Unless I missed it, nobody’s posted about Burt Bacharach, who died Wednesday at 94. Oddly enough, I’ve been listening to quite a few Burt Bacharach/Hal David songs recently because one of my favorites, “Anyone Who Had a Heart” was featured in the movie “Last Night in Soho.” The version there was by the British artist Cilla Black, recorded in 1964. She’s great, but as far as I’m concerned, nobody can touch Dionne Warwick’s versions of the big hits. And of course, there’s Bacharach’s extraordinary collaboration with Elvis Costello. A couple of my favorites after the break:
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Several commenters have mentioned it in threads about other things.
Yesterday I posted this cover by Faith No More
I was driving in my car to the grocery store late yesterday afternoon when NPR reported on this. They played a whole bunch of his music from the ’60s. It was like revisiting my childhood. I never realized that one man had written such a big chunk of the musical score for the first ten or 15 years of my life.
Thank you, Burt Bacharach.
I remember so many of his songs. May he RIP. It is always sad when someone dies but getting the 94? Damn. That leaves me 34 more years. I can’t even imagine.
I liked his sudden appearance in the first Austin Powers movie.
Aretha Franklin and her version of “I Say a Little Prayer” would like a word with you.
@Delk: wait…before I click…they have covers other than “Easy” and “War Pigs”?
Wish I could remember which song but a few years ago I listened to a knowledgeable musician deconstruct a Bacharach pop song to demonstrate how sophisticated and complex it was. The casual radio listener (me) had not clue one.
Dionne Warwick may have been his muse but once Aretha got hold of this Bacharach song, it was hers from that day forth. I’m certain Burt didn’t mind.
I love me some Burt Bacharach. Dionne Warwick’s versions are great, but nothing tops Jackie DeShannon singing What the World Needs Now is Love. Other Burt Bacharach songs that maybe aren’t as well known that are great: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and I’ll Never Fall in Love Again (from the musical Promises, Promises). The latter has one of my favorite rhymes in popular music: “pneumonia” and “phone ya”
@Jeffro: Did somebody say “War Pigs”?
@Jeffro: yep…they actually care a lot, lol.
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
He was a great songwriter for sure. I was reading the obit in WaPo (I think) and they said Sinatra when asked about him said he wrote in hat sizes referring to time signatures like 7 and a quarter time. One of my favorite songs of his is sung by Elvis Costello in his appearance in the second Austin Powers movie – “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” I think Warwick did record that one and her version is probably better but Costello did great with it. I don’t know if she did “Say a Little Prayer”…it would be a close run thing between her and Aretha for the definitive version if she did.
@What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?: As I noted above, the definitive version of I’ll Never Fall in Love Again is Jackie DeShannon. One of the best Burt Bacharach song performances ever.
I had the great fortune to see Burt and Dionne perform together at the Greek in the late 80’s.
It is absolutely impossible to overstate Burt Bacharach’s influence on 20th Century popular music.
A bit of an inside joke. Bacharach did the music for the 1967 James Bond parody, “Casino Royale.”
@evap: Hal David’s lyrics perfectly complimented BB’s melodies. His words are as memorable as the tunes. An inspired partnership.
@trollhattan: Bacharach used key signature and tempo to construct songs that are so good that different singers can make them wonderful in different ways. I love the Aretha Franklin version of Say a Little Prayer, but I think Dionne Warwick owns Walk On By. And I could listen to Barbra Streisand sing Alfie all day. Link
Fetterman discharged from the hospital, expected back at work on Monday, according to the WaPo.
also a stellar version from Ms. Springfield
I would love to know more about these popular composers — Bacherach, Sondheim, Hamlisch — who churned out one classic song after the next. What an amazing generation.
Dionne Warwick looks exquisite in that last video–strong, voluptuous, womanly (as opposed to girlish). Wow.
I agree. However, Isaac Hayes does a funky 12 min version of the song. From the album “Hot Buttered Soul.”
