Music By Turner: 'What the World Needs Now' is to remember Hal David

Songwriter Hal David, who with Burt Bacharach penned dozens of top 40 hits in the 1960s and beyond, died Sept. 1.

Gee, I have been a little bit out of the loop the last few weeks. Anything interesting going on in the local music and politics scene?


Yes, I have had my hands full (pun intended) from “A … to Z,” but I guess it could have been worse. At least Butch Patrick, the actor who played “Eddie Munster” in the ’60s series The Munsters hasn’t sued me for defamation of character … yet.

But I do greatly appreciate the overwhelming comments and e-mails from so many readers who want to have “Augusta” in our University’s name. Made me feel good!


BLUE ON BLUE DEPT. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the composer’s credit “Bacharach-David” on a record. My sister Karen had won in a contest on radio station WBBQ-AM an early Dionne Warwick album, Anyone Who Had a Heart.

Karen played that album so much that she practically wore the grooves off of it, and as a young, nerdy 10-year-old kid I would look at the cover and wonder who these two guys were that wrote almost all of Warwick’s songs.

Maybe it’s one of those “left-brain-right-brain” things, but other brilliant and successful musicians such as Elton John and George Gershwin couldn’t write lyrics. Burt Bacharach’s clever and captivating melodies would have never been as successful without the great Hal David’s lyrics to accompany them.

David, 91, died Sept. 1 after a stroke. Musically connected at the hip with writing partner Bacharach, they are regarded as two of the world’s finest contemporary composers.

Warwick’s sweet-as-local-honey voice was the ideal vehicle for Bacharach and David’s songs. The vast majority of her hits featured David’s stories of love and heartbreak. Don’t Make Me Over, Walk On By, I Say a Little Prayer, and Do You Know the Way to San Jose were just a few in which three collaborated. All were major successes.

Bacharach and David had quite a few hits with other artists too. Who can forget the ominous The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance that Gene Pitney took to No. 4 in 1962?

The incredible Dusty Springfield scored with two of their songs: Wishin’ and Hopin’ and The Look of Love were both top 10 records for the English songstress.

The summer of ’65 would never have been the same without Bacharach and David’s What’s New Pussycat that Tom Jones recorded for the movie of the same name. “You and your pussycat nose” indeed!

Other classic hit records that feature the Bacharach-and-David stamp of greatness include Alfie (Cilla Black), This Guy’s in Love with You (Herb Alpert), Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (B.J. Thomas) and the Fifth Dimension smash One Less Bell to Answer.

(They Long to Be) Close to You, the Carpenters first top-10er, was a Bacharach-and-David cover that they had heard on an early Warwick album five years after she recorded it. Dionne never released it as a single so the Carpenters did!

One major hit in which David wrote the lyrics without a Bacharach melody has a local connection. Archie Jordan, now an Aiken-area resident, co-wrote with David the unforgettable No. 1 country hit It Was Almost Like a Song in 1977 for Ronnie Milsap. It remains one of Milsap’s most renowned tunes.

Curiously, David’s death comes at the heels of the Republican National Convention and at the beginning of the Democrats’ wing-ding in Charlotte. Of course, we all know better than to hope for either party to embrace perhaps David’s most profound lyric “What the World Needs Now” as it seems that’s not the cut of either party’s cloth. As usual, that would be more “Promises, Promises” that we know can never be kept.

Thanks, Hal David, for all of the very kind words.