Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Songoftheday 7/26/16 - It must have been cold there in my shadow, to never have sunlight on your face...


"Wind Beneath My Wings" - Bette Midler
from the album Beaches (Original Soundtrack) (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 15

Today's song of the day comes from multi-faceted entertainer Bette Midler, who grew up in Hawaii under parents from New Jersey, before heading back east after leaving college to start a career. Besides a few on-and-off Broadway shows, Bette started singing in the notorious/legendary (depending on how you look at it) Continental Baths, a gay gathering place (to put it lightly), where she accumulated a devoted gay fanbase that carries on to this day. With the man who accompanied her at the baths, pianist Barry Manilow, she released her debut album, The Divine Miss M, in 1972. The first single, a lush remake of the Beach Boys' "Do You Want To Dance", climbed to #17 on the American pop chart, and #8 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary radio list. Another cover, this take a campy redo of the Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", went to #1 on the adult contemporary chart and #8 on the pop list. From the exposure from that album, Midler earned the Best New Artist Grammy the following year. Midler continued to have success through the 70s, albeit a bit more moderate, until her starring turn in The Rose returned her to the top ten with the title track (#3), and that song also topped the adult contemporary chart. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the movie, and it started a series of starring roles through the 80s that established her more as an actress than a singer. But in 1989, with another film of hers, Beaches, she landed the biggest hit of her career so far. Playing another singer, this time from a child to an adult, and her friendship with a woman who ends up struggling with a terminal disease, Bette drew accolades again, but what stood out was the highlight song of the soundtrack. It was a remake of a song originally recorded by easy-listening performer Roger Whittaker in 1982. "Wind Beneath My Wings", written by Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar, was a run-of-the-mill love song in the hands of Whittaker...


The first American performer to have success with the song was Lou Rawls, to took his version to #10 on the Adult Contemporary list, and pierced the pop chart at #65 in 1983...


Bette's stately reading of the song gave the piece the reverence it deserved, and duly became Bette's big moment...


"Wind Beneath My Wings" became Bette's first and so far sole #1 pop hit in June of 1989. The song surprisingly didn't do the same on the easy-listening chart, stopped at #2 on Billboard's AC radio list. Internationally, the track went to #1 in Australia, #3 in Canada, #4 in New Zealand, and #5 in the UK. It was also grab both the Record and Song of the Year Grammy Awards in 1990.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Here's Bette performing the song when she won two Grammys in 1990..


Many other artists also had success with the song. Before Rawls hit the American chart, Australian singer Colleen Hewett had a minor hit in her country with it (#52)...


1983 was a big year for the song, with not only Rawls' success, but also soul legends Gladys Knight and the Pips, who with the retitled "Hero" went to #23 AC and #64 R&B...


Country singer Gary Morris went all the way to #4 with his version of "Wind..."


Finally, it's back to Bette performing for the queen in 2009...


Up tomorrow: A "paid" singer gets naked and "sings".

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