The genius behind pop

Burt Bacharach is celebrated in a Granada special

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From the TVTimes for week commencing 10 April 1965

BURT BACHARACH… the name is almost certain to mean nothing to you. Yet I’ll wager his works have been buzzing around in your brain for the last 10 years.

Bacharach is one of the most talented and prolific songwriters of our time. A few hawk-eyed pop pickers may have spotted the name in fine print on the label of their latest record.

But outside Tin Pan Alley, few recognise this 34-year-old New Yorker for what he is — one of the greatest one-man influences on popular music this century. He is hailed by international artists, musicians and composers as a trend-setting genius.

On Wednesday night at 9.40, Dionne Warwick — Burt writes all her numbers — heads a star-studded cast who pay tribute to America’s Mr. Pop in The Bacharach Sound.

Bacharach “winners” include “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “I Just Don’t Know What to do with Myself,” “Message to Martha,” “Tower of Strength,” “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa,” and dozens more.

There to sing them with Dionne Warwick will be Dusty Springfield, Chuck Jackson, The Searchers and The Merseybeats.

Two men behind a desk
Burt Bacharach (at the mike) and lyrics writer Hal David

Bacharach, who began to learn piano at 10 (“I hated it, I wanted to be a baseball player”) wrote his first hit number “Magic Moments” for Perry Como, in the mid fifties.

He wrote the “Story of My Life,” for Michael Holliday, and never looked back. Four years ago he teamed up with lyrics writer Hal David.

But it was not until early last year that the Bacharach Sound was born — a lush sound created with an exciting orchestral backing like 15 strings, a drummer plus two percussionists, and brassy French horns.

Immediately arrangers, composers and singers rushed to copy him. Artists such as Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black and Sandie Shaw have been deeply influenced by Bacharach.

From his luxury suite on the 18th floor of a New York apartment block, Bacharach told me: “If I have helped to make pop music a little better I couldn’t be more delighted.”

I asked him if he thought today’s pop was worth preserving. “No,” he said, “the average song is so very fragile — 2½ minutes long — it is exposed to saturation. I don’t think any of my numbers will survive the next three years.”

There’s a legend in the music business that Marlene Dietrich won’t work without Bacharach. “Not strictly true,” said Burt modestly. “But whenever I can, I fly to her anywhere in the world. We work well together.”

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