One of the most beautiful songs that have touched my heart, “From a Distance” is a song that reminds us of God and his power. Let us go back and know more about the song.
Released in 1987, “From a Distance” was written by American singer-songwriter Julie Gold. Gold was working as a secretary at the time for HBO and writing songs in her free time. Gold’s friend, Christine Lavin, introduced the song to Nanci Griffith. Griffith first recorded “From a Distance” for her 1987 album, Lone Star State of Mind. It quickly became a favorite of Griffith’s fans around the world.
Julie Gold has stated that she believes in an immanent and beneficent God and also thinks that people have a right to interpret the song any way they want, as with all art. In addition, she has stated that the song is about the difference between how things appear to be and how they really are.
Original Version: Nancy Griffith’s
She recorded the song first in her 1987 album Lone Star State of Mind, Nanci Griffith told the story that in 1986, Julie Gold had sent her the song. Gold then asked Griffith what was wrong with it, as Gold had sent it to many artists and record companies. However, no one wanted to record it. Griffith had answered that she loved it so much the moment she heard it. Moreover, she really wanted to hear it be performed personally by Gold herself.
Griffith then was the first to record “From a Distance” in her Lone Star State of Mind album. Although the Griffith version became very popular, the song failed to chart until Bette Midler covered it.
Furthermore, Griffith performed it live many times from that day on. and a version of her live performance done on August 19 and 20, 1988 at the Anderson Fair, a Houston, Texas club.
Peaking at number 9 in April, the song became a sleeper hit in Ireland, spending 17 non-consecutive weeks in the Irish Top 30 during 1988.
Other Notable Versions
The song also became subject of many interpretations with the most famous being the Bette Midler version.
Most Famous Version: Bette Midler’s
The song became an international commercial success after it was recorded in 1990 by Bette Midler for the album Some People’s Lives. “From a Distance” went to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart. Moreover, it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song went on to win a Grammy for Song of the Year in 1991. The song also won a “3 Million Airs Award” from Broadcast Music Incorporated.
Midler re-recorded a Christmas version for her 2006 Christmas album, Cool Yule, with additional lyrics by Los Angeles native Jay Landers.
Cliff Richard’s Version
Released in October 1990, the song was simultaneously recorded by Cliff Richard. It was included in his album of the same title, From a Distance: The Event. It reached number 11 and number 16 in the UK Singles Charts and in Ireland, respectively.
In 1999, on his “40th Anniversary Tour” as a recording artist, Richard opened his concert in Royal Albert Hall with the song.
Judy Collins sang it live in 1989, being first recorded in her live album Sanity and Grace, and in 1990 in her studio album Fires of Eden. The Byrds recorded the song as one of 4 newly recorded studio tracks for their box set The Byrds released in 1990.
Well, every version of this song just gives us what the real meaning of the song is. Whatever version you are listening to or whoever sings this song, we are still thankful that Julie Gold gave us this wonderful and godly music.