We got a lot of joy from “Back to Bacharach and David,” the retrospective of the songs of composer Burt Bacharach and his lyricist Hal David dating from 1960-70.
Originally produced off-Broadway in 1992, the revue had its first Los Angeles showing at the Music Box, an old vaudeville house located on a tough stretch of Hollywood Boulevard.
Growing up to the soundtrack of these songs, I could not imagine how cool and Californian they would sound to me as an adult. There’s The Look of Love, an ever-groovy mating song; Alfie, with its simple pronouncement that “without true love, we just exist”; and Walk on By, which perfectly marries the composer to his muse, songbird Dionne Warwick.
What songs — and what great old friends! They document the sixties, as free love morphed to disallusionment and then burned into loneliness. Four strong singers pour forth the 30+ Bacharach/David songs in a close approximation of sixties innocence. They arrived to my ears like joyful love letters.
There are oldies unheard in years: Wishin’ and Hopin’ and What’s New Pussycat are two. Don’t Make Me Over — the anthem of the dysfunctional relationship — is another. Then, my personal favorite Bacharach song, Message to Michael, with its oddly affecting, slightly sour melody:
Spread your wings for New Orleans
Fly away Kentucky Bluebird …
And take a message to Michael
He sings each night in some cafe …
Tell him I miss him more each day.
How well this enigmatic lyric melds with Trains and Boats and Planes. They’re juxtaposed in the show.
Trains and boats and planes are passing by
They mean a trip to Paris or Rome
For someone else but not for me
The trains and boats and planes took you away, away from me.
Bravo Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David!
Back to Bacharach and David | The Music Box @ Fonda | thru May 17, 2009
Oh, I think this calls for a link to listen to the master and the diva perform a medley together. Dionne Warwick was the third leg of the triumvirate begun by Bacharach & David producing some of the greatest American songs.
You know, since reading this I can’t get “Don’t Make Me Over” out of my head!
Thanks, Debra! 🙂
That’s the era when songs were songs — To be enjoyed and remembered. Sounds like a wonderful show.