THE SATURDAY MORNING SONG CHRONICLES
-- Paul B Allen III: March 7, 2020
This is not the article I was planning on writing, but here we are. This all started because I was reminiscing about the songs of my youth that inspired me. I immediately thought about Chuck Jackson, the first male R&B artist that moved me with his smooth style of singing and that wonderful song he recorded named “Any Day Now.”
Then, I thought about the magnificent Jerry Butler. What a voice: So beautiful and distinctive. The song that he did that touched my soul was “Make It Easy on Yourself.”
It was not until I started to research these songs that I discovered that they were co-written by the same man: Mr. Burt Bacharach. I was stunned.
I knew the many songs that Burt had done with Dionne Warwick. I have always felt that the marriage of her voice with his music was pure magic. Burt accounted for nearly all of Dionne’s early hits. There was “Don’t Make Me Over,” “Wishin’ and Hopin,” “Anyone That Had A Heart,” “Walk On By,” “A House is Not A Home,” “You’ll Never Get To Heaven If You Break My Heart,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Always Something There to Remind Me,” and “Do You Know The Way To San Jose.”
But, Chuck Jackson, and Jerry Butler? Two soul classics that have been a part of my life since the very beginning? OK, so, that made me wonder. Are there other songs I have loved over the years, but never realized they had been written by Burt Bacharach?
I am still shaking my head at what I discovered, and I have to share it with you. There were so many mega-hits and they are so diverse that it boggled my mind. These were songs I grew up listening to and loving. How did I not know that the same man wrote them all? I think you will be as stunned as I was when you see these song titles. Like me, you may have thought that the groups themselves were the composers of many of these songs, but, surprise!
So, here we go.
Shirelles – “Baby, It’s You”
The Carpenters – (“They Long to Be) Close To You”
Dusty Springfield – “The Look of Love”
Herb Alpert – “This Guy’s in Love with You”
The Fifth Dimension – “One Less Bell to Answer”
B.J. Thomas – “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”
Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Gladys Knight – “That’s What Friends Are For”
Jerry Butler – “Make It Easy On Yourself”
Chuck Jackson – “Any Day Now”
And there are so many others.
One thing you may be thinking about now is that some of the songs mentioned were done by other artists. For instance, Aretha Franklin make “Answer My Prayer” her own, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. But Dionne Warwick did it first, and did it well.
Luther Vandross did a number on “A House is not a Home.” No one will ever come close to doing the song in the way that he did. There is a video that shows Luther singing this song as Dionne Warwick watches and listens. You can see that even though she was the first person to sing this song—and she did have a hit with it—she is nearly overwhelmed listening to Luther’s version. It is moving. Watch Dionne (and the rest of the crowd) as he performs it. This is why I will always feel that Luther Vandross was "The Voice" of our lifetime.
But, that’s one of the signs of a great song, isn’t? That others can take it and make it their own and make the song a hit all over again.
That is the kind of songs that Mr. Burt Bacharach writes.
Enjoy these rare videos and the magic of the music of Burt Bacharach. It has graced us forever, even if we didn’t know it until now.
See you next week for another Saturday Morning Song Chronicles.