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 Douglasâ€™ character. Both productions of the song were great, and I have to say Elvisâ€™ 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: “â€¦maybe Iâ€™ve been washed out like a lip-print on a shirt, you see Iâ€™m only human, I want him to hurtâ€¦.”
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: “â€¦donâ€™t just pass â€™em by and stare, as if you didnâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 writerâ€™s rendition of a song, even if their vocal abilities are lacking, IÂ heard Maria McKeeâ€™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 didnâ€™t want you to see me like this, the light of the dawn can be cruelâ€¦.” 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: “â€¦thatâ€™s the story of, thatâ€™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, didnâ€™t hit me at first, but she brings such a wryness to this song that I
find quite haunting and beautiful. Whatever â€“ it works. Bette makes it her own.
BEST LINE: “Boxingâ€™s been good to me, Howard, but now Iâ€™m told Iâ€™m growing a oldâ€¦a couple of years Iâ€™ll be through â€” 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 Betteâ€™s voice, the lower tones just make me melt. The writer puts into words what Iâ€™ve wanted to say toÂ friends on many occasions.
BEST LINE: “Iâ€™d love to be the reason a smile comes to your face, even if it doesnâ€™t last too longâ€¦.”
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 Chapmanâ€™s great lyricsÂ breaks one of the cardinal rules of songwriting by using the title only in the bridge of the songâ€¦and yet itâ€™s so effective and so moving that IÂ donâ€™t mind.
BEST LINE(S): “gravity throws all these rules in our way, but sometimes the spirit refuses to playâ€¦” and “add my regrets to the tearsÂ in the rain cause thatâ€™s what the color of roses containâ€¦”
10. I THINK ITâ€™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 overflowingâ€¦and I think itâ€™s gonna rain todayâ€¦”
There you have it. Iâ€™m very proud that I narrowed it down to 10. Go to itunes NOW!
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