Most of you are familiar with the work of legendary composer Burt Bacharach even if you don’t know who he was. If you grew up in the 20th century, you’ve heard and remember his music. His music is a reminder of the times of our lives – our memories. You heard his music from an AM radio in your first car. You danced to his music at your senior prom. Walking the mall – you hummed to his work. Burt Bacharach’s music touched our lives every way imaginable.
The birthplace of such great American pop music has passed at age 94. Few lived a fuller, richer life than Burt Bacharach. You would need a sizable spreadsheet to document his work and the many performers who brought it to life. I figure his music is on the air at any moment throughout a given day around the world. His music will continue to be heard for generations.
Burt Bacharach was born to our world in Kansas City, Missouri May 12, 1928 deep in the American heartland. It wasn’t long before a very young Bacharach found himself in New York City. His mother, Irma Freeman, an artist and songwriter, encouraged him to pursue his God-given talent at a very early age. His father, Bert Bacharach, was a newspaper columnist who took a job in New York.
The younger Bacharach never missed his mother’s message. He learned his craft at the Mannes School of Music, McGill University, The New School for Social Research, and the Music Academy of the West. He was highly educated at what he loved most. He also served in our armed forces where he never missed a beat. He mixed his military duties with his intense love of music.
Bacharach worked closely with composer Hal David. Together they created the music of our memories – “Don’t Make Me Over,” “Reach Out for Me,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?,” “You’ll Never Get to Heaven,” “Walk on By,” “Trains and Boats and Planes,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “What The World Needs Now,” “Here I am,” and goodness knows a host of others that escape me – yet trigger our personal memories. You can’t think of Bacharach’s work without thinking of Dionne’s Warwick who put his music to voice and words. She did this so many times, further enhancing our memories.
I supposed it can be considered ironic Bacharach wanted to be a sports athlete. Imagine if he had pursued sports instead of music and how different our lives might have been by not growing up with his music.
It was difficult to learn of the passing of Burt Bacharach. Burt Bacharach has been us and we have been Burt Bacharach for decades. Personally, I remember him most from my youth – Teen Club on Friday nights in high school, cruising the drag in my hometown, listening to his pop tunes at the retail clothing store where I worked at the mall, enjoying a much-anticipated hot date on a warm summer night, and sitting in the living room with my mom at dusk absorbed in Bacharach’s talent gazing at the stereo’s red pilot light and softly illuminated dial.
It can be safely said Bacharach has made great contributions to the world of music and the memories we hold dear. As we bid farewell to a great American composer and musician – I will sign off by saying what the world needs now is more Bacharach.
3 thoughts on “The Life and Music of Burt Bacharach”
For now 2/3 of my holy trinity…McCartney, Dylan, and Bacharach…are still here.
You didn’t grow up with a few piano lessons and not know Burt. I wanted to be a Burt Bacharach\Keith Emerson hybrid when I grew up. AS it turns out they already had those gigs, but in my capacity for years as a product specialist\manager\clinician and artist relations manager for keyboard products they were conversations I had. You would think they were at opposite ends of the spectrum, but both were stiff necked perfectionists. Burt’s “Never be afraid of something you can whistle” approach on top of crazy syncopation and wonderful chords may have sounded simple, but that was his art. Simple ain’t never as easy as it sounds. From “San Jose” to “A Little Prayer”. Proof positive it’s not as easy as it looks or sounds, check this out. Burt and Herb, both playing on a tune neither could sing for sh*t, arranged and produced by Bacharach. If it really was as easy as it sounds everybody could do it…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlDvXYE564o
Hey Phil – I get Bacharach’s demeanor. He and Herb – neither a singer – but both genius – perfectionists. John Williams….OMG!!! Worked it and worked it and worked it until he got it almost right… A very humble frustrated man. Burt was the same way. His energy – explosive. I love music. Used to play trumpet. My son Jacob – a musician who is crazy about the subject. So much to talk about and no room. =)
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