BetteBack December 1, 1977: The Origins Of “Dusty’s Tune”

Yuma Daily Sun
December 1, 1977


The melody had been haunting Dustin Hoffman for years. Then he asked Bette Midler to write some words that would go with the tune.

“He asked me if I could write the lyrics to his melody,” Bette recalled.

“I said I could, but inside I felt nervous, because the song was so precious to him.”

Hoffman wrote the song 20 years’ago, after a girl jilted him.

He’ll be playing it – with Bette singing her own lyrics – when he appears as her guest on “The Bette Midler Special,” to be telecast on NBC Wednesday (Dec. 7).

The song starts as “Dusty’s Tune” and becomes “Shoot the Breeze” (two sets of words to the same melody).

“I was very impressed w i t h t h e b e a u t i f u l melody,” said Bette. “I gave it to four of my writers, and I wrote lyrics to it, too. Then I gave D u s t in e v e r y b o d y ‘s version, including mine.”

None of the lyrics were signed.

“He liked mine best,” said Bette.

Oddly enough, the introductory verse was the hardest.

“I wrestled w i t h ‘Dusty’s Tune,'” said Bette. “I broke my neck on it. I couldn’t find the middle part. I wrote and
re-wrote. It just didn’t come. A week later I wrote ‘Shoot the Breeze’ at one sitting.

“It’s a song about quiet desperation.” explained Bette. It’s about someone who’s trapped – not a gigantic trap, but a little trap. It’s a song about helplessness and setting y o u r s e lf f r e e f r om helplessness.

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