To accompany My Bette Midler Story, I thought it would be nice to put together a playlist of my favorite Bette Midler songs. Many of you, I’m sure, know her biggest hits like The Wind Beneath My Wings, The Rose, and From a Distance. But this list is of her original classics—songs that feel like they should be listened to in a smoky dance hall bar or gay bath, which is where they originated!
1. Do You Want to Dance?
One of her first hits, it is classic Bette, moody and dramatic and…classic.
Oh, so wonderful. Dreamy. Originally written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell, this song was also a hit for The Carpenters. But this version is the best.
This is my all-time favorite song of Bette’s. I’ve never heard it live, but I’d love to (hint, hint!). It’s a Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael song.
Bette made this song a hit in 1973—long before the movie Shrek used it, or before it was on The Muppet Show.
5. Hello in There
John Prine. John Prine, ah… One of those great story songs.
6. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Originally made popular by the Andrews Sisters during World War II, Bette brought it back to life for a whole new generation.
7. Surabaya Johnny
Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill cowrote this. I finally looked up what Surabaya means, and it’s a city in Indonesia!
8. I Shall Be Released
Go, Bob Dylan! While Bob Dylan wrote and sang this song, Bette Midler actually makes you feel released when she sings it.
9. Uptown/Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad
Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, this song feels like the perfect merging of the music I grew up with—the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s all mixed into one.
10. Higher and Higher
A Motown original, Bette gives it a 1970s spin and lifts it higher and higher!