Songwriters series continues at Balsam Inn…

From the Smokey Mountain News:

On March 9, Alex Harvey will present a rare Sunday evening show at the inn and will bring along his recently released CD, Live at the Balsam Mountain Inn. His songwriting credits include “Delta Dawn” (recorded by Helen Reddy, Tanya Tucker, and Bette Midler), “Reuben James” (Kenny Rogers), “Making Music for Money” (Jimmy Buffet), “Somebody New” (Billy Ray Cyrus), and more.

Mr. Harvey has had this to say about Miss M’s version of “Delta Dawn”…I know she was disappointed:

“I cut the song in Nashville for my first Capitol album. One of the background singers on that session was Tracy Nelson, who had her own band, Mother Earth. She got booked at the Bottom Line in New York City, and added ‘Delta Dawn’ to her act. A fan of hers, Bette Midler, heard the tune and was hypnotized by it. She came every night and learned the song exactly the way Tracy did it. Bette then began to perform the song at the Continental Baths in New York. It got an immediate reaction. She sang the song three different times on the Johnny Carson show.

“Billy Sherrill, who worked for Columbia-Epic, had a thirteen-year-old girl named Tanya Tucker under contract. He was going to produce her, but hadn’t yet chosen any material. Once he heard Bette do ‘Delta Dawn’ on TV, he knew the song could be a smash. So, right after the release of Bette’s first album, The Divine Miss M, he put out a country version by Tanya.

Well, that single began to take off. Then, Tom Catalano, who was producing Barbra Streisand, decided that Barbra could cut ‘Delta Dawn’ for the pop market and have a big hit. In her absence, he cut an instrumental backing track, brought her down to the studio, and then played it for her. She didn’t like the tune, and refused to put her voice on it. So, Wally Schuster — a song plugger for United Artists Music — called up Jeff Wald and asked if Helen might be interested. They made a deal, Helen put her voice on the track, and the rest was history. Helen’s single took off immediately in the summer of 1973.

“I think ‘Delta Dawn’ became a hit primarily because of all the exposure that it was given on the Tonight Show. The song was rightfully Bette Midler’s hit. It was her image, and would have been a great image builder for her, especially in light of the mystique that she carries around with her today. The Reddy record came out two days before Bette was to release her version as a 45. Bette’s record then had to be flipped, making ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ the A side, and her ‘Delta Dawn’ was forgotten.”

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