I didn’t know that! Thanks! Makes it even funnier.
About twelve years ago there was a revival of Promises, Promises starring Kristen Chenoweth and Sean Hayes that was frankly sublime.
Open thread. Has anyone posted yet on Dark Brandon ordering the shoot down of a high altitude “object” flying over US airspace?
It was near the Alaska/Canada border.
I got to watch him compose for a few minutes. Made a delivery to Burgess Meredith’s place in Malibu, when the door opened there was Burt. Nice enough guy, not super friendly but then, he was working. While I set up a computer for his wife he was playing the piano with one hand and holding the phone in the other, then talking on it. I may have taken my time getting my work done. This was about 1987.
I wore out my cd of One Amazing Night, a compilation of Bacharach songs by a great mix of singers. Wynonna singing “Anyone Who Had A Heart” just about broke mine.
Footnote: Jerry Orbach, perhaps best remembered now as Lennie Briscoe in Law and Order, won a Tony for Promises, Promises in 1969.
On a more serious note, there’s a great early 60s video of Dionne Warwick on a rooftop in Paris singing Walk On By while shining on a bunch of French suitors. It’s just the best, most Parisian thing ever and I have to watch it every now and again.
The Warwick/Bacharach/David combo was a wonderful partnership. I also remember driving around southern NY back when listening to the competing versions of “This Guy’s/Girl’s in Love with You” by Herb Alpert and by Dusty Springfield.
Reposting the very lengthy Times obituary (gift link) for Bacharach. Good pictures and song links.
On the advice of an astrologer who predicted it would jumpstart her career (it did not) she changed her name to Warwicke for a few years in the early 1970s, then back again, dropping the added final e.
astrologerAs I remember, it was a numerologist.
I can’t help but think of some of the lesser byways of Bacharach’s epic career, such as “Wives and Lovers,” a very Mad Men gem, or cubic zorconium, that makes me cringe-laugh when I hear it on Siriusly Sinatra. As one YouTube commenter said, “It’s the kind of song you don’t want to tell anyone you like.” It did win a Grammy for Jack Jones, though.
Bacharach wrote pop music for the complicated emotions and situations of grown-ups, complex compositions that hit directly – not an easy thing to do.
One of my favorite interpreters of his songs is Isaac Hayes, who took them in his own psychedelic soul direction: https://youtu.be/iqR4CZj0mJQ
@trollhattan: It’s a lot of fun to play his songs on the piano.
But only recently did I appreciate the genius of Hal David, when I heard Stevie Wonder sing “Alfie.” I never realized how profound the lyrics were before that performance.
@What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?: Yes, she most certainly did “Say a Little Prayer.”
@karen marie, @JDM:
Bacharach’s music was the sound track of my early life, when my mom regularly loaded myself and my sisters into the station wagon (unseatbelted, which was the style at the time), fired up WNEW-AM on the radio, and hauled us from Rockland County to the Paramus Mall. Dionne Warwick, Herb Alpert, Dusty Springfield, but all of them doing Bacharach. I hear that music and I’m in that station wagon again. That was the late Sixties to me.
@JustRuss: wow what an anecdote. You had me at “Burgess Meredith’s place.”
And Dionne still lives, beautiful at 82. How I hate it when the musical heroes that I grew up with drop, one by one.
@Steeplejack: Oh, yeah, Jack Jones. Son of Allan.
The lyrics to “Wives and Lovers” — aaaahhhh
@Layer8Problem: Yeah, Dusty Springfield’s voice is a real madeleine for me.
@zhena gogolia: Le mot juste.
So many artists did great covers of David-Bacharach songs. One of my favorites is José Feliciano’s version of “Always Something There to Remind Me.”
Zirconium. Screw you, autocorrect.
Could be mistaken but believe deposits of zorconium found only in Mordor.
@NotMax: Or Zardoz.
@NotMax: Good trivia!
