An Ivy Style reader recently submitted this fine photo of composer Burt Bacharach circa 1966. Fans of the Great American Songbook will likely consider him the last in a line of succession that stretches back to the parlor tunes of the early 1900s. After Bacharach’s hits for Dionne Warwick in the late ’60s and early ’70s, popular music would take a different tune. It would certainly become less adult, and recording artists would either write their own material or rely on a different breed of songwriter no longer working in the tradition of greats like Cole Porter and George Gershwin.
As a little kid in the ’70s, I’d hear Bacharach’s songs in supermarket, sung by Warwick or the fragile Karen Carpenter. Later, as an adult developing appreciation of the great vocalists, I’d buy old vinyl albums of Jack Jones singing “Wives And Lovers,” which Bacharach composed in 3/4 time (just don’t blame him for the lyrics), and hear Bobby Vinton on the oldies radio station singing the song from which this post takes its headline. And finally, as a dabbler at the piano, I’d discover his sheet music and see how he worked his magic, such as the fortissimo climax of “This Guy’s In Love With You” from 1968. Here in Eb, it reaches its finale on an otherwise unspectacular chord of Bb, the dominant of Eb, save for the subtle and ingenious movement between Bbmaj7 and Bb7. That’s all he needed to do to bring the song to peak drama.
Burt Bacharach is still alive and kicking at the age of 89. If you’re young and unfamiliar with Bacharach, please investigate him on YouTube, Spotify, or your local garage sale. Below are a few more shots of interest, including Bacharach in seersucker jacket and tab collar, and in double-breasted blazer with buttondown. — CC