Thanks Burt, for the Memories, and for Creating Your Unique “Sound” – RIP Mr Bacharach

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I’m not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago, the song “Alfie” was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, “What’s it all about?” and I’m hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

Well, it doesn’t get much closer to home than this one. If you ever scroll down through one of my blog posts to reach the comments boxes, the words above are what you will read. Each post is attributed to the author (only me around here), and the blog’s short mission statement is attached. To be honest the blog didn’t start out as What’s It All About? – the domain name I originally bagged was for one called the Jukebox Time Machine. After a very short space of time however I found myself continually returning to the late 1960s, and specifically to the songs of Burt Bacharach, so a change came about. I heard the news of his passing last night before going to bed and of course this morning the radio stations were awash with songs from his vast back catalogue, songs that have been shared around here many times. Burt even has his very own category on my sidebar, and only George Michael has been written about more often.

My prized CD boxset containing 60 of Burt’s songs

But of course unlike George Michael, Burt Bacharach didn’t actually sing the songs or write the lyrics for them, so how is it that we all know his name and can so readily recognise the songs attributed to him? Because he came up with something known as the “Bacharach Sound”. Though his style was sometimes called easy listening, he wasn’t particularly keen on that label. It might have been easy on the ears, but it was anything but easy to come up with. The precise arrangements, the shifts in meter, the varied selection of instruments used, and fitting the lyrics to all the notes, proved challenging to singers and musicians, BUT, what a sound. When I listen to a Bacharach song it’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket of mellifluous sound. Think Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, Julie London , BJ Thomas and Christopher Cross. Yes, there are times when we want to listen to something more rousing or difficult but few things give me more joy than having a Burt Bacharach song pop up unexpectedly on the radio or on a film soundtrack.

The links above are to previous posts so I won’t share those songs again. I will however share the very first song from my CD boxset, which was also the first hit song Burt wrote with Hal David. The Story Of My Life, recorded by Michael Holliday, reached the No. 1 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 1958. The song that replaced it at the top spot was Perry Como’s Magic Moments, also written by Bacharach and David, the first time there were consecutive No. 1s by the same songwriter/s on the British chart. They were on a roll.

The Story Of My Life by Michael Holliday:

I’ve always thought the title of this song is very relevant to this blog, as in a roundabout way I have told the story of my life whilst journeying back through “the tracks of my years”, sharing the memories. Very few of us live high octane lives full of adventure and momentous happenings, but each of us has our own story to tell (if we are so inclined) and whenever I share Burt’s songs I am reminded of my childhood growing up as part of a small but loving family in rural Scotland. I am reminded of: my dad making us laugh with his impressions of Gene Pitney; watching the Cilla show on a Saturday night when she sang the song Alfie; and, experiencing the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when it first aired on television, but having to run and hide in the pantry after feeling embarrassed about crying so much over the ending. All of these memories feature the songs of Burt Bacharach.

Another song that hasn’t been shared around here before is Don’t Make Me Over, the first of many Bacharach and David songs recorded by Dionne Warwick. It was the lead single from her debut album and its success led to the formation of one of the most successful musical pairings in popular music history. One of the backing singers on the record was Dionne’s aunt, Cissy Houston, who was pregnant with her youngest child, Whitney Houston!

Don’t Make Me Over by Tommy Hunt:

I think I’ll finish with two versions of I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, the first version by Deacon Blue was filmed in our local theatre, a place I know really well, as part of a week long set of concerts by Scottish artists for the BBC. Deacon Blue opted for a slower arrangement and the song was released in 1990 as part of a four-song EP called, understandably, Four Bacharach & David Songs. I love Deacon Blue as they wrote some wonderful and memorable songs, but it was this one by Burt that gave them their biggest hit in the UK. For the music clip I’ve shared the Bobbie Gentry version from 1969, when she reached the top spot on the UK Singles Chart. As a child I liked the line about the germs you’d get from kissing a boy (eugh), but I also liked her really big hair (although I think there must have been a bit of trickery going on up there). 

I’ll Never Fall In Love Again by Bobbie Gentry:

So, a bit of a tribute post, but this time no sadness, just a celebration of the life of a man who made it to the grand old age of 94 – a man who will be remembered as one the most important and influential figures of 20th century popular music.

Oh, and for the record, I watched a Special once where Burt was asked the question, “What’s It All About?”. He said, as per the song Alfie, it was love… Listening to all these wonderful songs, that seems about right. Here’s to love, and RIP Burt Bacharach.

Burt Bacharach 1928 to 2023

Until next time…

I’ll Never Fall In Love Again Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

What do you get when you fall in love?
A guy with a pin to burst your bubble
That’s what you get for all your trouble
I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again

What do you get when you kiss a guy?
You get enough germs to catch pneumonia
After you do, he’ll never phone you
I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again

Don’t tell me what it’s all about
‘Cause I’ve been there and I’m glad I’m out
Out of those chains, those chains that bind you
That is why I’m here to remind you

(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
Oh, I’ll never fall in love again)

(What do you get when you fall in love?
You get enough tears to fill an ocean
That’s what you get for your devotion
I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again)

What do you get when you fall in love?
You only get lies and pain and sorrow
So, for at least until tomorrow
I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

18 thoughts on “Thanks Burt, for the Memories, and for Creating Your Unique “Sound” – RIP Mr Bacharach”

    1. It was tough to write as so much I could have written – had to just choose a few songs that hadn’t been shared around here before. Out of the hundreds available that was tough.


