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What the world needs now is love,sweet love, some new stars and, from me, a terrible honesty; LEGENDARY SONGWRITER BURT; BACHARACH ON HIS BIG HITS AND HEARTACHE.

Byline: Steve Hendry

What the world needs now is more music from the older generation – so says Burt Bacharach.

The master composer and songwriter, whose songs provided a soundtrack to the latter half of the 20th century, is still very much with it, even at the age of 85.

He's preparing for concerts in Edinburgh and Glasgow this month as part of a European tour which includes dates in Denmark, Norway and Italy.

When he finishes, he's taking a vacation before he and erstwhile collaborator Elvis Costello team up with Chuck Lorre, the writer of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, on a musical based on their 1998 album Painted From Memory.

It's a project Burt is upbeat about because it gives him an outlet which is not open to many of his contemporaries.

He said: "I am very excited about it, for my writing, for the possibilities of where I want to take it. It belongs in a project like that. The record business is in a very impoverished situation now.

"How many tremendous songs do you hear that you are going to hear three or four years from now? Not many.

"The artists we have that could really project those songs are barely recording or hardly being paid attention to.

"Where are Barry Gibb, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle and Dionne Warwick? It's a youth driven market.

"You have a better situation in the UK because you can cover the country if the BBC plays something and you can establish an artist.

"Adele is someone who can sell records but she is young, so she is new. It's a phenomenon, it's the unusual. There is an intensified youth market in everything." Any of today's young stars could learn something from Burt.

After working as a struggling songwriter, his career took off in 1957 when he teamed up with lyricist Hal David at the Brill Building, New York's legendary songwriting hub.

Bacharach and David became one of the most successful songwriting partnerships ever, producing hit after hit including Walk On By, I'll Never Fall In Love Again, The Look of Love and Close To You.

They worked closely with Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield and their songs were recorded by everyone from The Beatles and Barbra Streisand to Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin.

They won an Oscar for Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and also wrote memorable film themes such as What's New Pussycat and Alfie. They also won Grammy and Tony awards for the songs from their hit Broadway musical Promises, Promises.

While his success in song is unparalleled – Burt has written 73 Top 40 hits in the US nd 52 in the UK – his personal life has been more challenging.

He's been married four times, including 5 years to actress Angie Dickinson. Their aughter, Nikki, who had Asperger's yndrome, committed suicide in 2007 ged just 40.

He has been married to Jane Hansen, with whom he has a son and a daughter, since 993, but Burt has laid bare his past in his nflinching memoir – Anyone Who Had A eart: My Life and Music – which is published n the UK next week.

He said: "I was not into writing a book ecause I was too much into the present and be the future to ever go back and look back at stuff.

"But if you are going to do it, there's only one way to do it – be terribly open, terribly honest.

"There's nothing in it to make anybody out there feel bad but if I'm doing it, it's got to be honest.

"Let the blemishes show and I'm fine with that.

"I'm glad I did it but I really didn't enjoy promoting the book. I've promoted records before but this was something else – they work your ass off, man.

"Every minute, another radio station in another city in another state but it's part of the deal. They pay you and they own you for two weeks."

Despite his age, Burt keeps in shape and works out every day. And he has never lost his passion for his songs – which are still relevant today. He said: "We did a concert in New Jersey 12 days after 9/11.

"If you look at the last songs we played – The Windows of the World, What the World Needs Now, That's What Friends Are For – they were an emotional rollercoaster.

"If my music can touch people, that's a blessing for me."

Burt plays the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, on June 28 and the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, the following night.


Five songs that revealed the genius of songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David. I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER The original version, produced by Burt, was recorded by Dionne Warwick in 1967 but the definitive version was recorded a year later by Aretha Franklin.

Burt said: "As far as somebody going in without me being there and doing one of my songs, you would have to say Aretha's version was much better than the one I made with Dionne."

RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN' ON MY HEAD Written by Bacharach and David for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid soundtrack.

It was sung by BJ Thomas and won the Oscar for best song in 1970.

Burt also won an Oscar for best score for the film.

THIS GUY'S IN LOVE WITH YOU When Herb Alpert asked Burt if he and Hal had any songs lying about, he ended up with his first No1 hit in 1968. WALKONBY A massive hit for Dionne Warwick in 1963, it also gained her first Grammy Award nomination.

The song was also covered by Isaac Hayes with a legendary 12–minute version in 1969. Sybil scored a hit with it in 1990 and Cyndi Lauper again in 2004.

(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU First recorded by Richard SOUL LEGEND Aretha's version of I Say A Little Prayer Chamberlain, it was a dud until it was picked up by The Carpenters, giving them a US No1 in 1970 and the first of their three Grammy Awards.

"Where are today's Aretha, Dionne or Barry Gibb? It's all youth–driven


GOLDEN OLDIE Burt is still performing at the age of 85

WRITE STUFF Burt has enjoyed successful collaborations with Elvis Costello, left, and lyricist Hal David, right

GLAMOUR Burt with then wife Angie Dickinson at the height of his fame in 1969. Inset, at the piano at their home in Hollywood

SOUL LEGEND Aretha's version of I Say A Little Prayer is Burt's favourite
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 2, 2013
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