JOEL’S TOP TEN REASONS WHY BETTE MIDLER IS THE BALLAD QUEEN OF THE WORLD
Posted on March 10, 2008 by vacationboy
1. God Give Me Strength (written by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach)
WHY? I first heard this song on the duet album the two writers did years ago and it was my immediate favorite on the project, then I later heard itÂ in the movie “Grace Of My Heart” sung by Illeana Douglas’ character. Both productions of the song were great, and I have to say Elvis’ vocalsÂ were stunning on it, but when Bette sang it on her “Bette” CD, her skills as an actress came alive and you could just feel the pain of rejectionÂ and the ache of loneliness in her voice.
BEST LINE: “”¦maybe I’ve been washed out like a lip-print on a shirt, you see I’m only human, I want him to hurt”¦.”
2. HELLO IN THERE (Written by John Prine)
WHY? I love songs that are snapshots of life or of the world. Bette sings a lot of them and this is one of the best. (See my concert review)
BEST LINE: “”¦don’t just pass ’em by and stare, as if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello.”
3. TO DESERVE YOU (written by Maria McKee)
WHY? Vulnerability. Bette is not a young woman anymore but she doesn’t seem to be afraid to say that or to sing songs reflecting the fears,Â disappointment and pains of growing older. While I tend to prefer the writer’s rendition of a song, even if their vocal abilities are lacking, IÂ heard Maria McKee’s version of this song and wondered how in the world Bette heard this song and made it the moving piece that she did.
BEST LINE: “I didn’t want you to see me like this, the light of the dawn can be cruel”¦.” Oh!
4. THE GLORY OF LOVE (written by Billy Hill)
WHY? Did you see Beaches? Only Bette could take a sweet little ditty like this and turn it into a heart-wrenching ballad. I forgot to mentionÂ it in my review of her concert, but she sang it sitting on the edge of the stage, accompanying herself on the ukelele. It was magic.
BEST LINE: “”¦that’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.”
5. BOXINGÂ (written by Ben Folds)
WHY? A song about boxing seems like an unlikely vehicle for Bette and yet she pulls it off. Quite nicely, actually. This song, supposedlyÂ written as a conversation between Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell, didn’t hit me at first, but she brings such a wryness to this song that I
find quite haunting and beautiful. Whatever ”“ it works. Bette makes it her own.
BEST LINE: “Boxing’s been good to me, Howard, but now I’m told I’m growing a old”¦a couple of years I’ll be through – has boxingÂ been good to you?”
6. LAUGHING MATTERS (written by Dick Gallagher and Mark Waldrop)
WHY? This song expresses what so many of us feel about the world around us. Bette executes with a hint of irony and good oleÂ fashioned showmanship. This song sounds like a broadway showtune and she treats it as such.
BEST LINE: All of them. Great lyric. Great play on a hook.
7. TO COMFORT YOU (written by Ian Thomas)
WHY? I love this wistful tone in Bette’s voice, the lower tones just make me melt. The writer puts into words what I’ve wanted to say toÂ friends on many occasions.
BEST LINE: “I’d love to be the reason a smile comes to your face, even if it doesn’t last too long”¦.”
8. ONE FOR MY BABY, ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD (written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer)
WHY? A great song and a great singer, but she is forever in television history by bringing Johnny Carson to tears with herÂ performance on his very last night on the Tonight Show. Youtube it. Her facial expressions alone show why she is the divaÂ that she is.
9. COLOR OF ROSES (written by Beth Neilsen Chapman and Matt Rollings)
WHY? One of the more complex ballads and yet she effortlessly glides through it. This song gets to me. Beth Neisen Chapman’s great lyricsÂ breaks one of the cardinal rules of songwriting by using the title only in the bridge of the song”¦and yet it’s so effective and so moving that IÂ don’t mind.
BEST LINE(S): “gravity throws all these rules in our way, but sometimes the spirit refuses to play”¦” and “add my regrets to the tearsÂ in the rain cause that’s what the color of roses contain”¦”
10. I THINK IT’S GOING TO RAIN TODAY (written by Randy Newman)
WHY? If you think “Wind Beneath My Wings” was the only great song in Beaches, think again.
BEST LINE: “human kindness is overflowing”¦and I think it’s gonna rain today”¦”
There you have it. I’m very proud that I narrowed it down to 10. Go to itunes NOW!
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