The Glittering Life of a Musical Genius; Burt Bacharach

Kendall McElroy

As of Wednesday, February 8th, legendary pop composer Burt Bacarach died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home at the age of 94. Bacharach, one of the most accomplished and prolific composers of the 20th century, managed 52 top 40 hits, and was practically untouchable throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, working with countless idols of pop, R&B, and soul. 

Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin, Carpenters, and Dionne Warwick are only a few of the musical icons Bacharach and his lyricist partner Hal David had worked with. The two had been referred to as the “Rodgers & Hart” of the 60’s and pumped out hits with unique style and flow. Known for their atypical arrangements and melange of stylistic influences from pop and jazz to rock and even Brazilian funk making for instantly memorable melodies. 

Dionne Warwick played a major part in popularizing the pair’s music, furthermore influencing Bacarach to experiment with new harmonies and rhythm based off of Warwick’s unique singing style. This influence can be traced back to innovative hits such as, “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Anyone Who Had a Heart.”

Bacharach also made a successful venture into the world of motion picture songwriting. This fertile period of his career scored him a Hot 100 No. 1 hit with “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” another Hot 100 No. 33 “The Blob,” two Oscars (best score and best theme song) for “Raindrops” from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and another for “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” which was shared between Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Peter Allen, and singer Christopher Cross. 

Burt Bacarach’s music cut across generational lines, resonating with older folks as well as teenagers who can appreciate the Tin Pan Alley energy conveyed through David’s lyricism. The fresh style Bacarach brought keeps listeners off balance and intensely moved, going against conventional composing by implementing uplifting melodies contrasted with melancholic, bittersweet lyrics. 

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