Hal David, RIP

Hal David was the lyricist in the legendary songwriting partnership with Burt Bacharach. It was a partnership that originated in New York’s Brill Building and achieved sublimity through the voice of Dionne Warwick. David provided evocative lyrics that followed the twists and turns of Bacharach’s sinuous melodies. They made a great team. Today Hal David died in Los Angeles at the age of 91.

The New York Times obituary is here. It only glides over the surface of the story. The AP obituary fills in some of the gaps. The Times obit provides this short course:

“I Say a Little Prayer,” a No. 4 hit in 1967, was the most successful of the three dozen or so singles Mr. David and Mr. Bacharach wrote and produced for Ms. Warwick, whom they met in 1961 when they were journeymen on the New York music-publishing scene and she was a 20-year-old backup singer.

After she sang on some demo recordings of their songs, a disgruntled Ms. Warwick complained to them, “Don’t make me over, man.” Mr. David turned that line into a full lyric, with an unusual (for the time) feminist stance, and Ms. Warwick’s recording of the resulting song, “Don’t Make Me Over,” became her first hit, in early 1963. From then until mid-1971, rarely a month went by when the troika were not represented on the Billboard singles chart, with charismatic hits like “Walk On By,” “Message to Michael,” “Alfie” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”

The video below derives from a 2000 tribute to the David-Bacharach partnership with Warwick on the vocals backed by an orchestra led by Bacharach at the piano and with David making a cameo appearance to join the chorus on “What the World Needs Now.” RIP.


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