MUSIC CLIP - OSCAR PETERSON, “MOONGLOW”
Welcome to Afterglow, [a show of vocal jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook], I’m your host, Mark Chilla.
This past February, fans of the American songbook mourned the loss of one of its icons: the great Burt Bacharach. Bacharach bucked many of the pop trends of the 1960s, preferring a sophisticated and urbane style of songwriting that was unlike the rock and roll sounds of his contemporaries. Moreover, his songs have endured, being interpreted over the years by countless artists. This hour, we’ll explore the songs of his catalog, both in their original versions and in covers by notable jazz and pop artists.
It’s What The World Needs Now: The Burt Bacharach Songbook, coming up next on Afterglow
MUSIC - ELLA FITZGERALD, “A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME”
Singer Ella Fitzgerald, live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1969, performing “A House Is Not A Home,” written in 1964 by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
MUSIC CLIP - BILL EVANS TRIO, “A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME”
Mark Chilla here on Afterglow. On this show, we’re saluting the great songwriter Burt Bacharach, who passed away on February 8th at age 94.
Burt Bacharach was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1928, but grew up mostly in Queens, New York. He developed a bug for pop music while in high school, and later went on to study music and perform as a pianist first at the Catskills and then while enlisted in the Army.
After he was discharged, he worked as an accompanist for people like Vic Damone, the Ames Brothers, and Steve Lawrence. And it was around this time when he realized he could probably write a better song than these acts were performing. So, he got an office in New York’s Brill Building, a songwriting Mecca at the time, and started to compose. It was in the Brill Building in 1957 that he met the lyricist he would spend a career working alongside, Hal David. And over the next several years, he and Hal David produced dozens of pop hits.
I’ve always felt that Bacharach’s music was some kind of relic from a bygone era. His music was lyrical with a touch of jazz, his chord progressions were colorful and complex, and his songs always had a subtle sophistication to them. While the Bacharach songs are stylistically rooted in the 1960s—their “mod” style defined much of the decade in some ways—his craft hearkened back to an earlier era of songwriting, and craftspeople like Jerome Kern or Cole Porter.
Bacharach was never merely a songwriter, though. He was also an arranger and producer, and he took a prominent role in the studio making sure his songs came out exactly as he envisioned. So before we look at some jazz covers of Burt Bacharach tunes, let’s hear some of his original arrangements, performed by one of his most frequent collaborators, Dionne Warwick. Warwick first teamed up with Bacharach and David in 1962, when Warwick was still an unknown singer. Many of Bacharach’s songs were specifically written to fit her style.
Here is Dionne Warwick in 1963, with her first Top 10 single, Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - DIONNE WARWICK, “ANYONE WHO HAD A HEART”
MUSIC - DIONNE WARWICK, “I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN”
Dionne Warwick in 1969 with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.” That was originally written in 1968 for Bacharach and David’s only original musical Promises, Promises. Before that, Warwick with “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” written by Bacharach and David in 1963.
Dionne Warwick was not the only singer who had an association with the music of Burt Bacharach in the 1960s. Another was singer Aretha Franklin. Now, Bacharach never worked in the studio with Franklin, nor did he write any songs specifically for her, like he did with Warwick.
However, Franklin was a huge admirer of Warwick—after all, Franklin’s backing singers were the group The Sweet Inspirations, a group that Warwick used to be a part of before going solo. And so on more than one occasion, Franklin covered one of Warwick and Bacharach songs, adding her own R&B flair to it. And for some, the later Aretha Franklin versions of these Bacharach tunes are more iconic than the Dionne Warwick originals.
Let’s hear two now. First up, this is Aretha Franklin in 1964 performing the 1963 Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick song “Walk On By,” on Afterglow
MUSIC - ARETHA FRANKLIN, “WALK ON BY”
MUSIC - ARETHA FRANKLIN, “I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER”
Aretha Franklin, with two songs written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and originally performed by Dionne Warwick. Just now, we heard her in 1968 with her hit version of “I Say A Little Prayer,” featuring the Sweet Inspirations (Warwick’s former group) singing background vocals. Before that, in 1964 with “Walk On By,” for her Columbia album Runnin’ Out Of Fools.
By the mid 1960s, Burt Bacharach began lending his songwriting talents to things beyond just the pop charts. He was recruited by Hollywood to start writing songs for films. In 1965, Burt Bacharach wrote the title song for the Michael Caine comedy Alfie, as well as the film What’s New Pussycat?. And in 1967, he wrote the entire score for the “unofficial” Bond film Casino Royale, including the film’s love theme “The Look Of Love.”
Let’s hear a few of those film songs now, performed by jazz singer Nancy Wilson. First, this is Nancy Wilson in 1967 with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Alfie,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - NANCY WILSON, “ALFIE”
MUSIC - NANCY WILSON, “THE LOOK OF LOVE”
Nancy Wilson in 1968 with “The Look Of Love,” written for the 1967 film Casino Royale. Before that, we heard her in 1967 with “Alfie,” written for the 1965 comedy of the same name. Both of those songs were composed by songwriter Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David.
MUSIC CLIP - BURT BACHARACH, "PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY”
We’ll have more of the Burt Bacharach songbook in just a bit. Stay with us.
I’m Mark Chilla, and you’re listening to Afterglow
MUSIC CLIP - QUINCY JONES, "WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT?"
