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CDA: Burt Bacharach

Oh, this one hit me HARD. I got a text from my brother Howard:


Howard: BB RIP

Me: Brigitte Bardot? Barbie Benton? Beastie Boys? Please explain.

Howard: Burt Bacharach


I was in my boss's office when I got that text, I was extracting her from her current meeting to get her on time for her next meeting. I saw the text from Howard and said, "Oh....!"


HER: What?

ME: My brother just told me that Burt Bacharach died.

HER: Yeah, I heard that this morning. 94.

ME: That makes me very sad. I'm a huge Bacharach fan.


And she smirked and chuckled as she walked away! Cracked me up, one of those Magic Moments with my boss.


"Magic Moments" was an early hit for Burt and his most frequent lyricist, Hal David. They wrote it for Perry Como:


The melodic line of the first two words perfectly capture the sweet spot of Como's voice. The sustained note on "Maa..." followed by the pert, clipped release, on a higher note, "...gic." I'm not sure it was a conscious choice on Burt's part to write it that way, but it was sublime.


I've said this before but I have to say it again here (and I'm tearing up again, as I write this): Burt Bacharach is my favorite songwriter of all time. He's probably not a better songwriter than Cole Porter or Rodgers and Hart or the Gershwins or any of those other geniuses of the Great American Songbook, but he is my favorite. As Howard said in a text, "Those songs are a HUGE part of the fabric of our childhood."


In the same way that John Cassavetes would not have done his best work without his amazing interpretive partner, Gena Rowlands - - and Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann are another similar pair - - Bacharach and David would never have done such great work without the partnership of the extraordinary Dionne Warwick. Here's the kittenish Miss Warwick at 24, singing "Walk On By" in a club in Belgium on New Year's Eve, 1964.


Vogue magazine said, when Warwick hit the charts, that her voice was like honey on your finger. There was something cosmic about the chemistry between her, Bacharach, and David. They collaborated on so many priceless songs.


I saw a brilliant Bacharach and David compilation musical off Broadway in 2014, *What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined.* That was an amazing show:



And I'll close off with a hilarious remark about Burt and Angie Dickinson, from a performance by the divine Justin Vivian Bond. “Some people say the 60s ended when the Manson family killed Sharon Tate and those other people. Joan Didion says the 60s ended when she sold the house on Hawthorne. For me, the 60s ended when Burt Bacharach and Angie Dickinson divorced. In 1981.”


Burt was, for me, the spirit of the 60s. At least the kind of 60s I most wish I had been a part of - - groovy, slightly upscale, with a little swagger and lots of charm. Not oblivious to the momentous things happening at the time, but feeling that you still have to have a good time, in spite of it all. Amen. And RIP.

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