I'm copying and pasting C.I.'s Hal David essay:
Hal David has passed away today. He was 91-years-old and famous for the songs he wrote with Burt Bacharach. The two began writing together in 1957. In Joe Smith's Off The Record: An Oral History of Popular Music (Warner Books, 1988), Burt reflected on starting out as a songwriter:
When I began writing, it seemed everyone was bouncing around. It was almost incestuous. I'd write with Hal David three times a week, and then I'd switch off and write with Bob Hilliard in the morning, and then in the afternoon Bob would write with same composer Hal had just finished with. And on and on like that.
[. . .]
With Hal, of course, it became quite successful. And fun, both of us sitting in a room staring at each other. I'm a very slow writer. I've always been very slow. I can really labor over something. And Hal wasn't exteremly fast either, so we were a good match.
But I must say, that first year it was very hard. A lot of rejections. Playing a song and somebody stopping you after eight bars! I remember going to see Connie Francis, and she lifted the needle of the demo.
At his website, Davis wrote, "I am fortunate to have enjoyed a long-time collaboration with Burt Bacharach. Burt is a man of many talents - a masterful arranger, an outstanding conductor, but first and foremost a brilliant composer. Among songwriters there are many tune writers but just a handful of composers. He is one of the few. "
Their first hit was Marty Robbins' "The Story of My Life" in 1957. Other hits followed but it was in the sixties and early seventies that they really made their mark.
In the US, Dionne Warwick quickly became the premiere interpreter of their songs and first hit with their "Don't Make Me Over" and followed that with countless hits including "Anyone Who Had A Heart," "Walk On By," "I Say a Little Prayer" (which Aretha would take back onto the charts in the 70s), "I'll Never Fall In Love Again," "Do You Know The Way To San Jose," and many more. While Dionne was charting in the US, girl singers in England were hitting with the Bacharach & Davis songs. Cillia Black would turn "Anyone Who Had A Heart" into a major hit in England and Sandy Shaw would do the same with "Always Something There To Remind Me." After Dionne had recorded it as a B-side, Dusty Springfield would take "Wishin' and Hopin'" and it became a worldwide hit (top ten in the US). Dusty would have another huge, worldwide hit when she recorded "The Look Of Love" for the soundtrack of 1967's Casino Royale.
In England, Cillia Black would give the songwriters their first number one with her cover of "Anyone Who Had A Heart"in 1964; however, they wouldn't reach number one in the US until Herb Alpert's first vocal hit (Alpert mainly did instrumentals) "This Guy's In Love With You." That held the number one spot for four weeks begining with the week of June 22, 1968. In 1970, they'd get another song at the top of the charts, again for four weeks, with "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head." B.J. Thomas recorded the song, the theme to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the composition went on to win an Academy Award -- only the second number one hit in the rock era to win an Academy Award (the first was "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing").
At his website, Hal David wrote:
I have heard it said that we have a style of our own. If we do, it is never consciously contrived. Certainly "What the World Needs Now Is Love" and "What's New, Pussycat?" are as far apart as the North Pole and the South Pole. The same thing can be said of "Alfie" and "Wives and Lovers." They are poles apart. The main thing we try to do is find an original approach to whatever song we are writing. Being different just to be different is plain foolishness. We never do that. Anything that takes away from the emotion we are trying to express, we discard. If the song isn't honest you may fool yourself, but you will never fool the public-at least, not for long. If we in truth do have a style it is because, in our search for originality, we have not written to a particular formula. When we achieve the freshness we are looking for, it's a wonderful feeling. Here is one of our more timeless songs, writen in 1965.
And he went on to quote the lyrics to their huge hit "What The World Needs Now Is Love."
Burt told Joe Smith:
People don't always hear the same thing in the same song. A perfect example is the song, "What the World Needs Now Is Love." I didn't believe in that song very much. I wrote it, I guess I must have liked it a little, so I finished it and played it for Dionne -- who didn't love it either. And when she said she didn't love it, then I really didn't love it.
Well, when we were getting ready to cut Jackie DeShannon, Hal said, "Play that song, 'What the World Needs Now Is Love'." Hal's really good like that. He believes in the song.
And then I heard Jackie sing it, and the rest, as they say, is history.
So that's Hal David. Of his songs, my favorite is "What The World Needs Now."
I can remember watching Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice for the first time and hearing the song (already a hit for several years before) at the end and thinking how perfect it was. And having sort of a cynical look at the song.
Then, in the 80s, I remember Nell Carter, on Gimmie' a Break, sitting at the piano and she and all these kids (not just Katie, Samantha and the other one) singing along with her on "What The World Needs Now."
I had a different reaction to it then.
The song's a powerful song that can grab you any number of ways and I think Jackie DeShannon sings it perfectly.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"