Perhaps Final Burt Bacharach Recording Gets Quiet Release (with Elvis Costello) Ahead of New Box Set

It might be Burt Bacharach’s final recording and it happened with his friend Elvis Costello.

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Over the weekend on Friday (February 10), the song “You Can Have Her” hit streaming platforms and it features the late Bacharach, who died earlier this week, and Costello together. The track was written around 2010 but it wasn’t recorded by the two legendary musicians for another 10 years. It includes an arrangement by Vince Mendoza.

Bacharach died on Wednesday (February 8) with his passing announced the next day, 12 hours before “You Can Have Her” hit DSPs. The song had been slated to drop on February 10 for some time as part of the box set, The Songs of Bacharach and Costello, which is set to drop on March 3.

The song was planned for a Broadway musical that never came about. It was set to be titled “Painted From Memory,” Variety reports, named after the album Costello and Bacharach released in 1998.

Costello highlighted the recording sessions in liner notes for the upcoming box set The Songs of Bacharach and Costello. In those, he wrote:

Behind the mixing board was Steve Genewick, who I had first met working on Diana’s records alongside Al Schmitt and now one of Capitol’s finest engineers in his own right. Beyond the glass, I could see Vince Mendoza at the podium making final notes on his score and the members of the orchestra were arriving and preparing for the downbeat.

A session of this scale required the combination of both Studios A & B with Burt’s handpicked players; Peter Erskine, who had played on both the New York sessions for North and the Abbey Road recording of ‘Il Sogno’ and bassist Will Lee, who I had known from his many years in the Letterman house band. The group was completed by guitarist, Paul Jackson Jr. and the pianist, Jim Cox, who did a wonderful job in finding the weight and tone that Burt might have brought to the part on earlier sessions.

I was in the vocal booth, setting vocal levels, when I heard Burt pulling into the studio car park. Although we had spoken on the telephone at regular intervals we had not seen each other since we hadplayed a seven-song set at a benefit performance in 2017 at the Belly Up, a small venue in Solana Beach, CA.

“I can’t pretend that time had not taken something from both of us but any thoughts that this might be a mere lap of honour were put away just two takes in when a familiar soft voice came over the talkback to my vocal booth. ‘Elvis…,’ always that ominous pause, ‘Bar six. You are not singing the right melody.’ Indeed I had unwittingly amended the notes of one phrase but it was not a change the composer wanted to hear. As the orchestral performance quickly began to cohere under Vince’s direction at the podium, Burt nevertheless had his ear tuned to the fine details and rhythmic agreements and spoke to the conductor. ‘I think we need to look at the downbeat of Bar 60.’

I looked through the glass into the control room at Burt’s assistant, Sue Main, who had been tireless and so caring in pulling this session together, as in everything else she has done since coming to work with Burt. Sue smiled knowingly. We’d seen this movie before.

Burt once told me that he didn’t drive himself mad seeking 110%anymore — ‘I settle for 95.’

Then again, he is also the man who responded to my concern abouthis recuperation after a bout of pneumonia, telling me that he had taken a long walk on the beach in 95º heat before adding, ‘But you know me, I’m an extremist.’ Although one might not think it at a glance, a truer word has never been said.

Then it was over and we had the two takes in the can with thirty minutes of the six-hour double session to spare. Studio musicians are not given to overt displays of extravagant emotion, approval sometimes only registered by a quiet departing word or the tapping of violin bows on music stands, but this orchestra rose as one to deliver a sustained ovation, when Burt walked out onto the studio floor to thank the players at the end of the session. The experience was rare and we all sensed it.

In the wake of his friend’s passing, Costello recently paid tribute to Bacharach during a recent show in New York. You can read more about that performance HERE.

Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

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