E Street Shuffle
Bette Midler Covers Springsteen’s Pink Cadillac
POSTED ON NOVEMBER 26, 2018
Mister D: I remember so vividly when I heard that Springsteen nixed this song, I was livid. I loved Bette’s version and I thought it should be a single right off the bat. It was after The Rose and she had built up credibility that she could sing rock and the blues with the best of them. I thought finally this would shut those DJ’s up who thought she was only a ballad singer, Of course, she substituted this song with “Beast Of Burden” which, frankly, outdid The Rolling Stone’s version and her onstage version was epic, She brought rock, cabaret, and theater and packed it into one hell of a cover version. But, the label made a mistake, in my opinion, by not releasing this first. I loved All I Need To Know and I thought it should have been the second single. I think the album No Frills would have sold more and not been such a disappointment. Now, I’m all Pissed Again!
Bruce is known for being exceptionally generous with his music, allowing other artists to cover and re-interpret his music with such frequency that it’s almost impossible to keep track of the various covers that are out there.
So it’s remarkable when we hear of a circumstance in which Bruce actually refused an artist permission to cover one of his songs. But that’s exactly what happened more than 35 years ago with Bette Midler and “Pink Cadillac.”
No stranger to covering Bruce, Midler loved the song and recorded it for her 1983 No Frills album. But after it was already recorded and ready for release, Bruce legally stopped her from doing so.
While the story is always told from Midler’s perspective (Bruce has never made a public comment about it), Bruce allegedly protested that the song was inappropriate for a female singer.
Now, it’s true that “Pink Cadillac” is a song-length sexual metaphor, but certainly men don’t have a monopoly on fascination with it. Chalk it up to a less enlightened time and a less enlightened Bruce, I guess.
To this day Bette’s studio cover has never been released (she replaced the album track with “Beast of Burden“), but you can still hear–and see–her cover arrangement: by the time she recorded it in the studio, Midler had already performed “Pink Cadillac” on her previous tour. In 1984, she released a home video of one of those shows, and the opening number was none other than… “Pink Cadillac.”
Mister D: And the real kicker is that shortly after Bruce Springsteen nixed Bette’s version, suddenly a year or two later he let Natalie Cole cover it and she had a big hit with it. I guess he evolved. With time, I guess all wounds heal. I’m sure those of you who have followed this site have seen photos of Bette sitting next to Springsteen at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ceremonies. They even performed together with Darlene Love, Alice Cooper, and other artists who were inducted