BootLeg Betty

Video: MARTHA (Tom Waits) by Sam Harris as “Tom Frost” (Bette Midler’s version included along with a snippet of Rolling Stone talking about the performance.)


Sam Harris sings Martha

Mister D: I just love the way Sam Harris covers songs associated with Bette Midler. You can  tell he is very influenced by her. And it shows.



MARTHA
Music & Lyrics, Tom Waits

Operator, number please, it’s been so many years
Will she remember my old voice while I fight the tears
Hello, hello there, is this Martha, this is old Tom Frost
And I am calling long distance, don’t worry ’bout the cost
Cause it’s been forty years or more, now Martha please recall
Meet me out for coffee, where we’ll talk about it all

And those were the days of roses, of poetry and prose
And Martha all I had was you and all you had was me
There was no tomorrows, we packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day

And I feel so much older now, and you’re much older too
How’s your husband, and how’s your kids,
you know that I got married too
Lucky that you found someone to make you feel secure
Cause we were all so young and foolish, now we are mature

And those were the days of roses, of poetry and prose
And Martha all I had was you and all you had was me
There was no tomorrows, we packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day

And I was always so impulsive, I guess that I still am
And all that really mattered then was that I was a man
I guess that our being together was never meant to be
And Martha, Martha, I love you, can’t you see

And those were the days of roses, of poetry and prose
And Martha all I had was you and all you had was me
There was no tomorrows, we packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day

And I remember quiet evenings, trembling close to you

Written by: Tom Waits
Published by: Fifth Floor Music Inc. (ASCAP), ©1973
Official album release: “Closing Time”


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Bette Midler sings Martha

ROLLING STONE:

Timothy White (1979): “As Bette and I order dinner, I think aloud about her appearance last May on Saturday Night Live. Poured into a sleek white dress covered with jagged black spots, she had treated the studio audience to a disco-driven rendition of “Married Men,” the single from her latest LP, Thighs, and Whispers. She resembled some manic she-devil — half woman, half jungle cat — as she slithered and snarled to the torrid dance tempo. Ruffling her unruly blond tresses, Midler carried on with vintage vigor, supported by a phalanx of backup singers whose garish costumes (satin wedding gowns, black tails) and cocky grins were of a piece with the Divine Miss M’s trademarks of hot flash and sassy trash. But when she stepped from the shadows for her second song, her racy attire had been replaced by a simple black smock and tights, and there was a vulnerability in her humble demeanor. She stated she wanted to do a song written by her friend Tom Waits, and in a strained, doleful voice she began to sing “Martha.”
Operator, number please, it’s been so many years / Will she remember my old voice while I fight the tears.

Although rather bleak, the ballad is not terribly different from many of her more somber torch songs. But there was an underlying grittiness to her tone that had less to do with performing than with simple grief.

I feel so much older row, you’re much older too / How’s your husband, how’s the kids, you know I got married too / Lucky that you found someone to make you feel secure / We were all so young and foolish, now we are mature.

Creeping into the second chorus, her voice faltered, and the camera caught a tiny sparkle in her eye, a glimmering pinpoint that grew steadily into a tear.

I was always so impulsive, guess that I still am . . . / I guess that our being together was never meant to be.

As the plaintive music subsided, Bette clutched the microphone, mascara running down her cheek. The dark eyes glazed over and her face fell into a pained expression so distant that I wondered if she remembered where she was. It was an altogether curious vignette, profoundly moving yet equally perplexing.

“That song calls up a lot of deep things for me,” Bette sadly admits as she picks at her Caesar salad.

“That night on the show, I was thinking about my mom. I lost my mother this year; she had leukemia for a long time, cancer of the liver — and of the breast, incidentally, when I was a kid. She suffered most of her life. “She just thought I was it,” Midler says, brightening for an instant.”

Source: Rolling Stone: December 13, 1979:
“The Rose: Bette Midler Conquers Hollywood,
Bette Midler Outgrows Her Hollywood Dreams in ‘The Rose'” Timothy White)

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