Country Throwback: Dolly Parton and Bette Midler Sing ‘Moses’ in 2001

by Suzanne Halliburton

Dolly Parton and Bette Midler, two talented women with incredible voices, are friends in real life. And two decades ago, art imitated life when the two played BFFs on a Halloween-themed TV show.

Bette Midler was the star of a CBS sitcom. Appropriately, it was named “Bette.” You probably figured out the show was loosely based on Bette Midler’s real, celebrity life. In the show, which ran for 16 episodes from 2000-01, Midler played a star named Bette with a husband, a daughter and a host of famous friends.

Enter Dolly Parton. The Dolly episode was about how the two of them were doing a Halloween special. They sang two songs together, including “Moses.”

Check out the song. We’ll give you some back story on the other side.

Dolly Parton, Bette Midler Sang An Interesting Song About Friendship

“Moses,” the cover Bette Midler and Dolly Parton performed, was a song written by Patty Griffin, the award-winning Americana singer/songwriter and former girlfriend of rocker Robert Plant. Griffin included the song on her debut studio album back in 1997.

And Bette Midler and Dolly Parton, two friends in real life, sang a song about friendship. Check that, make it a one-sided friendship. The narrator in the song says her best friend is a gay man named Moses. But he pays her no mind. It’s all mentioned in the song.

“Everywhere is somewhere. And nowhere is near. Everybody got somebody with their wine and their beer. So I’m just this tragic figure in the corner over here. Go home to an empty apartment and call a best friend who is a queer.”

Although the sitcom was short-lived, a ton of Midler’s celebrity friends made appearances during the show’s run. Guest stars included Oprah, Olivia Newton-John and the late Koby Bryant.

But Wait, There Was More Than One Song

Dolly Parton and Bette Midler had another fun-loving duet in the same episode. If you bring these two charming souls together, let them sing.

In another scene, the two performed “Islands In The Stream.” While “Moses” might not be familiar to a lot of folks, music fans know “Islands In The Stream.”

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers made the song famous. That was back in the mid-1980s when the duet was one of the biggest cross-over hits. The Bee Gees wrote it, thinking it would be perfect for Marvin Gaye as an R&B song. Instead, Parton and Rogers put a country twist on it. The song was released in August 1983, and it peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

So, how do you redo the classic song and make it truly unique for Dolly Parton and Bette Midler? Have Midler sing her part while wearing a mermaid costume. Midler twisted her tail up and down and to the side. At one point, she accidentally flipped on her back and knocked down the fake tree. In turn, that knocked out the lights on the set. Ooops.

Lesson learned. A performance with Dolly Parton and Bette Midler always is electrifying.

For more Outsider coverage on Dolly Parton, click here. And enjoy.