BootLeg Betty

Audio: In 1980, Pete Townshend of The Who Wrote a song for Bette Midler. She rejected it


Bette Midler in Tommy 1970

Mister D: Just to clarify a few things, Pete Townshend of The Who, in some interviews has said he was attracted to men and he said they made him feel passive. Being of The Who, most of his fans are male. His first solo album, Empty Glass, even dealt with homosexual themes. For a long time now, he’s been married to a woman. I’m classifying him as probably bisexual. He may not classify himself as anything. But I noticed on a lot of forums for the Who or Townshend, some straight guys just aren’t buying it because he’s married. I’ll just say from experience, lots of it, that that doesn’t mean shit.

Pete Townshend of The Who Wrote a song for Bette Midler.

Originally written for Bette Midler, the song showed up on Pete’s first real solo album, ‘Empty Glass.’ in 1980. Many took the lyrics literally and thought it was Pete expressing his homosexuality or bisexuality, but considering he was writing the song for Midler. Lyrics like, ‘As he laid me back just like an empty dress’ are less about gender preferences than a kind of surrender to a complicated lover. The galloping piano riff that dominates the song keeps the tempo upbeat, but the way Townshend sings the verses have a more ethereal quality that gives the song a dream-like feel.

Townshend: “I wrote another song about homosexuality for that album called ‘And I Moved.’ Which I wrote for Bette Midler to sing. She said, “Somebody’s gotta write me a song for a real woman,” and I said something like “The way to write a song for a real woman is to write a song for a real man and you can sing it!”

And I moved
And his hands felt like ice exciting
As he laid me back just like an empty dress
And I moved

But a minute after he was weeping
His tears his only truth.
And I moved
But I moved toward him



Word has it that Bette didn’t like the song because it was too overtly sexual, but not in the way she usually liked songs about sex. I’m figuring not campy or humorous. Townshend, on the other hand, thought it was because the producer just didn’t like the song. He did submit another song, You‘re So Clever, but it was rejected, too.

Sidenote: But let’s not forget that Bette played The Mother and The Acid Queen to rave reviews in the first theatrical adaption of Pete Townshend and The Who’s rock opera, Tommy.

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