Burt Bacharach (1928-2023)

Academy Award winner

Burt BacharachThe New York Times obituary for Burt Bacharach quoted the composer from his 2013 autobiography, “Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music,” written with Robert Greenfield.

“Mr. Bacharach suggested that as a songwriter, he had been ‘luckier than most.’

“’Most composers sit in a room by themselves, and nobody knows what they look like,’ he wrote. ‘People may have heard some of their songs, but they never get to see them onstage or on television.’ Because he was also a performer, he noted, ‘I get to make a direct connection with people.’

“’Whether it’s just a handshake or being stopped on the street and asked for an autograph or having someone comment on a song I’ve written,’ Mr. Bacharach added, ‘that connection is really meaningful and powerful for me.’”

I thought about that sentiment back in 2012 when Burt’s long-time writing partner, Hal David, died. His passing did not receive the notice I felt his body of work deserved.

On the other hand, Hal wasn’t “sleepy-eyed handsome and suave” or married to Angie Dickinson, the Rat Pack-affiliated star of the television show Police Woman. Burt was, from 1965 to 1981, helping him to be a star in his own right. 

Bacharach acknowledged in the autobio that the split with David “was all my fault, and I can’t imagine how many great songs I could have written with Hal in the years we were apart.”

The Times article has several hyperlinks, which you should be able to play. Still, I’ll put a few here.

Award winner

From THR: ” Bacharach also won two Academy Awards for his work on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969): best song for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” [BJ Thomas] and best musical score. He also won the song Oscar for “Arthur’s Theme” (Best That You Can Do) [Christopher Cross]” from Arthur (1981), which he shared with his third wife, lyricist Carole Bayer Sager; Peter Allen; and singer Christopher Cross.

“Bacharach’s compositions received three other Oscar noms, all of which he shared with David: “What’s New Pussycat” [Tom Jones] from the 1965 Woody Allen comedy; “Alfie” [Cher], the title tune from the 1966 Michael Caine classic; and “The Look Of Love” [Dusty Springfield],” from Casino Royale (1967).

“Bacharach later wrote and produced songs with Bayer Sager, including Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For” [with Elton John · Gladys Knight · Stevie Wonder], which won the 1986 Grammy for song of the year; “They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To”recorded by Kenny Rogers for Tough Guys (1986); and the theme from Baby Boom (Ever Changing Times by Siedah Garrett, 1987).

Okay, a few more:

Naked Eyes – Always Something There To Remind Me

A variety of songs from Variety, including, naturally, some by Dionne Warwick 

Composer Hal David would have been 100

About 700 songs

Hal DavidHere’s a list of the songs written by Hal David. Keep reading; it’s very long. While many of them were written with Burt Bacharach, a number of them were not.

As I noted when he died back in 2012, he was far less well-known than his regular writing partner. While I surely recognize the importance of the music, without the lyricist, they’re just a bunch of pretty tunes lacking the resonance of the core message of the songs.

Some of his accomplishments, too many to list:

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, which was in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, garnered an Oscar. What’s New Pussycat, Alfie, and The Look of Love received Oscar nominations.

He garnered numerous Grammys. Don’t Make Me Over, Close to You, and Walk on By are all in the Grammy Hall of Fame. He had 40 top 10 songs.

Hal was elected to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His work is quoted in “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations,” and the book of his lyrics, entitled “What the World Needs Now and Other Love Lyrics” was published by Simon and Schuster.

I didn’t link to the same tracks that I used in 2012. And I’ve made an attempt to avoid selecting Dionne Warwick, who I love, on every other cut, though she’s likely recorded half of these songs.

Records that chart on the major Billboard charts in the 1960s are indicated.


24 Hours from Tulsa – Dusty Springfield

A House Is Not a Home – Ella Fitzgerald
Alfie – Nancy Wilson
(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me – Sandie Shaw, #52 pop in 1965
American Beauty Rose – Frank Sinatra (Hal David/Redd Evans/Arthur Altman)
Anyone Who Had a Heart – Linda Ronstadt
The April Fools – Dionne Warwick, #8 adult contemporary, #33 RB, #37 pop in 1969

Blue on Blue – Bobby Vinton, #2 AC for three weeks, #3 pop in 1963

Do You Know the Way to San Jose – Neil Diamond
Don’t Make Me Over – Sybil

I Say A Little Prayer – the Overtones
It Was Almost Like a Song – Ronnie Milsap (Hal David/Archie Jordan)

Johnny Get Angry – Joanie Sommers (Sherman Edwards/Hal David), #7 pop in 1962; you don’t hear kazoo nearly enough

(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valence – Gene Pitney, #4 pop in 1962
The Look of Love – Diana Krall

Magic Moments – Perry Como
Make It Easy on Yourself – Jerry Butler, #18 RB, #20 pop in 1962

More songs

Message to Michael – the Marvelettes
My Heart is an Open Book – Dean Martin (Lee Pockriss/Hal David)

One Less Bell To Answer/A House Is Not A Home – Barbra Streisand

Promises, Promises – Dionne Warwick, #7 AC, #19 pop, #47 RB in 1968 

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head – Izzie Naylor
Reach Out for Me – Lou Johnson, #31 RB, #74 pop in 1963

This Guy’s in Love with You – Oasis
To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before  – Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson (Hal David, Albert Hammond)
Trains and Boats and Planes – the Box Tops

Walk on By – the Beach Boys
What the World Needs Now (Is Love) – Broadway for Orlando, “an all-star group of artists from the theatre and pop world: Sara Bareilles, Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Gloria Estefan, Carole King, Sarah Jessica Parker, and many more.”
What’s New Pussycat – Tom Jones, #3 pop for two weeks in 1965
The Windows Of The World – The Pretenders
Wishin’ and Hopin’ – Ani DiFranco
Wives and Lovers – Jack Jones, #9AC in 1963, #14 pop in 1964

You’ll Never Get to Heaven (If you Break My Heart) – the Stylistics

Composer Hal David would have been 100 on May 25, 2021.

