Monthly Archives: July 2010

Burt Bacharach’s Summer Songs

A few weeks ago, in the midst of San Francisco’s June Gloom I made the joke that I should make a Burt Bacharach Playlist of Fog songs that included flugelhorns, but in reality, there’s a number of Burt Bacharach songs that make sense as relaxing summer classics, starting with

1) Gene Pitney
“True Love Never Runs Smooth” (1963)

This song was one of the first hit songs by Burt Bacharach to use a decidedly “European” instrumental feel, sounding more like a French/Italian ballad with overdubbed English lyrics.

2) Jackie DeShannon
“So Long Johnny” (1966)

This relaxed Saxophone laced song about long distance love is interesting that it for the majority of its length sounds like a languid lounge jazz song, except for it’s bombastic bridge. Lyrically it’s not all that different from The Shangri-La’s “The Train From Kansas City”

3) Dionne Warwick
“You’ll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart)” (1964)

It’s the season of summer weddings, and it’s appropriate to think that during this time quite a few lectures about what may have happened at bachelor/ette parties the night before the wedding go exactly like this Dionne Warwick summer hit. Terse, moral and barely understanding.

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4) Jerry Butler
“Make It Easy On Yourself” (1962)

And simply, what is summer without a major epic overblown break-up ballad, sounding large as the day is long is Jerry Butler’s version of this Burt Bacharach chestnut

5) Timi Yuro
“If I Never Get To Love You” (1963)

And then what is Summer without a unrequited crush or two, or the ambition to actually make a summer romance happen? Timi Yuro’s turbocharged version of this song (oddly the versions by Gene Pitney and Lou Johnson seem.. well… pussified) Sounds like a declaration of war against loneliness. God this woman was awesome.

6) and 7) Dusty Springfield
“I Just Dont Know What To Do With Myself”

& “Wishin’ & Hopin” (1964)

Basically the combination of the Jerry Butler and Timi Yuro numbers. The odd thing was that The former was released worldwide in the summer of 1964, while the later was a US only hit for Springfield in the Summer of 1964.

8) Lou Johnson
“Always Something There to Remind Me” (1964)

Again the airy breezy feeling (although more folk guitar influenced this time around) is set against angst ridden lyrics of haunting romance. We won’t enumerate how many different times this song was covered, and I’ll just say Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles cover was the best version.

9) The Drifters
“Mexican Divorce” (1962)

And what happens when you don’t follow the advice of “You’ll Never Get To Heaven?” You end up below the national border, across the Rio Grande, and you “leave your past behind.” For such a sad song lyrically, it makes divorce sound rather neat, tidy and a relief. Song factoid, on Backgrounds are the Gospelaires (future Sweet Inspirations) and the the more crystal high soprano background voice standing out is Dionne Warwick, as this is the recording session that Burt Bacharach took notice of her voice, and her face, and his future muse.

and 10) Chuck Jackson
“They Don’t Give Medals to Yesterdays Heros” (1966)

As summer comes to a close and we don’t want to move on to another season of life, here’s a good song to remind us to keep looking forward, and not concentrate on the past. There’s seasons for a reason and I totally didn’t intend to rhyme that. Seriously.

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