What Was The Impetus For Midler Recording Istanbul (Not Constantinople) Video Included

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What Was The Impetus For Midler Recording Istanbul (Not Constantinople) Video Included
By Mister D
Sept 15, 2023

Bette Midler recorded “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” as part of her 1976 special for Home Box Office, It also appears on the album. Live At Last, recorded from the special.

According to her autobiography, “A View from a Broad”, she chose the song because she liked its “campy” and “silly” style. She also said that she wanted to pay tribute to the original singers, The Four Lads, who were one of her favorite groups when she was growing up.

Bette Midler Also Added Her Own Lyrics To The Song

She performed the song with her backup singers, The Harlettes, in a humorous and theatrical way, wearing costumes inspired by Turkish culture. She also added some of her own lyrics, such as “Even old New York was once New Amsterdam / Why they changed it I can’t say / People just liked it better that way / So take me back to Constantinople / No you can’t go back to Constantinople / Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople / Why did Constantinople get the works? / That’s nobody’s business but the Turks / And the Greeks! And the Armenians! And the Kurds! And the Jews!” The only difference I see in the lyrics is that she added the Greeks, Kurds, Armenians, and Jews

Her version of the song was well-received by critics and fans, who praised her comedic timing and vocal skills. It also helped to introduce the song to a new generation of listeners, who later discovered other cover versions by artists such as They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants

The Four Lads

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