Music Throwback Saturday: Anyone Who Had a Heart

The fact that Black’s version of Anyone Who Had a Heartstalled Warwick’s version at #47 in the UK bugged Warwick even 30 years later.

Dionne WarwickMy Times Union blogger buddy Chuck Miller linked to a version of Anyone Who Had a Heart by someone named Anja Nissen which you can hear HERE or HERE. It’s nice, it’s fine.

But I’m forever a fan of the original of the Burt Bacharach (music) and the late Hal David (lyrics) song, which was the Dionne Warwick version, released in late 1963, and getting to its zenith on three different charts in 1964: #8 on the Top 100, #6 on the rhythm & blues charts, and #2, for three weeks, on the adult contemporary charts.

There were a number of versions over the years. Heck, there was a lot in 1964 alone:

Percy Faith, 1964
Dusty Springfield, 1964
Cilla Black, 1964 #1 in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and South Africa.
According to Wikipedia, the fact that Black’s version stalled Warwick’s version at #47 in the UK bugged Warwick even 30 years later.

Petula Clark, in French (Ceux Qui Ont Un Coeur) #7 in France in 1964
Petula Clark, in Italian (Quelli che hanno un cuore) #5 in Italy in 1964
Petula Clark, in Spanish (Tú No Tienes Corazón) #1 in Spain for two weeks in 1964

Four Seasons, 1965
The Lettermen, 1968
Martha and the Vandellas, 1972
Linda Ronstadt, 1992
Josey James, 2012

What’s YOUR favorite version? (Note to Sharp Little Pencil: I think I know your pick.) My second favorite is probably the Ronstadt take. The Vandellas version is interesting, but I’m not sold on it.

Hal David, R.I.P.

I have nothing more to say. Hal David said it all.

I had this conversation back in the 1980s with this comic book writer, and he was lightly complaining about how the artist always seemed to get the credit for a magazine’s success. That may or may not have been a valid complaint, given the Marvel style of putting the product together.

My own complaint is that in a songwriting duo with defined roles, it seems that the person writing the music seems to get more attention than the guy who writes the words. Perhaps lyricists are less outgoing. That certainly appears to be the case with lyricist Hal David, who died recently, in a relationship with long-time partner Burt Bacharach. Check out this article for a history of their team.

The duo was recently awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

I have nothing more to say. Hal David said it all, with his lyrics. Links to all songs.
(I made a point of NOT picking only Dionne Warwick songs, which would have been easy to do.)

Gene Pitney – Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa
Cilla Black – Anyone who had a heart
Dusty Springfield – Wishin and Hopin
Jackie DeShannon – What the World Needs Now
Billy J Kramer – Trains And Boats And Planes
Dionne Warwick – Message To Michael
Dionne Warwick – The Windows of the World
Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer
Herb Alpert – This Guy’s in Love with You
Isaac Hayes – Walk on By short (4:30) version; the longer version here
B.J. Thomas – Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
The 5th Dimension – One Less Bell to Answer
Carpenters – Close to You
Naked Eyes- Always Something There To Remind Me
James Taylor – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Luther Vandross – A House Is Not A Home (live)

Valentine’s Day

Both songs speak of yearning. I know, from vast past experience, that Valentine’s Day is not hearts and flowers for everyone.

At my core, Valentine’s Day is one of those mixed blessings days. Why, for instance, do I so connect with a song written by lyricist Hal David and composer Burt Bacharach, Anyone Who Had A Heart? It was performed originally by Dionne Warwick and covered by several others (Cilla Black, Luther Vandross, Wynonna Judd, Dusty Springfield, Shelby Lynne, among others).
Anyone who had a heart
Would take me in his arms and love me, too
You couldn’t really have a heart and hurt me,
Like you hurt me and be so untrue
What am I to do

Here’s Dionne’s version of Anyone Who Had a Heart.

I also relate to Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder). It’s a song from the legendary Beach Boys album Pet Sounds, written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher
Being here with you feels so right
We could live forever tonight
Let’s not think about tomorrow
And don’t talk put your head on my shoulder
Come close, close your eyes and be still
Don’t talk, take my hand and listen to my heart beat
Listen, listen, listen.

Here’s a couple of Beach Boys versions:
a capella and traditional.

Both songs speak of yearning. I know, from vast past experience, that Valentine’s Day is not hearts and flowers for everyone. I guess that’s why I relate to the melancholy songs so much.

Not incidentally, these two songs are performed back to back on Linda Ronstadt’s Winter Light album, which appears to be out of print, AND I can’t find either track on the Intersnet. One can find them on her box set.
I should say that Scott, who noted my mom’s passing in his blog, and Jaquandor, who had mentioned it previously, are each requesting that you Ask Them Anything. Here’s Scott’s link, and Jaquandor’s.

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