Part of what makes Ms. Midler so divine is her choice in material to sing. And how I love to promote the singer/songwriter. Here are 3 examples of stellar music makers who’ve lent their talent to Bette for interpretation. But they are performers in their own right, too. Currently, these CD’s are just out except for Beth Nielsen Chapman’s. I believe it is due to be released June 7th, however I bought the import and you can buy it thru her website.
Of course, Mr. John Prine, has been around forever and wrote Bette’s favorite song (that she recorded), “Hello In There.” From his own Oh Boy Records comes this description of the new CD: Drawing on Prine’s incomparable sweetness, his wicked wit and social commentary and his split rail simplicity, Fair & Square turns on the phases of the human heart — and the way the people getting by live, dream, love and survive their lives. With the occasional wheezing accordion, curlicue electric guitar parts, quick-wristed mandolins, billowing B-3 pads and puddles of pedal steel guitar, the rough-voiced singer/songwriter’s first self-produced record is a homey affair that draws generously from the palette of traditional American music — be it folk, bluegrass, shuffles, almost vintage rock & roll, torch, country — for an amalgamation that would be at home on any Wurlitzer in a whiskey-soaked tavern with beer signs flickering from age and the walls stained deeper than sepia from the years of constant smoke.
Next up is Maria Mckee. She wrote 2 songs that Bette recorded for “Bette of Roses.” One of the songs is probably Bette’s best recorded song ever…should have been a huge hit….the majestic, “To Deserve You.” She also wrote “The Last Time”…probably the most interesting and surprising song performances Bette ever recorded…and she pulled it off brilliantly.
Here’s a little info on Ms. McKee’s new CD: Singer-songwriter Maria McKee takes a more organic approach on her sixth album. Most tracks start with the faint strum of an acoustic guitar or the tinkling of a piano, before gradually building to a restrained but emotionally charged crescendo. McKee revels in this less-is-more musical environment. Her multioctave voice moans, hovers, whispers, and occasionally soars with a cool confidence. From the yearning folk augmented with subtle, tender strings of “Appalachian Boy,” to “Sullen Soul,” a powerful riff-driven ballad, to the stylized, Patsy Cline-influenced country-pop of “You Don’t Know How Glad I Am,” she floats and weaves with edgy grace. The aching, soulful “Turn Away” is a riveting example of McKee at her finest, clawing her way into the heart of a song.
Some melodies don’t resonate on first listen but gradually take hold, and are aided immensely by the spare, generally acoustic instrumentation. When McKee kicks into a gritty, strangulated Neil Young guitar on “Everybody’s Got a Story” before shifting into his “Barstool Blues” (the album’s only cover) the effect is galvanizing. Always a dramatic singer, McKee’s heart is obviously in this rootsy, often austere music, and her passionate performances on Peddlin’ Dreams resonate with tenderness and intensity. –Hal Horowitz
Last but not least, Beth Nielsen Chapman….Bette covered her “Color of Roses.” This is one of my all time favorite ballads Bette has turned in…she even built a whole episode on the song for her short-lived TV series, “Bette!.” Bette has hung out with Ms. Chapman in the past while visiting Nashville. If you look closely at a lot of Bette’s records, you’ll notice that many of her better songs originate from the Nashville community.
Here’s a little on Ms. Chapman’s new CD: Another superb album from the wonderfully talented BNC. As with “Sand & Water’ (1997) & ‘Deeper Still’ (2002) the poignancy & feeling that can only truly come through personal experience is there for all those brave enough to let down their guards to feel. Encouragingly BNC is currently one of several superb singer-songwriters who are capable of consistent high-class output. One of several, but BNC is the best & this album is further proof. Sanctuary. 2004.