  1. As Ernie says an excellent tribute
    I’m sure that none of the 60 songs on your boxset would have been out of place or indeed another 60.
    The man was a genius. One of the greatest if not THE greatest songwriters of the 20th century.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He apparently wrote over 500 songs, so as you say, plenty to choose from. 6 Grammys, 3 Oscars and an Emmy too.

      Still find it weird that he didn’t write the lyrics, or sing the songs, but will probably be remembered as one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. He was a bit like these producers/DJs of today I suppose who have other people sing the songs and write the lyrics but are responsible for the whole sound and feel of the thing. He’s not for everyone I know but since starting this blog I’ve revisited the late 60s so often – inevitable I would write about lots of Burt Bacharach songs. He was for Deacon Blue it seems, and I did like when The Stranglers covered Walk On By.


  2. My apologies, Alyson, for being slow to respond to your wonderful post celebrating the life of Burt Bacharach. Life (more precisely grandkids) keep getting in the way, but no one here is complaining.
    Reflecting back, I think I became aware of Bacharach’s music in the very early 1960’s. While I remember, in the late ’50s, Perry Como’s “Magic Moments”, “The Story of My Life” by either Michael Holliday or Marty Robbins didn’t reach me until much later, via a compilation CD. (Guess even I’m not old enough to remember all his
    music 🙂 )
    Bacharach’s early ’60s music was a comfortable bridge from the ‘Cole Porter/George Gershwin’ era to the Hit Parade Pop sound that would dominate easy listening in the mid 20th century. Great melodies, heavily influenced by the urban sounds of his youth, caused his music to be tailor made for black voices, both single artists and groups. It was ‘R&B Lite’, when compared to the ‘Soul’ sound that would rule later in the ’60s.
    Bacharach David songs were all over the charts via Chuck Jackson, Jerry Butler, Gene McDaniels, Timi Yuro, The Drifters and The Shirelles. With that success, the likes of Gene Pitney, Bobby Vinton, Bobby Vee, Babs Tino and ultimately Dionne Warwick lined up for Bacharach David songs.
    Dionne Warwick, discovered as a session singer during a Drifters recording, became the pre-eminent voice for Bacharach David material. Her voice was almost an ‘instrument’ for both the composer and lyricist as they tested their new musical ideas.
    Later in the decade, Hollywood and the movies discovered the Bacharach David music. “What’s New Pussycat”, “Casino Royale” , “Alfie” and “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” all used Bacharach David material. Broadway also offered “Promises Promises”, a musical based on the 1960 move “The Apartment”. (remember “you get enough germs to catch Pneumonia” rhyming with “.. he’ll never phone ya”).
    The end of the ’60s gave us two great examples of the ‘sound’ that Bacharach’ melodies and arrangements had cemented. ‘Close To You” and “This Guy’s In Love With You” are arguably two of the finest pop songs ever composed and recorded.
    Looking back, the ’70s were leaner years. There were fights with both Hal David and Dionne Warwick. The result was less music to enjoy. In the eighties, a partnership (both romantic and creative) with Carole Bayer Sagar brought Bacharach back to the charts with “That’s What Friends Are For”, “On My Own” and “Arthur’s Theme” among others.
    In the 80s and beyond, Bacharach wrote with other partners including Elvis Costello, Neil Diamond and even Hal David (again). Over the last few years, I’ve discovered some great songs that he recently wrote with Daniel Tasiarch and also with Melody Federer.
    What a canon Burt Bacharach has left us! Is there anyone else that has left us so much music over 8 decades.?Truly, the ‘soundtrack of my years”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Damian – I did expect this one to resonate with you so glad to have you drop by (and you can never be ‘late’).

      Wow, what a lot of additional information there too – I think you maybe need to start your own blog? I’ve written about a lot of the songs Burt/Hal did for films already and have shared many of his other songs so it was hard coming up with anything new for this one, so I just went with something from the early days, the first song he wrote for Dionne and the one covered by our own Deacon Blue (and filmed in our local theatre – almost my second home!).

      That’s interesting what you say about ‘R&B Lite’ – sums it up. I hate the label ‘Easy Listening’ as it ignores just how complex these songs were to write – easy on the ears is surely a good thing but it has become a bit of a derogatory term. Fortunately Burt’s songs have been covered by many, many artists who most definitely didn’t interpret them to fit the ‘Easy Listening’ camp at all. Always a joy.

      He lived long enough to have written music over 8 decades and he certainly outlived a lot of people who will only have known a time when Burt was making new music. There won’t be many other tributes where we can say the same.


