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.

I am the eggman

Coo coo ca choo is believed to be used in songs and in 60s and 70s slang as a phrase left to be freely interpreted by anyone based on the surrounding context it is used in.

Sometimes, librarians get distracted by non-work-related stuff.

One of our librarians wanted to help a colleague who operates a trivia night competition periodically. He was working on a variation on a question he heard in a Trivial Pursuit edition, something along the lines of “Which two 1960s classic songs, released within a year of each other, both use the phrase ‘koo kook a choo'”.

Librarian that he is, he wanted to know how to “spell” the “koo koo”. While researching, he came across this:

So, he asked me, someone who has a passing interest and knowledge of Beatles stuff: “Is the line, then, as used by John, ‘goo goo g’joob’?” That, in fact IS the way I learned it. And most sources agree.

The Urban Dictionary is more catholic about this:

Coo coo ca choo

The phrase was first used in songs by artists such as The Beatles and shortly after by Simon & Garfunkel. This phrase has absolutely no definitive meaning given by dictionaries or artists such as John Lennon who first used it. The phrase has two other widely known spellings: goo goo g’joob and kukukachu. It is believed to be used in songs and in 60s and 70s slang as a phrase left to be freely interpreted by anyone based on the surrounding context it is used in. The freedom to bestow any meaning upon the phrase makes the word a statement about freedom of expression, which is a meaning in itself.

If I were doing the trivia night, I’d toss this question.

Here’s I Am The Walrus by the Beatles. Plus the parody Piggy in the Middle by the Rutles, which uses “Doo-a-poo-poo.”
And for good measure, here is Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel.

John Lennon would be 74 today, and it’s Sean Lennon’s 39th birthday.
John and Yoko in love and on love

Lyrical revenge

I realized that this was some sort of cosmic payback.

I was at a church meeting recently, which hadn’t really started. I was sitting next to one guy, and it seemed that every other sentence uttered by the others was a cue for a song lyric to pop into my head. It was coming so fast and furiously that I stopped citing the song and would just mention the artist. “Fleetwood Mac!” “Led Zeppelin!” “Jackson Browne!” Indeed, after a while, I only noted every OTHER song I was hearing from the discussion.

It’s fun, but it’s also a curse. I don’t go listening for songs; they just well up in my brain. I used to subject my mother to this torture when I was growing up, but it was a bit of a wasted effort since she usually didn’t know my reference point.

A few days ago, the Daughter was lying on the sofa and said something I thought was funny, so I chuckled. She said, with a straight face, “How can you laugh when you know I’m down?” She was quoting lyrics from the Beatles, and an obscure song at that, the B-side of the single Help.

I realized that this was some sort of cosmic payback.

The graphic above I stole from Facebook and indeed reposted. Someone commented, “I can vouch that it’s true.”

I’m Down – the Beatles (1965).

Monday Monday; no, wrong Mamas & Papas song

I’m listening to the Coverville podcast a few months ago, as I usually do a couple of times a week. Brian was doing the Mondegreen episode, a term that, if I had heard it, I had forgotten. The definition, which I stole from somewhere: “Misheard lyrics (also called mondegreens) occur when people misunderstand the lyrics in a song. These are NOT intentional rephrasing of lyrics, which is called parody.” There are whole websites devoted to this issue.

The last song on the show, not only had I gotten wrong for years, but have SUNG it incorrectly when performing with my sister.

The correct lyric is:

stopped into a church
I passed along the way
well, I got down on my knees
and I pretend to pray

Yet all these years, I had been hearing:
and I began to pray

To be fair to me, many other people of my vintage heard it the same way. I know this because I asked a number of them. And it is noted as a common error in Kiss This Guy, named after a misheard line from Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze: “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”

I never misheard that Hendrix lyric or this line from California Dreamin’ offered up by Am I Right?
Misheard Lyrics:
You know you’re preaching like the Pope.
Original Lyrics:
You know the preacher likes the cold.

