Wind Beneath My Wings

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"Wind Beneath My Wings" (sometimes titled "The Wind Beneath My Wings" and "Hero") is a song written in 1982 by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley.[1]

The song was first recorded[2] by Kamahl in 1982 for a country and western album he was recording. Kamahl talked about being the first to record the song in an appearance on Australian TV show Spicks and Specks but stated it was not commercially released because it was felt he did not suit the country and western style. Instead, Roger Whittaker recorded the song, as well as Sheena Easton and Lee Greenwood. The song appeared shortly thereafter in charted versions by Colleen Hewett (1982), Lou Rawls (1983), Gladys Knight & the Pips (1983), and Gary Morris (1983).

The highest-charting version of the song to date was recorded in 1988 by singer and actress Bette Midler for the soundtrack to the film Beaches. This version was released as a single in early 1989, spent one week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in June 1989, and won Grammy Awards for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year in February 1990. On October 24, 1991, Midler's single was also certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipment of one million copies in the United States. In 2004 Midler's version finished at No. 44 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. Perry Como recorded the song for his final studio album Today, released by RCA Records in 1987. Como wanted "Wind Beneath My Wings" released as a single, but RCA refused; Como was reportedly so angry, he vowed to never record for RCA Records ever again.

In a 2002 UK poll, "Wind Beneath My Wings" was found to be the most-played song at British funerals.[3]

Background[edit]

Silbar and Henley recorded a demo of the song, which they gave to musician Bob Montgomery. Montgomery then recorded his own demo version of the song, changing it from the mid-tempo version he was given to a ballad. Silbar and Henley then offered the song to many artists, which eventually resulted in Roger Whittaker becoming the first to release the song commercially. It appears on his 1982 studio album, also titled The Wind Beneath My Wings.

The song was shortly thereafter recorded by Australian artist Colleen Hewett and released by Avenue Records in 1982. Hewitt's recording became the first version of the song to be issued as a single and to appear on a national chart, peaking at No. 52 on Australia's Kent Music Report chart.

The first year "Wind Beneath My Wings" appeared on music industry trade publication charts in the United States was 1983. Singer Lou Rawls was the first to score a major hit with the song, as his version peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, No. 60 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart, and No. 65 on the main Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.[4]

Gladys Knight & the Pips also released a recording of the song in 1983 under the title "Hero". Their version peaked at No. 64 on Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart[4] while also reaching No. 23 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.

Singer Gary Morris released a country version of the song in 1983. Morris's version of the song peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart and later won both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association awards for Song of the Year.

Lou Rawls version[edit]

"The Wind Beneath My Wings"
Single by Lou Rawls
from the album "When the Night Comes'
B-side"Midnight Sunshine"
ReleasedMarch 1983
GenreSoul
Length3:53
LabelEpic 34-03758
Songwriter(s)L. Henley, J. Silbar
Producer(s)Ron Haffkine
Lou Rawls singles chronology
"Let Me Show You How"
(1982)
"The Wind Beneath My Wings"
(1983)
"Upside Down"
(1983)

Lou Rawls was the first to land the song on the chart in the US.[5] The up-tempo version by Rawls was released in March 1983 on Epic 34-03758. It was backed with "Midnight Sunshine".[6][7] It appeared on his album, When the Night Comes.[8] It spent six weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and on April 16, 1983, it peaked at no. 65.[9] It also got to no. 60 on the R&B chart.[10] Rawls once performed a twelve-minute live version of the song at a concert in Elgin, Illinois.[11]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1984) Peak
position
Billboard Adult Contemporary 10
Billboard Hot Black Singles 60
Billboard, Hot 100 65

Gary Morris version[edit]

"The Wind Beneath My Wings"
Single by Gary Morris
from the album Why Lady Why
B-side"The Way I Love You Tonight"
ReleasedAugust 6, 1983
Length4:40
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar
Producer(s)Jimmy Bowen
Gary Morris singles chronology
"The Love She Found in Me"
(1983)
"The Wind Beneath My Wings"
(1983)
"Why Lady Why"
(1983)

"Wind Beneath My Wings" was recorded by American country music artist Gary Morris and reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It was named Song of the Year by both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1984) Peak
position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[12] 4
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 10

Bette Midler version[edit]

"Wind Beneath My Wings"
Bette Midler-Wind Beneath My Wings.jpg
Single by Bette Midler
from the album Beaches: Original Soundtrack Recording
B-side"Oh Industry"
ReleasedFebruary 1989
Recorded1988
GenrePop
Length4:18 (edit)
4:54 (album and 7" version)
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar
Producer(s)Arif Mardin
Bette Midler singles chronology
"Under the Boardwalk"
(1989)
"Wind Beneath My Wings"
(1989)
"From a Distance"
(1990)
Music video
"Wind Beneath My Wings" on YouTube

"Wind Beneath My Wings" was performed by Bette Midler for the soundtrack of the film Beaches and became a US number-one single. It was named Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 1990. The song became a worldwide hit; it charted at No. 5 in the UK, No. 2 in Iceland, No. 4 in New Zealand, and No. 1 in Australia. Midler performed the song, with the fictional character Krusty the Clown, on season 4 episode 22 of The Simpsons in 1993. In the days following the September 11 attacks in 2001, she performed the song live at the Prayer for America memorial service held at Yankee Stadium.[13] In 2014, Midler performed the song following the annual in memoriam montage at the 86th Academy Awards in 2014.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

AllMusic editor Heather Phares said that Midler turned this "inspirational love song" into "an epic pop song". She also noted Midler's "demonstrative interpretation".[15] Stephen Holden from The New York Times noted in his review of the Beaches soundtrack, that "one is reminded of just how powerful a pop singer Ms. Midler can be when handed the right song and an arrangement that doesn't constrict her brash, larger-than-life personality." He added that "the most effective numbers are dramatic ballads" like "Wind Beneath My Wings".[16] People Magazine wrote that the song "articulates the movie's theme of enduring friendship, and Midler's heartfelt delivery conveys the message a lot more succinctly and satisfyingly than the film."[17] The Stage noted that the song, "a cabaret favourite for several years now", has been "given a new lease of life because it has been recorded by Bette Midler."[18] John Louie from The Stanford Daily called it a "sweet, melodious ballad".[19]

Music video[edit]

Bette Midler in the black-and-white music video.