@NotMax, @zhena gogolia:
I yield to the geologists!
Semi-obscure Bacharach/David delivered by Warwick:
Walking Backwards Down the Road.
That whole album—Feliciano! (1968)—is excellent.
@Layer8Problem: Rockland County! I was in White Plains for the first half of the ’60s, then moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut for the second half. We also had a station wagon. No seat belts, and I regularly rode in the “very back,” stretched out, watching the road zooming out of my feet.
Those were the days, my friend.
Shirley Bassey sings Bacharach compilation.
Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, “The Look of Love.”
I’m pretty sure the very first LP I owned was Make It Easy on Yourself, which was a mostly instrumental recording that included arrangements of some of his hits like This Guy’s In Love and Do You Know the Way to San Jose, and also had Burt singing the title track. I eventually owned several of his A&M records, and maybe it set me up subliminally for a lifetime of loving unusual time signatures.
@karen marie: Jeez, Westchester! That was my early Eighties through 2013, mostly in Mount Kisco.
And Mary Hopkin! My parents burned out the album that was on.
Somebody’s gonna mention Petula Clark next. Hopefully she’s got a few years left. She’s ninety. I checked.
@Steeplejack: Love that version!
Have been humming and singing his songs ever since the news.
Cannot be sad for someone who lived to 94, but grateful for his talents (and Hal David’s wonderful lyrics). Soundtrack of my childhood, fer sure. Love me some Dionne Warwick, and he wrote several songs I did not know were his.
I always liked Henry Mancini, too. Both elegant gentlemen.
Guess no one is going to mention Karen
J R in WV
I’m not fond of the NYTimes, but their obit of Burt Bacharach is a great review of a great musician. I’m sure their list of his songs are a tiny portion of his work. Amazing list of songs performed by so many different singers.
Thanks for reminding me! Jerry Butler, “Make It Easy on Yourself.”
The Walker Brothers also did a good version.
Yes, Promises, Promises.
First show I ever produced, so there’s that kind of history. (Remake of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, so there’s an edge to it that wasn’t in Neil Simon’s work until his later career).
Also, the musical with the smash dance number (with the dorkiest title), Turkey Lurkey Time (with dance legends Donna McKechnie and Baayork Lee).
Chuck Jackson, “Any Day Now.”
From the Washington Post obituary:
The Shirelles, “Baby It’s You.”
@Delk: Beautifully done. Someone asked me what was my first pop music concert, and I realized that it was as one of the child back-up singers on “Sing, Sing A Song” when The Carpenters came through my hometown about that time. Karen, Richard, and the whole entourage were very kind to our little group. In the performance, Karen held the microphone in front of each of us during the chorus at a time so we could have our “solo” moment. Great memories.
Flashback – I remember seeing Butch and Sundance in first release in a theater, and that insertion of Raindrops came totally out of left field.
And open thread stuff – reporting today that some of the Trump classified documents were scanned into a laptop and on a thumb drive. Huh?!
David 🎈🕵️The Establishment 📸🛩 Koch
Obama had Bacharach at a White House for a concert televised on PBS and it was great (video)
@zhena gogolia: Yes, that beats the heck out of my encounter, when he cut in front of me at the Express line at the Albertsons supermarket in Solana Beach Ca. I wouldn’t have recognized him, but the cashier asked if he was Burt. If I recall, he was buying Pepto Bismol, which may also explain why he was in hurry…
Cilla Black, who debuted “Alfie,” on the grueling sessions at Abbey Road:
” I certainly wouldn’t have done it if he was Quasimodo. But because it was Burt and he was gorgeous and I enjoyed his company.”
I think Dusty Springfield’s take on “The Look of Love” is gorgeous.
He wrote so many beautiful songs, but to me these will always be the most vulnerable changes — not just the lyrics, but the chords underneath them. Is he 80 in this interview? He can still touch a piano, and a heart.
