Bob Dylan and Bette Midler recorded together in October 1975 duetting on a cover of “Buckets of Rain” for her Songs for the New Depression album. Dylan apparently also wanted Midler to be a part of his Rolling Thunder Revue. Six years ago, a 27-minute long fly on the wall recording from this session started making the rounds on bootleg sites as part of Bob Dylan New York Sessions 1974-1975.
The original bootlegger says:
“It opens with some upgrades of the original Blood On The Tracks sessions from September 1974, and progresses chronologically through some early Desire sessions, winding up to the main event: almost half an hour of never-heard October 1975 session outtakes of the recording of Bette Midler’s cover of “Buckets Of Rain” with Dylan, which would show up on her Songs For The New Depression album the following January.”
At one point Midler demures saying, “I can’t sing ‘I ain’t no monkey,’” but Dylan gently coaxes her into it. Moogy Klingman backs them on piano and at one point Dylan sings a full-throated version of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles “You Really Got A Hold On Me” with and Midler. The Divine Miss M also dishes on Paul Simon, who she says refuses to speak to her.
“This’ll show him!”
Midler cattily refers to Patti Smith as well, saying “At least I can sing in tune!” What exactly she is referring to here is not spelled out, but in an interview with Barry Miles, Smith tells the story of Midler throwing a beer in her face at a Dylan-related private event in New York around this time. Maybe she saw Patti as competition for Dylan’s affections? (Midler later revealed that she got to “first base” with Dylan in his Cadillac, so perhaps that’s what the remark and the beer incident was all about?)