I always thought Hurricane was “hit worthy”. I used to play it on ‘Classic Disco Sundays’ when I was a fill-in DJ way back in the 90s.
Why wasn’t it a hit?
Rumor has it that, during the release party for one of the single off of her new album, an exhausted Bette Midler was verbally accosted by a radio DJ who didn’t like the new song. Apparently, he was waving the 45 record in her face, so Bette snatched it out of his hand, threw it on the floor, smashed it with her heel, and told him, “Well then don’t play it!” The humiliated and angry DJ vowed to never play another Bette Midler song on his station again. That was that.
In honor of Bette Midler’s birthday, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Bette songs. You won’t find Wind Beneath My Wings or The Rose on this list. They’re both great tunes, but we’ve all heard them a million times. Instead, I’d like to share some of the lesser known, but equally good tracks.
I didn’t really pay attention to Bette until I heard a radio interview sometime in 1980. I was a lost fifteen year old. I had few friends because I had no social skills. During this interview she recited the following quote…
“What’s underneath the mask isn’t as important as the mask that you choose to wear. That’s the true indication of your imagination and your spirit.”
That quote gave me the courage to be the person I wanted to be. I started making new friends, I got my first part-time, after school job, and a year later I came out. Surprise! 😉
My unofficial introduction to Bette Midler was her 1972 remake of Bobby Freeman’s “Do You Want To Dance”, which appeared on her debut album, “The Divine Miss M”. The slower tempo gives it a more sultry feel than the original. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood the deeper sexual themes of Bette’s version. It remains a favorite.
The third cut on Bette’s debut album, which also includes a beautiful cover of theEthel Waters standard “Am I Blue”, is a percussion heavy, 1960s style rock/soul tune called “Daytime Hustler”. It’s the style of song you’d expect to hear from an artist like Tina Turner. With lyrics like, “Fancy money doesn’t buy my love. Flashy Cadillacs won’t make me f❇k. I’ve been hustled by the best of them, and you ain’t nothing but a crazy, crazy man…” It’s a fun song.
On the other end of the spectrum from Skylark, is “Breaking up somebody’s home”, also from Bette’s second album. This is one of those little known gems that got buried in the past. It’s bluesy, raw, and more than a little bit sexy. You probably won’t hear this song at a wedding reception. …at least I hope not.
Bette was sick during the filming of Divine Madness, You can hear it in her voice. But the cameras, lighting and sound equipment were already paid for and the auditorium was booked. Canceling production would have cost millions. So they pumped her up with Vitamin C and sent her on stage. Yet, in my opinion, the Divine Madness performance of “Stay With Me Baby” is the best.