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Burt Bacharach, songwriter and composer, 1928-2023

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“It’s a three-and-a-half-minute short form, so everything matters. You can get away with murder in a 40-minute piece, but you can’t in three and a half minutes,” Burt Bacharach said of the pop song. With an obsession with music and supreme melodicism, the composer turned each note cluster into a series of ‘magic moments’, aiming to make every bar count. Their success in the 1960s and into his early 70s established Bacharach, who died at the age of 94, as a giant of his popular song.

Their classics range from the breezy gaiety of “What’s New Pussycat?” The Oscar-winning standard “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “Alfie”, Bacharach’s favorite songs. His ability to turn a three-minute song into a “miniature movie,” as he puts it, is the claustrophobic feeling of a small room filled with cigarette smoke, with a battered upright, his piano, and no windows. It was trained in the setting of disease. Lower Midtown Manhattan street. It was in his 11-story Song Factory, the Brill Building, where a team of professional songwriters churned out material for his record label.

The cigarette smoke was generated by David, who was commuting from the couple’s home on Long Island. Meanwhile, handsome and charming Bacharach, who is seven years younger than her, lived what was then called the bachelorette life in her East Her Side apartment. He eventually counted four marriages in his long life, including a glamorous marriage to actress Angie Dickinson in the 1960s. ’” commented his fellow tunesmith Sammy Cahn bitterly.

Burt Bacharach put together a series of clusters of notes into a series of “Magic Moments,” the title of his first hit with lyric partner Hal David © Bettmann/Getty Images

Born in 1928, he grew up in Forest Hills, New York. he was a lonely child. He knew he was Jewish because “all the kids I knew were Catholic.” His father is a newspaper columnist. Initially obsessed with sports, Bacharach was encouraged to take up piano by his mother, an amateur songwriter. He was to formally study music under modernist composers such as Darius Milhaud, and was encouraged to trust his instincts for melody.

In 1956, he was hired as arranger, conductor and accompanist for Marlene Dietrich. The German star doted on him. When I met David and started writing with him, he was working for her, “Magic Moments”, sung by Perry Como, reached number one in the UK in 1958. But the true fruit of their partnership was when Bacharach, under the tutelage of fellow Brill his building his writer Jerry, hip Lieber, said, “Chi Chi, East Side, Red He’s the carpet.” It came after I stopped writing what I called “type songs”.

with something like “make yourself comfortable”, First hit by R&B singer Jerry Butler in 1962, Bacharach learned to incorporate the sound of Black American pop into its orchestration. Seemingly telepathically attuned to each other, lyrical ideas inspired new melodic phrases and vice versa. “She had pigtails and dirty white sneakers,” he said of his first meeting with the versatile young singer in 1961. “And she just shone.”

1964 Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick record the song at Pie Studios in London

Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick record the song at Pie Studios in London in 1964. Warwick’s chart successes included “Walk On By” © Bela Zola/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

A string of chart successes with Warwick include “Walk on By”, “Do You Know the Way to San José” and “The Windows of the World”. Other vocalists also had many hits, such as Dusty Springfield’s version. “I don’t know what to do with myself” And ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ by Aretha Franklin. A bridge to the golden age of Tin Pan Alley and Rogers and Hammerstein, Bacharach and David opened a new chapter in The Great American Songbook in the era of the Beatles and Motown. Bacharach’s biggest regret was his controversial split with David in 1973.

In later years he was misunderstood for easy listening, but there was nothing simple about his music, which he obsessively tinkered with in the recording studio. “He writes in the size of his hat. Seven and his three quarters,” Frank said of his Sinatra, an extraordinary time the composer managed to fit into his three-minute gem. talks about changes in

Bacharach took a huge amount of work into his life as well, at the expense of his marriage. A mind and generous collaborator, he continued to write and perform songs well into his old age. He left behind an enormous body of work, a constant testament to the multitude of things his songs at their best pop can fit into their short spans.

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