Friday, February 10, 2023

(They Long to Be) Close to You

There is probably an entire generation who only knows Burt Bacharach from the first Austin Powers movie. 

Me? From the Carpenters. Yes. I'm showing my age. 

Poor Burt is dead now - at 94!

Is it just me, or are there a lots "celebrities" kicking the bucket these days?

In my head, I made assumptions that Karen & Richard covered a lot of Bacharach and Hal David. They did - and didn't.  The blog post title on their second disk and a medley of multiple songs a few disks later. That's about it. 

Still, even now, it's impossible to escape the legacy that the two songwriters provided multiple generations. He's written for, or with (depending) for Jackie DeShannon, Christopher Cross, Herb Albert, Dusty Springfield, BJ Thomas (hehehe.....BJ) and of course, the Singing Skull Dionne Warwick. 

Many of their songs were covered by the above, but many were written specifically for Warwick herself. I would have bet money they wrote her arguably best song, the theme for the Valley of the Dolls (which is actually the title of the song!), for her, but I'd have lost that bet (Andr√© Previn....go figure!  You know, Soon Yi's adoptive dad........before Woody Allen). 

Still while there were a few notable songs written without David, most of Bacharach's success was a collaboration. 

The duo certainly did define an era - even one that coincided with bands from the Summer of Love. They launched a thousand bands who probably played at every airport Ramada lounge in the U.S.. But the music works. 

I cannot find the clip anywhere, but in Tracey Ullman's first season- back when Fox only had four shows -  she played a lounge singer, who was breaking up with her boyfriend who was the other person in the band, and yes, they played "Close to You".  Tracey's character sang the line, I still use to this day, "on the day that you were born, then angels got together and they threw a bunch of crap in a bag and called it 'Steve'!". 

Still makes me laugh. And Burt probably got a few cents that one time it aired. 

Song by: the Carpenters


wcs said...

And let's not forget his commercial spot with Angie Dickenson... "Say yes, yes, to Martini and Rossi on the rocks. Say yes." I have a bottle in the cabinet. Yes.

Raybeard said...

My memories of him go right back to the early and mid-60s when I was a budding (miserably failing) songwriter myself, and how I despaired at how ANYONE could even think of such harmonies as this young 'upstart' came up with. I was envious as Hell watching and marvelling at him when he appeared as a guest (more than once) on our 'Juke Box Jury' when a panel of four celebrities had to vote on whether certain new releases would be 'hits' or misses'. Yes, I even remember 'Magic Moments' being a hit, though that was a much more conventional song than his later compositions.
No one can deny that his contribution to pop music was phenomenal. His name in history will surely be right up there with the Irving Berlins, Cole Porters.....and even Stephen Sondheims?
RIP, Burt - and thanks!

James Dwight Williamson said...

It’s rare an obituary for someone his age makes me sad- this one does- Warwick has had a rough life -but she had something many today don’t -talent and good material.

Travel said...

What has happened, I rented a car recently and played the radio, and all of the good music, was on the oldies station. Must be something wrong with the radio.