“From a Distance” by Bette Midler

This might well be the single worst piece of Contemporary Christian Music ever written, and that’s not a statement anyone would make lightly. This is one of the most depressing songs ever written, essentially positing an uncaring, unfeeling God who is so distant from humanity that he cannot see their suffering. For all intents and purposes, this is just as bad as no God, but with the additional implied insult that human beings are not even worth caring about.

If this were the intention, I could see the song working…indeed, there is a Tori Amos song, the eerie, haunting “Flavor”, that posits almost exactly the same premise, but is smart enough to realize how disturbing that sentiment is. But everything about this song’s presentation and marketing suggests that it was meant to be inspirational and uplifting, and that apparently the songwriter responsible for it, Julie Gold, was just too stupid to realize the implications of what she had written.

Given all the frankly superb work that Bette Midler has released over the years, it seems a real injustice that the two songs most personally associated with her in the general public’s mind are “Wind Beneath My Wings” and this abomination. It’s not like she wrote this atrocity…she wasn’t even the first talented artist to record it (Judy Collins had already done so), and Cliff Richards would have a hit version in England that very same year. I realize someone has to take the blame for this piece of garbage, but I don’t really see why that person has to be Bette Midler just because her version had the bad luck to make it into a hit.

Verdict: This might be the worst Easy Listening/Soft Rock song of any kind that I’ve ever reviewed, and keep in mind how much of that genre I’ve covered.

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