Flashback: Bette Midler Takes ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ to Number One
Donald Trump was in Europe last week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day when he decided it was the perfect time to lob an attack at Bette Midler. “Washed up psycho @BetteMidler was forced to apologize for a statement she attributed to me that turned out to be totally fabricated by her in order to make ‘your great president’ look really bad,” he wrote despite being a sitting U.S. president. “She got caught, just like the Fake News Media gets caught. A sick scammer!”
Midler responded with a tweet that evoked her 1993 film Hocus Pocus where she’s standing over Trump with Kathy Griffin and Stormy Daniels by her side. “The witches are back,” she wrote. “And there’s hell to pay!”
Their surreal Twitter war drew attention away from the fact that this week is the 30th anniversary of Midler’s classic “Wind Beneath My Wings” hitting Number One. The song was the biggest hit of her carer and won Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 1990 Grammy Awards. More importantly, she sang it to Krusty the Clown on The Simpsons in the classic 1993 episode “Krusty Gets Cancelled.”
“Wind Beneath My Wings” was written in 1982 by the songwriting duo of Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley. It was first released by Roger Whittaker on his 1982 LP Wind Beneath My Wings and then everyone from Lou Rawls to Gladys Knight and the Pips tackled it. But the song found its biggest audience in 1989 when it appeared in the movies Beaches, a tearjerker starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. Midler and Hershey play childhood best friends that have a turbulent relationship in their adult years, especially when Midler becomes a successful pop star. They reconnect when Hershey — now a single mother — finds out that she’s dying of a heart disease. She leaves her daughter in the custody of Midler, who sings “Wind Beneath My Wings” after the funeral.
The song wasn’t written for this movie, and when you read the lyrics, they come off as a little bizarre when you consider they’re being delivered to a dear friend after a funeral. The first lines are “It must have been cold there in my shadow/To never have sunlight on your face” and things only get worse from there. The narrator does declare that her friend is her hero, but the central analogy is that she herself is an eagle and the friend is merely the “wind beneath” her wings forced to live forever in her cold shadow.
Imagine being in the afterlife and looking down on Earth and seeing that your best friend is singing about how she’s a soaring eagle and you were merely the wind that allowed her to fly. You’d be justified in being like, “Excuse me? My body is still warm and you’re singing a song about saying sole purpose on Earth was to allow you to shine? This whole song is about you. I am literally invisible in your crazy metaphor.”
None of this is Midler’s fault and she sings the hell out of the song. Trump may consider her a “washed up psycho” but she’s still making movies and playing enormous concerts. Maybe the psycho is the person who feels the leader of the free world should spend his time attacking her on Twitter.