"Did you ever know that you're my hero?"
"From a distance, there is harmony!"
"Some say love, it is a river."
Ask any casual Bette Midler fan (or anyone born beyond 1990) about the diva's discography, and they'll likely name that trio of tear-jerking hits: "Wind Beneath My Wings," "From a Distance" and "The Rose."
For Bette diehards, though — this writer included — the Divine Miss M's catalog brims with provocative performances that play up an overlooked aspect of her artistry: She's a magnetic, and underrated, vocalist.
"Hello in There" (from 1972's "The Divine Miss M," recently reissued in a deluxe anniversary edition): Grab a tissue. Or four. (For my money, this cover of the
"Drinking Again" (from 1973's "Bette Midler"): Grab a flask and push play. She'll part your hair on this one.
"Strangers in the Night" (from 1976's "Songs for the New Depression"): Frank Sinatra's classic goes disco! Proceed with caution.
"I Never Talk to Strangers" (from 1977's "Broken Blossom"): Tom Waits tries to pick up Bette Midler in a smoky jazz club? Believe it.
"Favorite Waste of Time" (from 1983's "No Frills"): The big hit that wasn't.
"Night and Day" (from 1990's "Some People's Lives"): The production dates it, but the aching sentiment still resonates. Ballads have always been her forte.
"Stuff Like That There" (from 1991's "For the Boys" soundtrack): Paging the Andrews Sister by way of Eartha Kitt.
"I'm a Woman" (from 2005's "Bette Midler Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook"): W-O-M-A-N — she'll say it again!
"Waterfalls" (from 2014's "It's the Girls!"): Yes, that 'Waterfalls.' Midler turns TLC's 1995 hit into a piano-driven elegy.
"Everybody Knows" (not on an album but a highlight of last year's Divine Intervention tour): The late, great Leonard Cohen co-wrote this one, and Midler infuses her interpretation with sage wisdom and sophistication. Could a whole album of torchy songs like this be in Bette's future? (Fingers crossed.)