Burt Bacharach

Signed with A&M Records in early 1967 to a recording and producing contract.

Bacharach told Newsweek, "To get the emotion, it has to be generated by somebody. I'm not trying to prove anything as a conductor. Or as a pianist. Technically, I'm probably rotten at both. But it's heart felt, it's honest. I've got a feeling, you know; I'm not just beating time.... What I hear is pure melody, no beat. I never write at the piano. You want to get free of your hands--they'll go the familiar, trap you in the pretty chords. I never orchestrate at the piano except to check. The better pianist you are the easier you're trapped....I've never deliberately set out to break any [songwriting]rules. I look back at songs and wish I could have simplified them. It's not done to be clever. You've got less than two minutes in a song and you want every second to count. Forget rules. Just listen and feel....I get a greater kick out of making the record. You can have a hell of a song and have it spoiled by a bad arrangement or production. Because of the competition today and the enormous influence of the record industry, you need the right showcase for a song." On orchestration he said, "It's a question of what you hear. What's going to fit, in the rhythm section on the second and fourth beat--not how can you show everybody what great orchestrations you write. It's a goddam crossword puzzle and what I keep is what I think will help the song and free the singer. Of course, if the song isn't there, you're not going to disguise it with beautiful strings."

"The songs that came in for [the Ames Brothers] were so deceptively simple...that I thought, "Geez, I ought to be able to write four or five of these a day...Well, I went a year without getting anything published. What I learned, of course, was that it was not so simple. In fact, it's the hardest thing in the world to write a simple melody that's fresh and doesn't sound stolen."

"You never know what is going to happen when a song of yours is recorded. The feeling can be terrific, especially if somebody is whistling one of my songs and they don't know you're standing nearby. That's the greatest."

Newsweek reported that the sheet music for "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" sold almost one million copies. In 1970, a big seller would move 150,000 copies. Bacharach recalled the original single of "Raindrops" because he felt the beginning was too fast. "For me, if it's off a per cent and a half, that looms large. It's my life." When asked about concerts, he said, "We're exposed, naked, like in a fishbowl. The music can be damned difficult but you can't stop as if it were a studio. It's a competition, with one chance to worn, and what you win is the live audience, to make them really listen and care about the music."

While he was an A&M artist, Burt Bacharach wrote the score for the Broadway show "Promises Promises" which was nominated for eight Tony Awards in 1969.

The album Make It Easy on Yourself peaked at #19 on the Billboard Best Selling Jazz Album chart on August 23, 1969. The album was on the chart for three weeks.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was A&M Records first soundtrack and its first Academy Award winning recording.

A&M Records mounted one of its largest ad campaigns to date for the self-titled album. It included full-page ads in large metropolitan television guides plus Time, New York Magazine, and trade ads. Distributors were given special ad mats, radio spots, promotion kit and piece. Sunset Strip had a 48' x 14' billboard.

Burt Bacharach's self-titled 1971 A&M album peaked at #18 on the Billboard album chart and was the highest charting album of his career.

The ABC Movie of the Week (1969-1974) adapted Burt Bacharach's song "Nikki" as its theme song after the producer heard it on A&M's Burt Bacharach album.

"All Kinds of People" from the Burt Bacharach album was used for the annual United Way campaign in 1972.

"With computers, you can find a great four-bar phrase you stumbled on and then quantify it so the rhythm is 100-percent perfect and paste that in 16 other places so you don't have to play it 16 times--and it can be the identical thing, almost a hypnotic thing. But peel it all back and there isn't a melody, just a lot of richness of sound."

"Part of me always questioned me. Whether I'm so good. Have I been derivative?"

"[The album "Woman"] has spontaneity and vitality. It was a great challenge and the result is hard to peg. It isn't classical, although it leans that way. It covers a wide range of feelings. I've always strived to change. It's never been a deliberate thing, I just follow my natural flow. This is something I've always wanted to do."

The recording of Woman "was a carefully structured master plan. We had no perspective in rehearsal. We spent two hours and 40 minutes of actual recording time for the album. It was a bit like Russian roulette. There was no tomorrow. It had to be done right this one time."

 

What the World Needs Now: Burt Bacharach Classics liner notes

What the World Needs Now: Burt Bacharach Classics press release

Sources
  1. Burt Bacharach Is Music's Man for the '70s. Hubert Saal. Newsweek, June 22, 1970.
  2. A&M Bacharach Drive on New Album, Video Special. Cash Box, February 13, 1971.
  3. 'Pigeonholed,' Says Bacharach of Image. Ellis Widner. Billboard, September 11, 1979.
  4. Burt Bacharach: Cool Again. Amy M. Spindler. New York Times, July 31, 1997.
  5. Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music. Joe Smith. New York: Warner Books. 1988.

Official autobiography: Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music

Birth
Recording Years / Label
1967-1979 -  A&M Records
Instruments
vocals, piano
See associated acts:
Burt Bacharach & Hal David