David 🎈🕵️The Establishment 📸🛩 Koch
I think Bacharach’s “Something Big” sung by Mark Lindsay is underrated (link)
One of my favorite ski runs anywhere is a classic run in the Back Bowls of Vail named Forever. The run is a broad treeless romp down a 1,800 vertical foot south facing slope that, as the name implies, goes on Forever. And every time I pass through the gate at the top, I have I Say a Little Prayer run through my head. And I make big turns through the powder forever and ever, with the song lasting the whole run.
@Layer8Problem: So you’re familiar with Playland?
I loved Playland. We went often when we lived in White Plains, and when I was in elementary school we went there on field trips.
Soon we’ll all be dead but the songs will live on.
@Steeplejack: All I had to do was see the song title and I could hear that song. Gorgeous.
@oldster: so cool
@karen marie: Oh yeah, over many a year, school trips and family jaunts. I took the little guy on a ride he was desperate to go on that was a little too fast for him, and spent a few minutes holding him and calming him until it stopped. Then we went to the arcade where the movie Big ended and watched horseshoe crabs in the Sound.
Can’t let the thread die without including David and Bacharach’s genuine rocker: Love, “My Little Red Book.”
There go two miscreants
@Steeplejack: Originally written for Manfred Mann!
@karen marie & Layer8Problem: I was in Matawan NJ from 63 to 67 also in the back of a station wagon without seatbelts — at least in the very back. I know my dad retrofitted our 65 Ford Falcon w belts but can’t remember about the 1960 Rambler Station Wagon w the push button gear shift.
But I remember the songs more from after we moved back to Illinios. They were on the AM radio broadcast at the beach – or what passed for a beach which was an old sand quarry that had filled with water. Didn’t look much like Sandy Hook or Asbury Park, though.
@J R in WV: The Times obits are one of their strengths generally, or maybe their music obits which are the ones I read.
@Steeplejack: Thanks for the link. I was familiar with Elvis’s version (No not EC, the other one from his 68 Comeback if I recall correctly, or from around the same time if I don’t).
@There go two miscreants:
Their version of the song, which was written for the Casino Royale soundtrack, was a dismal failure (with good reason). I don’t think it even charted in the U.S. (Wikipedia says Billboard #124.)
Here’s Carole King’s remembrance of Burt (Washington Post gift article via the link): https://wapo.st/3HTkWDH
There are a few songs I can’t listen to – e.g., The Circle Game (Joni and probably lots of covers) and Cat Stevens’ Silent Sunlight. (Sorta of a piece.) I have to turn them off or plug my ears if they ever get played in my vicinity as I will sob for a quarter hour and be blue for a week. Then there’s Burt Bacharach’s Hasbrook Heights. (I prefer his sung version – missed notes, craggy voice and all, rather than the polished Warwick version). Its effect on me is the direct opposite of those. Joyful. I want to throw some things in a grip and take the early train. Thank you, Mr. Bacharach.
Here you go. Burt Bacharach, “Hasbrook Heights.”
What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?
@evap: Technically you said DeShannon did the definitive version of “What the World Needs Now” and it wasn’t clear you were saying the same for his version of I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.
I thought Naked Eyes did a great job of turning “Always Something There to Remind Me” into a synth pop masterpiece.
What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?
@evap: I do agree on the pneumonia phone ya rhyme. One thing about that song…does the DeShannon version have the the verse that starts “What do you get when you give your heart?” – it’s in the Costello version and I wonder if Elvis wrote a new verse for the song because it’s not in Warwick’s version.
It’s a really good verse “What do you get when you give your heart? / You get it all broken up and battered. / That’s what you get, a heart that’s shattered. / I’ll never fall in love again.
@Steeplejack: As a huge fan of 80s New Wave music, Naked Eyes’ version of Always Something There to Remind Me is my go to version. Given the range of styles that the song has been recorded as just show how great it is.
One great comment after another – and no way to acknowledge their brilliance in the moment. Sad!