Friday, August 6, 2010
Top Songs of 1991: #15: "From a Distance" by Bette Midler
The #15 Billboard hit of 1991 was "From a Distance", performed by Bette Midler. The song had quite a life of it's own before Bette got a hold of it. Julie Gold, an American singer-songwriter, wrote the song:
"Gold was working as a secretary at the time for Home Box Office and writing songs in her free time. Gold's friend, Christine Lavin, introduced the song to Nanci Griffith who first recorded for her 1987 album, Lone Star State of Mind. It quickly became a favorite of Griffith's fans around the world. The Byrds recorded the song as one of 4 newly recorded studio tracks for their box set The Byrds released in 1990."
Also in 1990, Bette Midler recorded the song as part of her album "Some People's Lives". Like the #16 song of 1991 ("All the Man That I need" by Whitney Houston), this song very much fits into that Adult Contemporary genre.
My strongest association of Bette Midler is how Michael Shurtleff describes her in his book "Audition". He said she was such an innate artist, that she was like a "gland". That has stuck in my head since I read the book when I was 15. I love that description.
I mostly remember this song being strongly attached the the Gulf War. It came out around the same time and the video had lots of images of soldiers in black and white.
There is something about this song that feels like a folk-protest song from the 60s. I can almost hear Bob Dylan singing it.