Although he worked with other writers, first writing for US bandleaders Guy Lombardo and Sammy Kaye in the 1940’s, it is for his work with Burt Bacharach that Hal David will be best remembered,
The pair first met when they were working at the famous Brill Building in New York in 1957. Their first hit, in the year that they met, was The Story of My Life, which was a hit for Marty Robbins. Their partnership got off to a fast start as they also wrote another hit in 1957 with Perry Como’s song Magic Moments which was the singer’s biggest UK hit.
The duos biggest successes were seen during the 1960’s when they had a huge number of hits, many of them sung by Dionne Warwick but also had their songs recorded by many other artists including Tom Jones, The Carpenters, Gene Pitney, Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black and Jackie DeShannon.
Bacharach and David are best known for their songs of love and heartbreak and Hal David’s concise and poetic lyrics were as well-respected as the memorable tunes created by his partner. He was always looking out for inspiration and when Bacharach and David first met Dionne Warwick in 1961 after she sang on some of their demo recordings she said to them “don’t make me over, man.” As many of you will no doubt recognise this was to be turned into the song “Don’t Make Me Over” which became a big hit for Warwick and was later one of a number of Bacharach and David compositions to be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
A full list of Bacharach and David classics would go on for a long time but here is a small selection of some of their classic hits:
- What The World Needs Now Is Love
- This Guy’s In Love With You
- Do You Know The Way To San Jose
- I Say A Little Prayer
- Anyone Who Had A Heart
- Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head
- Walk On By
- Don’t Make Me Over
- Trains And Boats And Planes
- A House Is Not A Home
- What’s New Pussycat
- (They Long To Be) Close To You
- I’ll Never Fall In Love Again
For anyone writing song lyrics and looking for inspiration it would be hard to find a better person to study than Hal David. The secret to writing great song lyrics in Hal David’s own words is: “Try and tell a narrative. The songs should be like a little film, told in three or four minutes. Try to say things as simply as possible, which is probably the most difficult thing to do.”
Take a look at the Jackie DeShannon version of Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s song “What The World Needs Now.” If you have not heard of DeShannon before this is easily her biggest hit.She was romantically linked with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page in the 1960’s and has been married to singer/songwriter Randy Edelman since 1977.Hope you enjoy the cheesy 60’s tv setting.