MUSIC CLIP - STAN GETZ, "WALK ON BY”
Welcome back to Afterglow, I’m Mark Chilla. We’ve been exploring the songbook of Burt Bacharach this hour. The songwriter passed away in February at age 94.
Nearly every major jazz-pop singer who was working in the 1960s recorded at least one song by Burt Bacharach: Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, and even Frank Sinatra. However, Old Blue Eyes wasn’t exactly fond of the songwriter. He was in his fifties by the time younger Bacharach started making it big, and by that point, he didn’t care much for Bacharach’s penchant for complicated melodies, complex harmonies, and odd time signatures.
Nevertheless, Sinatra recorded two Bacharach songs in his career, the first one in 1964 on his second album with Count Basie called It Might as Well Be Swing. Their song choice was the 1963 tune “Wives and Lovers,” which had just won a Grammy Award for singer Jack Jones. The lyrics are pretty misogynistic, even by 1960s standards. Although, it is interesting that a song called “Wives and Lovers” connects Sinatra and Bacharach, because the two did have one thing in common: Sinatra’s former lover, the actress Angie Dickinson, later became Bacharach’s wife.
Here’s that song now. This is Frank Sinatra and Count Basie with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Wives and Lovers,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - FRANK SINATRA, “WIVES AND LOVERS”
MUSIC - FRANK SINATRA, “(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU”
Frank Sinatra with two songs by Burt Bacharach. Just now, the song “(They Long To Be) Close To You,” originally written by Bacharach and lyricist Hal David in 1963, although not becoming a hit until it was recorded by the Carpenters in 1970. That comes from Sinatra’s 1971 album Sinatra & Company, arranged by Don Costa. Before that, Sinatra and Count Basie in 1964 with Bacharach and David’s “Wives And Lovers.”
In the 1960s and 1970s, many jazz singers who recorded a version of a Burt Bacharach tune performed it in a style that more closely resembled the pop original by Bacharach, like what we just heard with Sinatra’s version of “(They Long To Be) Close To You.” This is the case for Bacharach tunes recorded around this time by Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald and more. However a few singers pushed Bacharach’s songs in a more authentic jazz direction, to incredible results, if you ask me.
Let’s hear two now. We’ll start with Tony Bennett in 1969. This is his version of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David tune “What The World Needs Now is Love,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, "WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE"
MUSIC - JOHNNY HARTMAN, "RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MY HEAD"
Two jazz versions of Burt Bacharach tunes. Just now, we heard singer Johnny Hartman in 1973 with “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” and before that, Tony Bennett in 1969 with “What The World Needs Now Is Love.”
In more recent years, jazz and pop singers continue to record the music of Burt Bacharach. Jazz singers like Diana Krall and Stacey Kent have recorded an occasional Bacharach tune, and jazz singers like Nicki Parrott and Denise Donatelli have each devoted entire albums to his songbook. One jazz singer with perhaps the most impressive Bacharach pedigree to record an album of Bacharach tunes is Steve Tyrell. Before devoting himself to singing jazz full time, Tyrell was a producer for Scepter Records, the label that produced most of Bacharach’s 1960s hit songs. As a young man, he got to work alongside Bacharach, and even co-produced the original version of the song we just heard, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” with singer B.J. Thomas.
In 2018, Steve Tyrell recorded a tribute album to his mentor called Back To Bacharach, and even featured Burt playing piano on a few tunes, including this next one. This is Steve Tyrell, Burt Bacharach, and the original performer of this song Herb Alpert performing the tune “This Guy’s In Love With You,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - STEVE TYRELL, “THIS GUY’S IN LOVE WITH YOU’
MUSIC - NICKI PARROTT, “THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING THERE TO REMIND ME”
Jazz singer Nicki Parrott with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “There’s Always Something There To Remind Me,” from her Bacharach songbook album from 2017. And before that, jazz singer Steve Tyrell with Bacharach on piano, performing “This Guy’s In Love With You,” from his Bacharach songbook album from 2018.
Burt Bacharach continued to work with lyricist Hal David through the early 1970s. In the early 1980s, he found a new songwriting partner, Carol Bayer Sager, who also became his wife. The two wrote several hits together, including “That’s What Friends Are For,” another hit for singer Dionne Warwick.
In the late 1990s, he found one more significant musical partner in singer Elvis Costello. Costello reignited some of the jazz-influenced harmonies that Bacharach often employed, and their 1998 album Painted From Memory became a critical success. The songs from this album were recorded again in 1999 for the album The Sweetest Punch with even more jazz-oriented arrangements, featuring work by jazz guitarist Bill Frissel and jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson. To close off this hour, let’s hear a track from that album.
This is Cassandra Wilson and Bill Frissel in 1999 performing the Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello song “Painted From Memory,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - CASSANDRA WILSON, “PAINTED FROM MEMORY”
Thanks for tuning in to this edition of Afterglow.
MUSIC CLIP - WES MONTGOMERY, "WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE"
Afterglow is part of the educational mission of Indiana University and produced by WFIU Public Radio in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. The executive producer is John Bailey.
Playlists for this and other Afterglow programs are available on our website. That’s at indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow.
I’m Mark Chilla, and join me next week for our mix of Vocal Jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook, here on Afterglow