sick of it that I never hear anything. But I had this black case in my house for so long called "Unreleased songs." Listening to some of them again I thought, "God, I was hard on myself."
AP: How many songs are in that black case?
Streisand: I have another album or two. ... I really wasn't aware of how many things I had in there, between films and videotapes and TV shows. I actually never (have) been to my vaults, can you imagine? I just see them in pictures.
AP: What would Barbra now say to Barbra back then?
Streisand: Be easier on yourself. A lot of these things were done in one take; we don't have a choice and I didn't want to fix it. I didn't want to go in and fix things.
AP: You're returning to your hometown, Brooklyn, N.Y., for your tour at the new Barclays Center. How does that feel?
Streisand: It's like a coming home. It's coming back to my roots. It's where I was born. It was where I was raised. I didn't go into Manhattan 'til I was 14 years old. I didn't even know it existed. I thought the world was just Brooklyn.
AP: Do you remember first going into Manhattan?
Streisand: I'll never forget that moment taking the subway to see the theater 'cause I wanted to be an actress. ... Just what was happening in that city, my God. So exciting for me as a 14-year-old.
AP: What can people expect from the tour?
Streisand: A lot of songs I've never sung live before. Some songs I wrote, even. I wrote a song in "A Star Is Born" — "Evergreen" became the hit — but not the other song, "Lost Inside of You," that I wrote with Leon Russell, and now we just recorded it for the duets album. Haven't picked who's going to sing the duet yet. But it's really cool. I'm working with Babyface. ... (Babyface) is fantastic. I hope people can sing as good as him because ... he's just fabulous.
AP: What did you think of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions?
Streisand: I am glued. ... I watch news shows — MSNBC, CNN. Thank God (President Barack) Obama's pulling ahead because it's a clear choice, you know, in my opinion. If you want to survive as a planet, recognize that there is climate change and you want to protect your food and your air and your water from pesticides, chemicals, you want to focus on education and young people and giving health care to the public — there's no choice.
AP: Are there any contemporary musicians who are impressing you?
Streisand: I haven't had time to listen. When I finish an album like "Release Me" and now working on the duets album, believe me, I never turn on the radio. I only listen to news; something that concerns the whole country and world.
Mesfin Fekadu covers music for The Associated Press. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/musicmesfin