But the one I DID mishear I’ve thought about a number of times since. Seems that the fact that the verse has three verbs in the past tense (stopped, passed, got) tunes the ear for a fourth (began) rather than a present tense verb such as pretend. They COULD have sung “pretended” and I don’t think it ruins the scansion. Here are the complete lyrics.

BTW, what linguistic tool is being used when you speak in the present tense about things that happened in the past? “So I go to the store. I see an item I want. I buy it.” Past action, but present tense verbs.

Anyway, HERE is a version of the hit song that only went to #4 in the US charts in 1966 by the Mamas and the Papas, and HERE is another. The song is attributed to John Phillips and Michelle Gilliam.

John eventually married and divorced Michelle. John performed this version on his album Phillips 66, which was released posthumously in 2001; he would have been 75 today. Michelle Phillips is the remaining survivor of the Mamas and the Papas.

What lyrics have YOU misheard, and how did you finally figure it out?

Z is for at the ZOO

Yes, what ARE they talking about? I’ve been paranoid about gathered birds…

Simon & Garfunkel had been performing on their “Old Friends” tour this year, and I had been considering going to one of the shows in Massachusetts. Then I heard the show had to be canceled because of Art Garfunkel’s vocal paresis.

Old Friends/Bookends was the last pair of songs, segued together, on the first side of the 1968 S&G album, Bookends. The collection also featured “Mrs. Robinson”, “A Hazy Shade of Winter” and “America”.

At the Zoo was the last song on the second side of the album. (Remember when albums had “sides”?) Here’s a video of the song.

I recall really liking this recording when I was in high school, whereas my good friend Carol HATED it, and also the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever; odd the things one recalls. And I was particularly fascinated by the attributes that Paul Simon assigned to the animals.

Someone told me
It’s all happening at the zoo.

I do believe it,
I do believe it’s true.

It’s a light and tumble journey
From the East Side to the park;
Just a fine and fancy ramble
To the zoo.

But you can take the crosstown bus
If it’s raining or it’s cold,
And the animals will love it
If you do.

Somethin’ tells me
It’s all happening at the zoo.

The monkeys stand for honesty,

Could this be a reference to the see no evil/speak no evil/hear no evil depiction of monkeys? (And why IS that?)

Giraffes are insincere,

I suppose that could be because they wouldn’t/couldn’t look you in the eye.

And the elephants are kindly but
They’re dumb.

I suppose this is a function of the pachyderm’s lumbering gait. But I was watching an episode of CBS News 60 Minutes, rerun on July 4, that indicates that elephants are considerably more sophisticated than we might have thought. “Researchers listening to elephant sounds and observing their behavior are compiling an elephant dictionary.”

Orangutans are skeptical
Of changes in their cages,

I mean, aren’t we all wary of change? Perhaps they were picked because they are fellow primates, or because of the scansion of the word “orangutans”.

And the zookeeper is very fond of rum.

Ah, the inmate running the asylum.
Actually, it seems that the understanding of keeping animals in zoos has improved tremendously since I was a child, with more room for the creatures to roam, e.g.

“Paul Simon released a children’s book titled At the Zoo (ISBN 0-385-41771-3) which combines the lyrics of the song with the very detailed illustrations of Valerie Michaut. To make this book appropriate for children, Simon made changes and additions, including identifying Rum as a beaver.”

Zebras are reactionaries,

Because they see everything in black and white?

Antelopes are missionaries,

You know, the horns and the markings on their foreheads rather look like a cross, I believe.

Pigeons plot in secrecy,

Yes, what ARE they talking about? I’ve been paranoid about gathered birds since I saw that Hitchcock film.

And hamsters turn on frequently.

I suspect that hamster cages could generate lots of energy, if only we knew how to harness it. In that aforementioned children’s book, the hamsters are given headlights, which they “turn on frequently”.

What a gas! You gotta come and see
At the zoo.

ABC Wednesday

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