OMA Life Changer: Burt Bacharach

OMA Life Changer: Burt Bacharach -- Spotify Playlist

Burt Bacharach writes really good songs. When I think of my favorite Bacharach tunes, they aren't particularly groundbreaking. I wouldn't think Close To You pushed the edges of its genre when it was released; it is, however, excellently crafted.

Over the years, as I explored his compositions, I grew more and more impressed with Bacharach as a craftsperson: he consistently makes very good[1] songs.


My love for Burt Bacharach became unassailable after experiencing the sheet music for "Alfie".

Most of the recorded versions of "Alfie" that I've heard don't do the composition justice. In fact, I didn't particularly like "Alfie" until I sat down and plunked my way through the song at a piano. That's when I realized the composition was magical.

With a lot of songs the magic is in the performance, or the orchestration, or the production. With "Alfie", the magic is on the paper. Even now, when I play through it I'm surprised at how good it sounds.

The performance of "Alfie" I recommend the most is one by the man himself, Burt Bacharach, playing it live in Sydney. When the song has space to breath and the composition is allowed to speak for itself, "Alfie" shines.

A House Is Not A Home (and other hits of the 60s/80s)

I was shocked when I found out "A House Is Not A Home" was a song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

(Now... for all intents and purposes it's not a Bacharach song: it will always and forever be a Luther Vandross song, and that's just the way that is.)

I think it illustrates Bacharach's strength as a composer and Hal David's strength as a lyricst that they'd be the songwriters behind 80s hits like "A House Is Not A Home", "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me", and "Don't Make Me Over." Consider the following:

The original was released in 1964.

The original was released in 1962 and was performed by Dionne Warwick.

  • "A House Is Not a Home" was originally released in 1964, also performed by Dionne Warwick.

Luther's version is from 1981.

Most songs don't ever work; it's impressive to write a pop song that works in its own era, and also 20 years later.

Close To You, and all the rest

What really began my love for Burt Bacharach was seeing his name on such a random assortment of very good songs.

And then I found him telling me what the world needs now and what exactly friends are for. His name is attached to so many good songs, and the surprises just don't end.[1:2]

Four More Things

One and Two: You should listen to these two songs. They may not be his more popular tunes these days, but damn they're well written songs.

Three: I know what a flugelhorn is because of Burt Bacharach.

Fourth and finally: watch this performance of Burt Bacharach and Barbra Streisand singing "Close To You" and fall in love.

  1. I stumbled into this Roberta Flack song that he wrote, while doing some final edits for this post. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