First, Bette Midler, 58. Favorite album: 1976's flop Songs For the New Depression. Favorite film: 1991's flop For the Boys. Hm. See a pattern? Anyway, I haven't heard any of her recent efforts like 1998's Bathhouse Betty, the cover of which I love, or her new Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook simply because her propensity for big, overblown weepy ballads has killed my interest. But I still think I'll get Betty one of these days...
Next, the great Richard Pryor, 63 today. His 1974 album That Nigger's Crazy is one of the funniest things I've ever heard in my life. His movie career has been hit and miss, but his concert films are great and his teamup with Gene Wilder in 1976's Silver Streak was excellent. I liked The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, too.
Number three is someone only die-hard Twin Peaks enthusiasts will recognize, singer and maker of "white angel noise" Julee Cruise, 47. Thanks to her involvement with David Lynch, she had a small hit back in '93 with "Falling" from the Peaks TV series. That song appeared on the subsequent album Floating Into the Night, on which appears the haunting "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart", for which my love is so strong that I felt it necessary to observe her birthday. I dig that song, daddy-o. I don't have a clue, really, about what she's done since, although I know she did a couple of follow-up albums, one of which came out last year.
Two more notables: Woody Allen, 68. Favorite films: Zelig, Bullets Over Broadway, and Annie Hall. Also, Blue Oyster Cult "stun guitarist" Eric Bloom, 59. I'd lay even money that he was the one who played cowbell on "Don't Fear the Reaper". The BOC was one of my very favorite rock bands when I was a kid, you know.