Sure, Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997” sold a record-breaking 7.3 million copies. But that didn’t prevent Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) from pausing his usual activities (such as, debating his Democratic rivals in Congress) to pen his own sensitive tribute song to the late Princess Diana, “Many Different Roads.” It may come as a surprise that a man known more for filibustering than chartbusting is dabbling in music. But “Roads” is not Hatch’s first foray into songwriting. He has written the lyrics for two albums with composer Janice Kapp Perry. The first, “My God Is Love,” is filled with Christian hymns; th971212/hymnforher.gife second, “Freedom’s Light,” is pure patriotism.
The soft-pop “Many Different Roads,” which also eulogizes Mother Teresa, was released as a single on October 24. “Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Princess Diana,” Hatch told EW Online, “I knew Mother Teresa quite well. I’ve been very concerned with children, as were they, although they handled it through very different roads.”
Comparisons to Elton John’s song are difficult to avoid. The cover of Hatch’s single shows one red rose, which calls to mind John’s first line “Goodbye England’s rose,” and Hatch’s refrain refers to Diana’s touch as “a candle in the night.” But that’s just nitpicking, says the Senator: “You can’t compare them. Elton John is a world-renowned recorder. I’ve got a copy of his song, and it’s great. But mine is mournful and uplifting, and it’s written about two lovely women. It’s a completely different song from what he did, and I think it holds up on its own.” He adds, “I’m not meaning to be arrogant.”
The Senator has his fans. Gladys Knight is recording the single for her new album, according to John Perry, the manager of Hatch’s record company, Prime Recordings. Still, the song hasn’t won over everyone. “It’s set to an ultra-lite-FM arrangement so banal even Celine Dion would reject it,” says Entertainment Weekly music critic David Browne. “If Hatch never makes it to the White House, his lyrics guarantee him a future at Hallmark.” But, as they say, 12,000 Hatch fans can’t be wrong: Hatch has sold that many albums without national distribution, all through the Prime order line, 1-800-377-6788.
In the future, Senator Hatch is planning a choral album, and even a soft-rock collection. He has sent the lyrics for more than 250 songs to various composers. “I have a lot of nice thoughts that come to me all the time,” Hatch says. “People respect me, but they see I’m awfully stern sometimes. With this music, people can see I’m loving and kind, and they’re amazed. It lifts me out of the degradation of politics.” Hmmm… and we all thought Representative Sonny Bono moved to Washington to get away from the degradation of music.