Always something there to remind me

Burt Bacharach left the planet the other day, down in L.A., of course. He was 94 years old.

I always loved this guy's music, and still do. To me, he was up there as a songwriter with the Beatles, or Joni Mitchell, or Springsteen, or Brian Wilson, or Richard Rodgers, or Frank Loesser, you name it. He had an excellent lyricist, Hal David, and between the two of them, they blew me away time after time in the late '60s and most of the '70s. More than 30 blockbuster songs, maybe more like 50.

Manfred Mann made money on them. The Beatles covered one of them. The world met Karen Carpenter on them. They lit up Oscar-winning movies. "Raindrops." They made up entire Broadway shows. "Things that I promised myself fell apart, but I found my heart."

And Dionne Warwick, some girl from East Orange, New Jersey with an incredible range – together they staged an enormous run. Whatever they churned out was a guaranteed hit. The streak went on for years.

And the guy kept going well into senior citizenship, working hard for whole albums with Elvis Costello when Burt was way past retirement age. He never stopped.

The Mrs. and I sat close to the stage on his last visit to Portland, this must have been 20 years ago, in the Schnitz with the symphony. It was such a great night.

Somehow, I don't think Burt got quite as much love as he deserved. I get the sense that the old Broadway writers whom he bumped out of prominence didn't like him much. And the hippie rockers wrote him off as elevator music. But Top 40 radio got it, and so did the public, and there was never any denying the man's genius. Miles was fascinated with "Alfie." Aretha covered "I Say a Little Prayer." Even Isaac Hayes got off on "Walk on By." No sense trying to compile the whole list, and no need. Bacharach was special, as was David.

There's a Rhino box with most of the biggies on it. It takes up three CDs.

So long, Burt. Maybe I'll see you again at some point. Until then, I'll be humming what you wrote.


  1. I'm with you, Burt Bacharach was amazing!
    Do You Know The Way to San Jose has been running in a loop in my head all day. #BurtsEarworm

  2. I’m happy when his songs wonder through my mind. Talented, of course. And maybe a genius. Had a social life that was the envy of most bachelors.

  3. A musician friend, commenting on his passing, ranked him with Darius Milhaud and Erik Satie.



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