BetteBack: The Neil Sedaka Special

There’s a-tiine to write and a time to perform;’ Right now Neil Sedaka is performing.’

“I dont write during this time;” said the sorigwritersinger. “I just listen to as much music as I can during the year when I’m on tour, and I store away things in my subconscious. I will do my. writing and recording this coming December, January, February and March.”

Sedaka was discussing his songs while taping his special, “Neil Sedaka Steppin’ Out,” airing Friday, Sept. 17, 9 to 10
p.m., on NBC-TV. “My best time for writing is from noon to five,” he said. “When I write, I write daily. It’s a discipline. You have to make it a job. But the most important thing when I write is to please myself.”

Sedaka indicated that he would not finish a song, however, that he didn’t feel close to. “Songs are like children – they live and breathe when you perform them,” he said. “Some haunt you .through the years. Some make you happy. I’ve never lost the excitement of hearing my songs on radio, whether performed by me or someone else.”

One of Neil’s guest on the special is popular singerperformer Bette Midler, who sometimes thinks of herself as the first female singer-comic since Mae West. “I got a lot of inspiration from Mae West,” she said. “When I first started working, a friend brought one of her records over. Through it all, Mae .West was a source of pleasure. I loved her. She was quite marvelous. She was also quite independent, which I liked. So the first time I worked on television I did one of her songs. I’ve also been compared to Barbra Streisand. That’s flattering, although I don’t see the comparison myself.”

Ms. Midler’s parents, obviously, were not thinking of Mae West when Bette was born; she was named for Bette Davis
(but slie pronounces her first name as if it didn’t have an “e” on the end).

“My mother was very showbiz,” said Bette. “Not my father. His idea of showbiz is Lawrence Welk. He adores Lawrence Welk. My mother loved television. She used to send us to the movies and she was very particular about the kinds of movies she’d send us to. No dramas. No horror movies. As a result, I never saw a horror movie until I was 22 years old.
My folks, you see, liked hula dancing, but not the darker things in life.”

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