  3. A wonderful tribute to a great man. Time constraints have stopped me penning my own so far, but I will do soon.

    You hit the nail on the head when you say that his music was anything but “easy” to create. Simon Indelicate, a musician I have a lot of respect for,posted this comment about your final song last week…

    “The best Bacharach song – probably the best adult contemporary song full stop – brilliant if you don’t know anything about chords and that – utterly ridiculously brilliant if you do.”

    I love Bobbie Gentry et al, but Deacon Blue is my favourite version too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did say I was going to limit the tributes to people I have written about before or who really mean something to me, but the way it’s going, there’s just about one of them a week at the moment. I started out in 2016 and there were a lot of tributes that year but from now on it’s going to get intense. Burt was a big one for this blog though.

      That’s a great quote from Simon. I’ve listened to the song again and don’t know anything about chords so can only enjoy the brilliance of the song – those who are musicians are obviously bowled over.

      I was so chuffed that version by Deacon Blue was on YouTube – I didn’t see them that week but I did on other occasions. It was quite a week for our town having a concert by a top band every night and then being able to watch it again on telly. Over 30 years ago now though – argh…


  4. What a magnificent tribute to a music giant. Well done, Alyson. Anyone reading this can feel the affection you have for his music, and how much it has informed your life, as well as this blog. I especially enjoyed the Deacon Blue clip. RIP Mr. Bacharach. What a life. In addition to his (and Hal David’s) work with Dionne Warwick, some of my favorite Bacharach moments are The Carpenters’ “Close To You,” BJ Thomas’ “Raindrops…,” his collaboration with Elvis Costello (the last Elvis C. album I loved), his appearance in the first Austin Powers movie and his recent work with Rumer.
    On an unrelated note, I’m listening to a compilation of Altered Images as I type this. It’s very good. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rich – It wasn’t really meant as a tribute in its true sense, but this blog being called what it is I had to write one. It was tough to decide which three songs to share as so many have already been written about around here (the ones you mention) so just went with those above for the reasons mentioned.

      He certainly did have a bit of a resurgence in the late 90s/early 2000s – loved the scene in Austin Powers with him and Elvis Costello playing in the street. Some younger fans would have got to know his songs.

      Ha ha – so you’re listening to the Scottish pixie of pop. Such a long time ago now but I was reminded of them when you mentioned Mr Kemp. Glad you’re enjoying them. I’m afraid I don’t know much about The Tubes at all other than their name so not qualified to score at your place this week but I will drop by.


      1. No need to drop by “my place” if you have no connection to what I wrote about. I’m not fishing for likes or comments. Of course, I always love hearing from you, but I understand that you don’t know much about The Tubes. I figured they didn’t make much of (or any?) splash in the UK.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Those who were fans would know of them but not really on my radar. You’re right I should keep my commenting to the artists who meant something to me – I’m sure I’d have one of my ‘anecdotes’ up my sleeve!


  5. Such a wonderful post. Whilst I can’t say that I was ever much of a Deacon Blue fan, I really liked their version of I’ll Never Fall In Love Again. Bobbie Gentry’s take just about pips it for me (as evidenced when she was included in my Burt tribute) but I enjoyed watching the clip of them performing it live as well. I think Ricky nailed it with the vocals. As for The Stranglers’ version of Walk On By, well…

    It was lovely to read some of your childhood memories too: I think your dad’s impression of Gene Pitney would have been much easier on the ear than my dad’s, then or now!

    I wrote about it in my post but I continue to be struck by how Burt’s music has not only stood the test of time but also inspired so many faithful cover versions. There’s something magical about the composition, the melody that encourages and inspires most artists not to stray to far but to inhabit the songs with their own personality.

    My selection opened with Do You Know The Way To San Jose by Dionne Warwick but I first ‘properly’ heard the song as a 13 year old when it was covered by Frankie Goes To Hollywood on their debut album. I think I knew the song already but because I used to play the FGTH album over and over (on cassette tape), I really listened to the song, the melody, the lyrics. I had no idea at the time that it was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David… Dionne Warwick was just the woman who had sung Heartbreaker a couple of years previously.

    Just one example of what a musical genius Burt was. Thanks again, Alyson!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah thank you but as I already had a Burt Bacharach category on my sidebar there wasn’t much more to write, except choose some more songs from his vast back catalogue. Glad this wasn’t a sad or tragic tribute though like some of them of late.

      Glad you like the Deacon Blue version (one of my favourite bands) – a live version in the clip so not as polished as on the record which also featured the Look of Love and two lesser known songs. I don’t think I know the Frankie GTH version of Do You Know… so am going to seek it out. They were all powerful back then with that wall of sound so think I’d like it. Great how so many people could cover Burt’s songs and each bring something new to the party.

      As for my dad’s impression, just one of those things I remember from childhood. We all hung out in the ‘living room’ (no central heating) and had one smallish telly, so we discovered all these songs at the same time. Gene Pitney made quite an impact as he had quite a distinctive voice and delivery, especially on 24 Hours From Tulsa.


    1. He certainly was a remarkable man and lived to a ripe old age unlike some of the more recent deaths from the world of music. Leaving behind over 500 songs of great quality is quite something.


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