Photo: Neil Preston
The Philippine Star
Bette the singer
By Baby A. Gil
Bette Midler is such a wonderful actress people often forget she is a great
song artist, too. Think Wind Beneath My Wings from the movie Beaches or In
My Life from the soundtrack of For the Boys. Maybe it is because she is an
actress that she is able “to locate the heart of a song and touch the heart
of the listener.” That is how Barry Manilow, who played piano for Bette
during their early days, describes her in his note on the cover of the
album Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook.
Produced by Barry and Robbie Buchanan, the album has Bette paying tribute
to one of the greatest girl singers of all time. Barry continues, “Rosemary
Clooney also had this gift. When I was thinking about who we could pay
tribute to and at the same time, reinvent these splendid songs Rosemary
first introduced to the world, Bette was my first .and only choice.”
When I was a child, long before I became aware of Ella or Billie or Peggy,
there already was Rosemary. She must have been my mother’s favorite because
the radio seemed to play her songs all the time and one of my earliest
memories was hearing my Mom humming Tenderly around the house. Then I saw
White Christmas and maybe because she looked good in that red costume, I
thought she was the star of the movie and not Bing Crosby. I came to
appreciate her more as I grew up, marveling at the sureness of her tones,
that unique catch in the throat in her singing, the warmth in her voice. I
enjoy listening to Ella and the other females in that esteemed company but
Rosie’s CDs gets played more often in my room.
Bette does not sound like Rosie but she comes close. She radiates sincerity
in every word and I get goosebumps listening to the beautiful songs they
chose to include in the album, each one rearranged and mixed to perfection.
You’ll Never Know, This Ole House, On a Slow Boat to China, a rousing
number where Bette duets with Barry, Hey There, Tenderly, Come On-A My
House, Mambo Italiano, Sisters, a duet with another girl singer I admire a
lot, Linda Ronstadt, Memories of You, In the Cool, Cool Cool of the Evening
and White Christmas.
The only gripe I have about this album is that there are only 11 cuts. I
want more. I want more Rosie songs sang by Bette and produced by Barry and
Robbie. Where are Half as Much, Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me, Mixed
Emotions or Count Your Blessings. I am sure they could have even thought of
doing something new to reinvent Rosie’s Botch-a-Me. But when you think of
all the love and artistry that went into every song, I say 11 is more than
I am sure lots of you out there will enjoy this one.