The music video for "Wind Beneath My Wings" was made in black-and-white. It opens with a light-haired girl meeting a dark-haired girl under the dock on a beach. They befriend each other and walk along the beach together. Occasionally throughout the video, Midler performs on a stage, dressed in a black dress and long curly hair. Her arms are crossed. The girls dances on the beach until the dark-haired finds a long stick, which she writes in the sand with. The light-haired girl continues to dance alone. Toward the end, the dark-haired falls onto the sand and starts digging in it. She finds a doll buried in the sand and pushes it to her chest. As the video ends, the light-haired girl goes beyond the horizon.[20]

Track listing[edit]

7": US (Atlantic 7-88972) 7": UK (Atlantic A8972) 7": Japan (Atlantic PRS-2048) 3": Japan (Atlantic 09P3-6159)

  1. "Wind Beneath My Wings"
  2. "Oh Industry"

12": UK (Atlantic A8972T) 3": UK (Atlantic A8972CD)

  1. "Wind Beneath My Wings"
  2. "Oh Industry"
  3. "I Think It's Going to Rain Today"

CDM: US (Atlantic PR2615-2) promo

  1. "Wind Beneath My Wings" (edit)
  2. "Wind Beneath My Wings" (album version)

CDM: Germany (Atlantic 756785481-2)

  1. "Wind Beneath My Wings"
  2. "From a Distance"
  3. "In My Life"
  4. "To Deserve You"

Note: Released in 1996

Charts[edit]

Other versions[edit]

In the 1990s, two English actor/singers released their versions as singles. Bill Tarmey's version in 1993, from his debut album A Gift of Love, reached No. 40 on the UK Singles Chart,[29] while Steven Houghton's version from his self-titled debut album, reached No. 3 in 1997.[30]

Idina Menzel sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" as a duet with Kristen Bell at her successful audition for the 2013 film Frozen.[31] She sang it again for the 2017 film Beaches, a remake of the same film in which Bette Midler's version of the song debuted.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kawashima, Dale. "Songwriter Jeff Silbar: How He Co-Wrote The Classic Hit, 'Wind Beneath My Wings'". SongwriterUniverse. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
  2. ^ "Spicks and Specks" Episode #6.32 (TV Episode 2010) - IMDb, retrieved June 2, 2019
  3. ^ "Midler and Dion top funeral chart". BBC News. August 5, 2002. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Billboard, April 13, 1996, p. 106
  5. ^ Who Did It First?: Great Pop Cover Songs and Their Original Artists, By Bob Leszczak - Page 229
  6. ^ Pop Archives - LOU RAWLS, (The) Wind Beneath My Wings
  7. ^ 45Cat - Record Details, Artist: Lou Rawls, Catalogue: 34-03758
  8. ^ AllMusic - Lou Rawls, '"When the Night Comes AllMusic Review by Andrew Hamilton
  9. ^ Billboard.com - Lou Rawls | Chart History, Wind Beneath My Wings
  10. ^ Billboard, April 13, 1996 - Page 106 CHART BEAT, 'I Will Survive' Becomes Savage by Fred Bronson
  11. ^ CMJ New Music Monthly, February 2001 - Page 54
  12. ^ "Gary Morris Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  13. ^ "'Prayer for America' embraces many faiths". cnn.com. September 23, 2001. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  14. ^ Harrison, Lily (March 2, 2014). "Bette Midler Sings During Oscars In Memoriam Tribute Honoring James Gandolfini, Philip Seymour Hoffman and More". E! Entertainment Television. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  15. ^ "Bette Midler - Wind Beneath My Wings". AllMusic. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Pop Life". The New York Times. December 21, 1988. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  17. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Beaches". People. May 1, 1989. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  18. ^ "Sing a song in season". The Stage. August 3, 1989. page 10. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  19. ^ Louie, John (January 18, 1990). "Temptation to pick a winner overwhelms critics". The Stanford Daily. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  20. ^ "Bette Midler - Wind Beneath My Wings (Official Music Video)". YouTube. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  21. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. July 29, 1989. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  22. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 10 (25. ágúst 1989)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved July 24, 2018. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  23. ^ "Bette Midler Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  24. ^ "Bette Midler Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  25. ^ "Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler - Music Charts". acharts.co.
  26. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 51, No. 8, December 23, 1989". RPM. December 23, 1999. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  27. ^ "1989 The Year in Music: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. 101 (51): Y-22. December 23, 1989.
  28. ^ "Longbored Surfer - 1989". longboredsurfer.com.
  29. ^ "BILL TARMEY | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com.
  30. ^ "STEVEN HOUGHTON | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com.
  31. ^ "Tangled – Secret Phone Recording Helped Idina Menzel Land New Disney Role". ContactMusic.com. November 1, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  32. ^ Hale, Mike (January 20, 2017). "Review: They've, Sob, Remade 'Beaches'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2019.

External links[edit]