Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I just returned from a weekend at Lake Tahoe, where I saw the Burt Bacharach show at the Nugget. Outside was a blizzard, but inside was a great show.

I was amazed by how many different hit songs Burt wrote: Pop, Country, Soul, and all types of music. It seems Burt did it all.

Sticking with songs everyone knows —Top 40 hits, for example — how many did Burt write, and which performers made them popular?
—Maxine Blaze, Sacramento, Calif.

DEAR MAXINE: After reading this, you may be even more impressed with Burt Bacharach's impact on the last 50 years of popular music.

Though Burt can sing, as those attending his concerts know, his forte is the melody. Most of his hits are collaborations between he and a lyricist — usually Hal David — but recorded by other artists.

Though they first teamed in 1956, the debut Top 40 Bacharach-David hit came along in late '57: “The Story of My Life,” by Marty Robbins.

Call it a prophetical beginning, as “The Story of My Life” began the story of his life: having hit songs in rapid-fire succession.

That you requested only Top 40 singles is a good thing since there are ONLY 68 of them:

1957: “The Story of My Life” (Marty Robbins).

1958: “Magic Moments” (Perry Como); “(Theme from) The Blob” (Five Blobs).

1959: “With Open Arms” (Jane Morgan).

1961: “Please Stay” (Drifters); “Tower of Strength” (Gene McDaniels); “Baby It's You” (Shirelles).

1962: “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance” (Gene Pitney); “Any Day Now” (Chuck Jackson); “Make It Easy on Yourself” (Jerry Butler); “Only Love Can Break a Heart” (Gene Pitney); “Don't You Believe It” (Andy Williams); “Don't Make Me Over” (Dionne Warwick), the first of her 23 in the Top 40.

1963: “Blue on Blue” (Bobby Vinton); “Be True to Yourself” (Bobby Vee); “True Love Never Runs Smooth” (Gene Pitney); “Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa” (Gene Pitney); “Wives and Lovers” (Jack Jones); “Anyone Who Had a Heart” (Dionne Warwick).

1964: “Walk on By” (Dionne Warwick); “Wishin' and Hopin' (Dusty Springfield); “You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart) (Dionne Warwick); “Reach Out for Me) (Dionne Warwick).

1965: “What the World Needs Now Is Love” (Jackie DeShannon); “What's New Pussycat?” (Tom Jones); “Make It Easy on Yourself” (Walker Brothers); “Are You There (With Another Girl)” (Dionne Warwick).

1966: “A Message to Michael” (Dionne Warwick); “Trains and Boats and Planes” (Dionne Warwick); “Alfie” (Cher); “I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself” (Dionne Warwick).

1967: “Casino Royale” (Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass); “Alfie” (Dionne Warwick); “The Look of Love” (Dusty Springfield); “The Windows of the World” (Dionne Warwick); “I Say a Little Prayer” (Dionne Warwick).

1968: “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” (Dionne Warwick); “The Look of Love” (Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66); “This Guy's in Love With You” (Herb Alpert); “I Say a Little Prayer” (Aretha Franklin); “Who Is Gonna Love Me?” (Dionne Warwick); “Promises, Promises” (Dionne Warwick).

1969: “This Girl's in Love With You” (Dionne Warwick); “The April Fools” (Dionne Warwick); “Walk on By” (Issac Hayes); “I'm a Better Man” (Englebert Humperdinck); “Baby It's You” (Smith); “Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head” (B.J. Thomas); “I'll Never Fall in Love Again” (Dionne Warwick).

1970: “(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me” (R.B. Greaves); “Everybody's Out of Town” (B.J. Thomas); “Let Me Go to Him” (Dionne Warwick); “(They Long to Be) Close to You” (Carpenters); “Paper Mache” (Dionne Warwick); “Make It Easy on Yourself” (Dionne Warwick); “One Less Bell to Answer” (5th Dimension).

1973: “ Living Together, Growing Together” (5th Dimension); “You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)” (Stylistics).

1981: “Stronger Than Before” (Carole Bayer Sager); “Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)” (Christopher Cross).

1982: “Making Love” (Roberta Flack); “Any Day Now” (Ronnie Milsap); “Heartlight” (Neil Diamond).

1983: “Always Something There to Remind Me” (Naked Eyes).

1985: “That's What Friends Are For” (Dionne Warwick and Friends [Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder]).

1986: “On My Own” (Patti Labelle & Michael McDonald).

1987: “Love Power” (Dionne Warwick & Jeffrey Osborne).

1989: “Don't Make Me Over” (Sybil). Not included on this list are the many B-side Bacharach tunes that, while they didn't chart separately, make up one-half of some smash hits. Four examples follow:

1957: “Warm and Tender” (Johnny Mathis), B-side of “It's Not for Me to Say.”

1958: “Sitting in a Tree House” (Marty Robbins), B-side of “She Was Only Seventeen (He Was One Year More).”

1963: “Let the Music Play” (Drifters), B-side of “On Broadway.”

1969: “Any Day Now” (Elvis Presley), B-side of “In the Ghetto.”

While reading this list, how many times did you say or think: “I didn't know Burt wrote that one!”

IZ ZAT SO? In 1952, when Burt Bacharach turned 24, pop star Vic Damone hired Burt to play piano in his band.

That same year, the first Bacharach song released on records came out, and he had the good fortune of it being a Nat King Cole recording.

Titled “Once in a Blue Moon,” it is one of eight tracks on “Penthouse Serenade” (Capitol H-322), a Top 10 LP.

The timing for exposure could not have been much better, as these were peak years for Cole. His single hit at that time was the now-classic “Unforgettable.”

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