Growing up in a house where music was always on the radio or playing from the stereo, you could say I was exposed to a vast array of genres and therefore enjoy all types of music; especially those from the 1960s and 1970s.
There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of songs that I grew up with that derived from one extremely talented man, Mr. Burt Bacharach. Although you may not be aware, I am certain you have heard his songs. Mr. Bacharach worked with many talented singers from The Carpenters and Dionne Warwick to Herb Alpert, B.J. Thomas, and Christopher Cross, all amazing artists in their own right, who brought his words to life through song.
Soul, Mind, and Spirit
One of my most favorite songs from my younger years was “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.” I had no clue who wrote or even sung the song, just knew I like the catchy tune. While researching for this post, I read somewhere that Mr. B wrote (or co-wrote) and/or composed more than 300 songs in his lifetime (hopefully he still has more in the works for us.) What an accomplishment! (Coming from someone who cannot even begin imagining of composing just the lyrics for one song, much less the composition of the instruments.)
I have sweet sweet memories of being a barefoot kid, walking down the street with friends (Gayla and Mia) while we listened to music on our handheld transistor radio. We heard and sang to songs like Raindrops Keep Falling, Walk on By, I Need Your Love, and I Say a Little Prayer, just to name a few.
It still amazes me at how quickly a song I hear even today transports me back to a specific time in my life. like it just happened yesterday. I can see the scene; for instance me, Gayla and Mia, walking down a side street in Gibsonton, FL from Gayla’s house back to mine where we would talk about boys, play records and do-up each others hair. It was summer, we were wearing sleeveless shirts and short-shorts, the pavement was hot so we tried to stay on the grass next to the road.
Even at the age of forty-eight I can hear a song and think of special times in my life, such as my first ever Yanni or Tim McGraw concert. I distinctly remember who I was with, what we were wearing and other aspects of the day.
Music has a way of feeding our soul, making our mind recall special times, and lifting our spirits. I would just dread living in a world without the “Sound of Music” (which by they way is a move that I’ve yet to see) around us and in movies, oh how boring would life be?
For a complete list of his songs, you can visit the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
According to the Washington Post, Burt’s top 10 songs of all time are:
- 10. “Walk On By” — This was Dionne Warwick’s third Top 40 hit reaching No. 6 in May 1964. The song was ranked No. 70 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
- 9. “On My Own” — Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, this song was made a No. 1 hit in 1986 on the Billboard charts by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald. It was the biggest single for both performers.
- 8. “What the World Needs Now Is Love” — After Dionne Warwick turned it down, Kentucky-born Jackie DeShannon recorded the song and it reached No. 7 on the U.S. charts in 1965. Coldplay has performed the song. Miss DeShannon later had a bigger hit with her 1969 song “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”.
- 7. “That’s What Friends Are For” — Carole Bayer Sager wrote the lyrics for this song, which Rod Stewart sang for the “Night Shift” soundtrack. The song is best known for the version Dionne Warwick and Friends (Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder) recorded and reached No. 1 in the U.S. in 1985 to raise funds for AIDS research.
- 6. “This Guy’s in Love With You” — Primarily known for his trumpet playing, Herb Alpert sang the lead vocals on this excellent 1968 song and scored his first top hit. It was also the first No. 1 hit for the record label A&M that Mr. Alpert founded with Jerry Moss in 1962.
- 5. “Anyone Who Had a Heart” —Dionne Warwick had a No. 8 hit and her first Top 10 single with this song in the U.S. in 1964. Cilla Black, a friend of the Beatles in Liverpool, scored a No. 1 hit in the U.K. with her version of the tune. Her cover became the biggest female hit of the 1960s in the U.K. Petula Clark had a No. 1 hit with the song in Spain.
- 4. “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” — The song became one of Dionne Warwick’s biggest international hits peaking at No. 8 in the U.K., Ireland, and Canada in 1968. It reached No. 10 on the Billboard charts and Miss Warwick won her first Grammy with the song. Hal David, who wrote the lyrics, had a special interest in San Jose, Calif., having been stationed there while in the Navy.
- 3. “I Say A Little Prayer” —Dionne Warwick had a No. 4 hit with the song in 1967. Aretha Franklin also recorded the song, reaching No. 10 in August 1968.
- 2. “Arthur’s Theme” (The Best That You Can Do) — Performed by Christopher Cross, the song was the theme song for the Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli film “Arthur,” for which it won an Academy Award. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The song was a collaboration between Mr. Bacharach, Mr. Cross, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen.
- 1. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” — Ray Stevens was first offered the opportunity to record this song for the film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, but turned it down. B.J. Thomas recorded the song for the film and it became a No. 1 hit in 1969. The song won an Academy Award for best original song and became a No 1 hit on the Billboard charts.
His Life, His Wife, His Child
I may have heard before, but it did not really register with me until I was researching for this post that Burt was married to Angie Dickinson and together they had a daughter whom they named Nikki. Nikki was born three months premature in 1966, lived to the age of 41 when she took her own life. She battle a long life of mental challenges, only for those around her to realize all too late that she was fighting Asperger’s (which is a form of autism.)
For more about Burt’s life, his career, and his music, you can read Burt’s story in his words.
American pianist and composer Burt Bacharach was to receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from President Obama on Wednesday night along with his longtime lyricist, Hal David. It is named for George and Ira Gershwin. (Associated Press)
Thanks Burt for the great music and memories.