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    David, Hal (25th May 1921–1st September 2012)

    Lyricist from the Big Apple who attended NYU and worked as a reporter for the New York Post before pursuing a career as a songwriter.  In 1943, he joined ASCAP and went on to collaborate with Arthur Altman, Burt Bacharach, John Barry, Sherman Edwards, Redd Evans, Henry Mancini, Lee Pockriss, and Don Rodney.  Bandleaders for whom he wrote included Sammy Kaye and Guy Lombardo.  The latter turned “The Four Winds and the Seven Seas” into Hal’s first hit. 

     

    Hal met Burt in 1957 at the Brill Building, where they both worked.  They were teamed up by Eddie Wolpin, whose instincts were spot-on.  Before the end of the year, the first Bacharach-David composition was on the chart.  Marty Robbins took “The Story of My Life” to the top of the country chart and #15 on the pop chart.  It was quickly followed up by Perry Como’s recording of “Magic Moments”, which cracked the top thirty.  Jane Morgan reached #39 “With Open Arms”. 

     

    Other recordings featuring Hal’s words from this time period include “And This is Mine” by Connie Stevens, “Broken-Hearted Melody” by Sarah Vaughan, and “Johnny Get Angry” by Joannie Sommers.  “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance” by Gene Pitney shot to #4 in May 1962.  “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” was originally recorded by Tommy Hunt and reached a modest #119.  “Forgive Me (For Giving You Such a Bad Time” by Babs Tino fared a little better, at #117.  Gene Pitney got the songwriting duo back in the top five with “Only Love Can Break a Heart”. 

     

    Their songs enjoyed variegated levels of success in 1963:  “Anonymous Phone Call” by Bobby Vee remained anonymous at #110, whereas “Blue on Blue” by Bobby Vee blew to #3.  In between, you had Gene Pitney charting at #17 and #21 with “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa” and “True Love Never Runs Smooth”, respectively.  Jack Jones staked out the #14 spot with “Wives and Lovers”, while Lou Johnson’s “Reach out for Me” only reached #74.  Richard Chamberlain, of all people, was the first to record “(They Long to Be) Close to You”, and it was a B side, no less. 

     

    Dionne Warwick would provide Burt and Hal with more consistent results beginning in January 1964, when “Anyone Who Had a Heart” peaked at #8, giving the songstress her first taste of the top ten.  Cilla Black’s version fared even better, topping the charts in the U.K.  Wishin’ and Hopin’” returned the songwriting team to the top ten, thanks to Dusty Springfield’s sprightly recording of it.  Her rendition of “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” also reached the charts in Great Britain.  Dionne hit #20 and #34 stateside with “Reach out for Me” and “You’ll Never Get to Heaven (if You Break My Heart)”, respectively. 

     

    “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” was first recorded by Lou Johnson and reached a modest #49.  Sandi Shaw’s version only managed #51 in the States but topped the charts in the U.K.  “Message to Martha” endured a couple of name changes:  The original (again by Johnson) was entitled “Kentucky Bluebird” and alighted at #104.  Jerry Butler’s rendition was titled “Message to Martha” and later Dionne would record it as “Message to Michael”, although Hal loathed the gender-bending. 

     

    More trans-Atlantic success followed as “Trains and Boats and Planes” by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas reached both sides of the pond, travelling to #12 in the U.K. and #47 in the States.  In addition, Burt and Hal had been tapped to write the music for the Peter O’Toole-Peter Sellers comedy, What’s New, Pussycat?.  The frisky title tune became a #3 hit for Tom Jones.  Dionne announced herself at #45 with “Here I Am”.  Manfred Mann did not do as well with “My Little Red Book”, which sputtered to #124.  Love remade the song into a #52 hit, although Burt and Hal didn’t like their rendition. 

     

    Dionne continued to chart with “Are You There (with Another Girl)” and “Looking with My Eyes”, with the former reaching #64 and the latter rallying to the top forty.  She returned to the top ten with the aforementioned “Message to Michael”.  Its follow-up, “Another Night”, only managed #49. 

     

    The year of 1966 was dotted with major and minor hits:  The title track from Alfie was recorded by Cilla Black and Cher; Cilla’s version cracked the top ten in the U.K. and Cher’s reached #32 in the States.  Jackie DeShannon hit #83 with “Come and Get Me” and #108 with “Windows and Doors”.  Tom Jones hit #74 with “Promise Her Anything” and Trini Lopez loped to #113 with “Made in Paris”.  The James Bond spoof Casino Royale spawned a couple of hits:  Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass reached the top thirty with the title track and Dusty Springfield did the same with “The Look of Love”. 

