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Walk on By

(Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

This song had the music written by Burt Bacharach and the lyrics by Hal David which was about a woman telling her ex-lover to leave her alone and just keep on going if he encountered her on the street.

It was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick in December 1963 when she also recorded her chart hit “Anyone Who Had a Heart”.  It was the first time that Burt Bacharach had used two grand pianos on a recording.

Dionne’s recording of the song was released as a follow up to “Anyone Who Had a Heart” in April 1964 when it was the B-side of her “Any Old Time of Day”.   Thanks to it being played on the radio by the New York DJ  Murray the K more than the A-side it brought her further success when it reached No. 1 on the Cashbox R&B Chart, No, 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart.  This version of the song has since been recognised in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time with the position of No. 70.  She also recorded the song in German where it went by the title of “GehVorbei”.

The following year it was covered by Bobby Kris & The Imperials who were based in Toronto and at the beginning of 1966 it became a No. 8 hit on the Canadian chart which would turn out to be their only major hit record.

Just another three years later the musician Isaac Hayes completely revised the song into a funk version for his Hot Buttered Soul and the result was a 12.5 minute piece of music.  It was shortened was reduced to around 5 minutes so it could be issued as a single and reached No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969.

Nine years later in the UK the punk group The Stranglers decided to put their own spin on it and once again it saw success when they took it to No. 21 in the 1978 UK Singles Chart.

Into the 1980s and it was as popular as ever and D-Train recorded it as a dance song in 1982 which reached chart positions in the 40s in the US and the UK.  The following year Jo Jo Zep recorded it in an electronic version and took it to No. 6 in New Zealand although just scratching the Australian chart at No. 55.

Continuing to be covered in the 1990s it was recorded by Sybil in 1990 who had previously had a hit with “Don’t Make Me Over” which was also a hit for Dionne Warwick.  This version became a No. 3 hit on the US R&B chart and a No. 8 hit in the UK.  Seven years later it became a No. 7 hit for Gabrielle in the UK.

Still regularly recorded in the new millennium Cyndi Lauper released her version in 2003 which went to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Club Dance Play chart and Seal issued his version in 2005 which became a minor hit in several European countries.

Over the decades the song has been recorded by countless other artists and included on several albums.  Some of these artists include Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Alan Price, The Average White Band, The Beach Boys, Kiki Dee, The Four Seasons, Connie Francis, Gloria Gaynor, Ronan Keating, Kool & The Gang, Diana Krall, Melissa Manchester, Johnny Mathis, The Miracles, Laura Nyro, Helen Shapiro, Mel Torme and The Undisputed Truth.