October 28, 2005
The other night, I was trying to remember when Karen Carpenter, the soothing-voice singer, died. It was 1983, turns out. She was 32. Then, I had to haul out the one Carpenters CD I have and listen to “Superstar,” a great song. Bette Midler’s version is fine, and I remember hearing Bonnie Bramlett, who wrote the lyrics, sing it too (the music is by Leon Russell). Still, Karen Carpenter’s version is hauntingly pretty.
I’m not sure I always understood all the Eagles were going for in “Desperado,” but it’s a song I like listening to. “Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy!/ She’ll beat you if she’s able.” All righty, then.
“Delta Dawn” is an odd song too. Remember how good it was when Tanya Tucker sang it? The best version I’ve ever heard, though, is by Ms. Midler. Girlfriend can sell a story song such as John Prine’s “Hello in There” or “Delta Dawn.” I like when she introduces the latter by saying she’s going to sing Helen Reddy’s biggest hit — Reddy’s version being draggy and unfeeling. Blessedly, she seems to have disappeared. Reddy, I mean.
Midler has a new album in which she sings the Peggy Lee songbook. She has done a Rosemary Clooney tribute CD too. I wonder if she’ll ever honor Britney or the Horsewoman? How hard could it be?
Odd patch of a song lyric from “Delta Dawn”: “She’s 41, and her daddy still calls her ‘baby.’ ”