Monday, May 2, 2022

"Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3820
Date:  03/04/1989
Debut:  97
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  29
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Midler started the decade with a bang and ended it with an even bigger one. In 1980, Midler scored her second Pop Top 10 hit with "The Rose" (#3). It was a song from the movie of the same name that starred Midler. She would receive an Oscar nod for Best Actress and win a Grammy for her performance of the song. Her career was at a new high, but then things went a little awry. Her next film was a major flop and her 1983 album No Frills was a modest seller. She even tried her hand at stand-up comedy with the '85 album Mud Will Be Flung Tonight. Nothing was really gelling, but then she got a multi-film deal with Disney and began starring in a streak of hits that started with '86's Down and Out in Beverly Hills. By '88 her star had reclaimed its spot in the sky, yet she hadn't recorded any new music since No Frills. She would get an opportunity to do that when she took on her next role in the comedy-drama Beaches. Cast alongside Barbara Hershey, the film has Midler as an aspiring entertainer and that gave her the chance to record songs for the film. The soundtrack to Beaches would be released prior to the movie's opening along with a first single "Under the Boardwalk," Midler's take on the 1964 #4 hit by The Drifters, which was used to promote the film. The single didn't get anywhere, but then the movie hit theater's soon after and began to do well. This next single was then released and as the film grew into a hit, the song gained attention. It debuted low on the Pop chart, but steadily climbed until it reached the top spot becoming Midler's first #1. It would also reach #2 AC. The hit helped the soundtrack get to #2 and eventually it would become Midler's best selling album going triple-platinum. A third single from the LP, "I Know You By Heart," a duet with David Pack, would not chart. While Midler would not receive an Oscar nod for her performance in the film, "Wind Beneath My Wings" would net her a third Grammy when it won for Record of the Year (it also won Song of the Year for its writers Larry Henley and Jeff Sibar. Midler also got a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. It was a grand way for Midler to end the decade.

ReduxReview:  Okay, yes, this song has more sap in it than a gallon of Log Cabin. It's been both adored and derided (at the record store I worked at we called it "The Wind Between My Cheeks"). Previous versions may have been admirable, but were unable to truly capture the spirit of the song. Leave it to Midler to wring every ounce of emotion out of the tune. She has always been a world-class interpreter of songs and this one became one of her best. The arrangement, which sounds a tad karaoke-ish now, was just right for the time period as well. Add to that its use in Beaches and a hit was born. The song was all over the place. I even had to sing it at a wedding. It was a well-deserved and long overdue hit for Midler. These days, it's not a song that I need to hear or would voluntarily call up, but if it happens to come on it does bring on bursts of nostalgia and maybe even a tear or two. Other artists will cover this song, but no one will ever top this version by Midler.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This was a remake of a song first recorded and released in '82 by British singer/songwriter Roger Whittaker. It served as the title track to a 1982 album, but it was not released as a single. Sheena Easton would also record it in '82 for an album and country singer Lee Greenwood would put it on one of his in '83. Neither artist released it as a single. The tune's first chart appearance anywhere appears to have been in Australia by singer Colleen Hewett. Her '83 version got to #52. In the US, the first artist to reach the Pop chart with the song was Lou Rawls in 1983. His take went to #65 Pop/#60 R&B/#10 AC.  The same year, Gladys Knight & the Pips would chart with the song (#64 R&B/#23 AC, titled just "Hero") and singer Gary Morris would get to #4 on the Country chart. Other artists would cover the song, but it took Bette Midler to finally make it a #1 hit. It has been reported that Australian singer Kamahl was the first artist to actually record the song, but then it didn't fit the country and western theme of the album he was working on, so he did not release it. Whittaker is then credited as the first artist to record and release the tune.  2) After the success of this song, Midler chose to keep her music career going and in 1990 release the album Some People's Lives. It's first single, "From a Distance," became another platinum single reaching #2. Written by Julie Gold and originally recorded by Nanci Griffith, Midler's version came out during the Gulf War and it resonated with many folks. The song and Midler would be nominated for Grammys in the same categories as "Wind Beneath My Wings" and would end up winning one for Song of the Year. Some People's Lives would get to #6 and go double-platinum. Four of her next five albums would go platinum or gold including another soundtrack, 1991's For the Boys (#22 Pop). She also earned a further four Grammy nominations.


No comments:

Post a Comment