When considering a list of Burt Bacharach’s best songs — as we do whenever there’s a death like this — the temptation is to say, well, everything.
The enormity of Bacharach’s talent and contributions cannot be overstated. Born in Kansas City, Miss., and educated at music at conservatories in Montreal, New York and California, he was a master composer and arranger, not to mention a pretty fair pianist. He could lay out a melody like other people turn on a sink. And when paired with great lyricists — especially Hal David and, later, Carole Bayer Sager and Elvis Costello — Bacharach created timeless works that were strong enough to sustain multiple “definitive” versions.
His body of work could be considered the Great American Songbook 2.0, and those tunes were sung by some of the best: Dionne Warwick, Jackie DeShannon, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin, even Herb Alpert in a rare vocal performance. The Recording Academy dubbed him “music’s greatest living composer” in 2008, and four years later, he and David were the first songwriting duo to receive a Gershwin Prize for popular song from the Library of Congress. Bacharach’s many other accolades include six Grammy Awards (plus Lifetime Achievement and trustees awards), three Academy Awards, a Songwriters Hall of Fame induction and a Polar Music Prize in Sweden. People magazine even dubbed him one of the Sexiest Men Alive in 1999.
Bacharach never lost his formidable touch; check out Blue Umbrella, his 2020 EP with Nashville songwriter-producer Daniel Tashian, to show how vital he remained.
As for the best? There’s a lot of it. But here’s our 10, which we recommended being merely a gateway to his legendary catalog.
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