BootLeg Betty

Audio: The Bette Midler & Bob Dylan 27 Minute Recording Session

Dangerous Minds
From The Bo
b Dylan New York Sessions 1974-1975
By Richard Metzger
March 27, 2019

Photo: Bette Midler and Bob Dylan in an October 1975 recording session

Bob Dylan and Bette Midler recorded together in October 1975 duetting on a cover of “Buckets of Rain” for her Songs for the New Depression album. Dylan apparently also wanted Midler to be a part of his Rolling Thunder Revue. Several years ago, a 27-minute long fly-on-the-wall recording from this session started making the rounds on bootleg sites as part of Bob Dylan New York Sessions 1974-1975.

The original bootlegger says:

“It opens with some upgrades of the original Blood On The Tracks sessions from September 1974, and progresses chronologically through some early Desire sessions, winding up to the main event: almost half an hour of never-heard October 1975 session outtakes of the recording of Bette Midler’s cover of “Buckets Of Rain” with Dylan, which would show up on her Songs For The New Depression album the following January.”

from the original bootlegger

At one point Midler demures saying, “I can’t sing ‘I ain’t no monkey,’” but Dylan gently coaxed her into it. Moogy Klingman backs them on piano and at one point Dylan sings a full-throated version of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles “You Really Got A Hold On Me” with Midler. The Divine Miss M also dishes on Paul Simon, who she says refuses to speak to her.

“This’ll show him!”

Bette Midler, The Bob dylan bootleg tapes

Midler cattily refers to Patti Smith as well, saying “At least I can sing in tune!” What exactly she is referring to here is not spelled out, but in an interview with Barry Miles, Smith tells the story of Midler throwing a beer in her face at a Dylan-related private event in New York around this time. Maybe she saw Patti as competition for Dylan’s affections? (Midler later revealed that she got to “first base” with Dylan in his Cadillac, so perhaps that’s what the remark and the beer incident was all about?)

Bette Midler & Bob Dylan – October 1975
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3 thoughts on “Audio: The Bette Midler & Bob Dylan 27 Minute Recording Session

  1. This was so cool, Don! I listened to all of it. I never really cared for the song much, but now I have some context. I would love, love, love to hear Bette’s memories of these early albums – the song choices, musicians, etc.

    1. Hey Diane: I agree with you. I really didn’t care for this song but this intimate fly on the wall recording was so interesting. I’d like to hear the version of the album she and Moogy Klingman made which had more originals by Bette and Moogy and why Aaron and Arif trashed most of it and the result was what we finally ended up with. I think that left a bad taste in Bette’s mouth about writing originals. It kind of played with her confidence. And I really would like to heat MIss M Goes Motown. I remember I was so looking forward to that one. And the fact that it could just be lying in a vault somewhere with a bunch of other stuff we don’t have pisses me off!

  2. I was never a huge fan of Bette’s first two albums… I heard them years after they were released (after I was introduced to her in The Rose) but this third one was truly incredible in my grade school perception and the album cover was flawless! One critic said “This album goes for an Academy Award!” I just loved it!

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