5 Songs You Didn’t Know Burt Bacharach Wrote for Other Artists and Film

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

A multi-faceted composer for nearly 70 years, Burt Bacharach’s music has endured through major hits crossing most genres of music, in addition to film scores and more, working with a collection of collaborators, particularly the late lyricist Hal David (1921-2012), earlier on in his career.

Born Burt Freeman Bacharach on May 12, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, Bacharach’s family moved to New York City, where he grew up in the Kew Gardens section of Queens. As a teen, music was already driving Bacharach. Influenced by bebop jazz and greats like Charlie Parker, Bacharach who would use fake IDs to get into jazz clubs, catching performances by some of the greats like County Basie and Dizzy Gillepsie. Serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, music was still with Bacharach, who served as a pianist at officer’s clubs and arranged music for dance bands.

After the army, Bacharach served as conductor and pianist for the singer Vic Damone and from there began working with other artists, later becoming a music director for the actress Marlene Dietrich and her nightclub shows, a position that brought more attention to him as a composer and arranger of music. 

By the early’60s, Bachrach was also showing his prowess as a songwriter, penning country-rock hits like Gene Pitney’s “Only Love Can Break A Heart” and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

It was this time that Bacharach also met David, and their songwriting relationship began. The duo wrote numerous songs for Dionne Warwick, including 39 chart hits like “Don’t Make Me Over,” “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” and “Walk On By.” Bacharach also co-wrote Warwick’s 1985 hit “That’s What Friends Are For” with then-wife Carole Bayer Sager, which featured Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight and went on to win a Grammy for Song of the Year.

Bacharach and David also wrote for film, including “The Look of Love” for the 1967 spy parody of a James Bond film Casino Royale, which became a gold record for Dusty Springfield and Sérgio Mendes. The song was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The duo wrote dozens more, including scoring the 1969 Robert Redford Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which featured the memorable track “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” and earned him a pair of Oscars and a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

By the 1980s, Bachrach began writing with Sager, and the couple wrote hits like “Heartlight” for Neil Diamond, Roberta Flack’s “Making Love,” Patti LaBelle’s 1986 hit “On My Own,” featuring Michael McDonald, and more.

In 1996, Bacharach was also the recipient of The Johnny Mercer Award, the highest honor in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Though his catalog is plentiful, here’s a handful of songs Bacharach wrote for other artists, and film, during his nearly seven-decade career.

“The Story of My Life,” Marty Robbins (1957)
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Released in 1957 by country singer Marty Robbins, the song reached No. 1 on the U.S. country chart, where it remained for four weeks, and No. 15 on the Billboard Top 100. Another version, recorded by British singer Michael Holliday also reached No. 1 in the U.K. The song was eventually bumped from the top spot in the U.S. by Perry Cuomo’s “Magic Moments,” also written by Bacharach and David.

“Baby It’s You,” The Shirelles (1961)
Written by Burt Bacharach, Hal David, and Barney Williams (Luther Dixon)

Produced by Dixon, who worked with Elvis Presley, The Beatles, B.B. King, The Jackson 5, and more, “Baby It’s You” was recorded by The Shirelles and The Beatles and was a hit for both groups, as well as another version by the band Smith, who took the song to No. 5 on the U.S. charts. Released in 1961, The Shirelles’ version became a Top 10 hit, peaking at No. 8 on the Hot 100 chart.

“What’s New Pussycat?” Tom Jones (1969)
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Featured in the 1965 Woody Allen comedy of the same name, also scored by Bacharach, “What’s New Pussycat” gave Welsh singer Tom Jones his second Top 40 hit in the U.S., peaking at No. 3 and was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1966. Throughout the years, Barbra Streisand, The Four Seasons, The Wailers, and more would cover the song.

Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do),” off Arthur Soundtrack (1981)
Written by Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross, and Peter Allen

Performed by singer Christopher Cross, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” was featured in the Oscar-winning film Arthur, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. In 2011, Fitz and the Tantrums recorded their rendition of the song for the 2011 remake of the movie.

“I Still Have That Other Girl,” Elvis Costello (1998)
Written by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello

What began as a collaboration by the pair for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart, turned into a lengthier collaborative album with the 12 songs of Painted for Memory. Though Costello and Bacharach wrote the entirety of Painted from Memory, “I Still Have That Other Girl” was one track that won a Grammy Award in 1998 for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Costello, a longtime fan of Bacharach’s, has also recorded some of his songs, including “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself.”

Photo: Eric Ray Davidson / Shore Fire Media

Leave a Reply

More than 1,000 Musicians Pay Their Respects to Taylor Hawkins with “My Hero”

‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Soundtrack Brings Wall to Wall ‘80s Hits