     

    Dionne returned Burt and Hal to the top five with her version of “I Say a Little Prayer”.  She proved to be a double-threat when “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” found its way to #10 and the B side, “Let Me Be Lonely”, also charted.  Burt’s and Hal’s first #1 record came from an unlikely source when Herb Alpert topped the charts with “This Guy’s in Love with You”.  Aretha Franklin returned “I Say a Little Prayer” to the top ten in August 1967.  The same month found Dionne charting with both sides of another 45:  Her rendition of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” went to #65 and its A side, “Who is Gonna Love Me”, went into the top forty. 

     

    Burt and Hal took their act to Broadway in 1968 with Promises, Promises, and it was a huge smash, running from the end of 1968 to the beginning of 1972.  The soundtrack won a Grammy Award and Dionne scored a top-twenty hit with the title tune.  Another title track, “The April Fools” enjoyed a brief foray into the top forty.  Isaac Hayes and Engelbert Humperdinck had similar success with “Walk on By” and “I’m a Better Man”, respectively. 

     

    Burt and Hal were an unlikely choice to score the Paul Newman-Robert Redford western, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Nevertheless, the centerpiece of the film’s score, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, became a #1 hit for B.J. Thomas and won an Oscar for Best Song.  The 1960s ended, fittingly, with Dionne in the top ten with her rendition of “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”, from Promises, Promises. 

     

    R.B. Greaves opened the 1970s by hitting the top thirty with his rendition of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me)”.  B.J. Thomas did the same with “Everybody’s out of Town”.  Dionne barely missed the top thirty with “Let Me Go to Him”. 

     

    It was The Carpenters who returned the songwriting tandem to the top of the charts with their version of “(They Long to Be) Close to You”.  The song was intended for Herb Alpert, but he passed it to the brother-sister duo, as they had just inked a deal with Herb’s A&M label.  Hal wasn’t nuts about the song but it stayed atop the charts for about a month.  It would be Burt’s and Hal’s biggest hit of 1970, although The Fifth Dimension nearly repeated its success with “One Less Bell to Answer” but were shut out by George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”. 

     

    Dionne continued to keep the charts occupied by Bacharach-David efforts:  Her remake of “Make it Easy on Yourself” made it to #37; “Paper Mache” stuck at #43; and, “The Green Grass Starts to Grow” took root at #43.  To cap the year off, Johnny Mathis released a Burt tribute album simply titled Johnny Mathis Sings the Music of Bacharach & Kaempfert. 

     

    In 1971, Burt and Hal found it increasingly difficult to hit the top fifty, let alone the top forty.  Their biggest hit of the year was Dionne’s recording of “Who Gets the Guy”, which got as high at #57.  B.J. Thomas took “Long Ago Tomorrow” all the way to #61.  Isaac Hayes’ remake of “The Look of Love” barely got a look at the top eighty.  In 1972, Hal was enshrined in The Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

     

    Hollywood beckoned again and Burt and Hal were hired to score the ill-fated musical version of Lost Horizon.  The project was, by all accounts, a disaster.  In spite of this, two songs survived to make their mark on Billboard:  The title track went to #63 and The Fifth Dimension enjoyed a top-forty hit with “Living Together, Growing Together”. 

     

    Burt, Dionne and Hal were growing apart, however.  The dismal failure of Lost Horizon somehow led to the three of them sitting in court together, instead.  Dionne sued Burt and Hal.  Hal sued Burt.  Burt sued Hal.  It was a bitter and nasty divorce and the three went their separate ways. 

     

    Hal went on to pen “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, which became a huge hit for Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson.  On the strength of this and his impressive back catalogue, he was enshrined in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.  In November of the same year, Andre DeShield’s Haarlem Nocturne enjoyed a brief run on Broadway, with lyrics by Hal. 

     

    Burt, Dionne, and Hal reunited in 1993, with Burt and Hal writing “Sunny Weather Lover” for Dionne’s CD, Friends Can Be Lovers.  Burt and Hal also penned “You’ve Got it All Wrong” for the revival of Promises, Promises, on The Great White Way. 

     

    Hal seemingly received every accolade one can in songwriting circles, from honorary degrees to board chairmanships to an Ivor Novello Award, becoming the first non-British citizen to win the prize.  His lyrics have been immortalized in Bartlett’s Famous Quotations, the Grammy Hall of Fame, and the songbook, What the World Needs Now and Other Love Lyrics. 

     

    Burt’s and Hal’s songs have even been adapted for a ballet entitled Love Songs, a production mounted by the Joffrey Ballet that includes “Make it Easy on Yourself” and “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me”. 

     

    In September 2012, when he was 91, he passed away after having suffered a stroke.

     

    Dusty Springfield recordings

    Wishin’ and Hopin (Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

     

    Sources:

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_David
    2. http://www.haldavid.com/
    3. http://www.haldavid.com/biography.htm
    4. http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=12841
    5. http://www.haldavid.com/awards.htm
    6. http://www.haldavid.com/words.htm
    7. http://www.bacharachonline.com/bacharach_articles/discoveries.html

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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