Hal David's sensitive and romantic lyrics provided the perfect counterpoint to Burt Bacharach's hip and cool melodies and together, the celebrated pair of composers charted on the Billboard Hot 100 for decades.
The New York-born David had racked up a list of hit songs before he met Bacharach, including "Four Winds and Seven Seas" by Sammy Kaye in 1949 and "Bell Bottom Blues" by Teresa Brewer in 1954. Three years later, he was at the offices of Paramount Pictures' music publishing arm, Famous Music, when he was introduced to Bacharach.
Within a year, the new team made chart history in the United Kingdom when they were the first songwriters to have two consecutive No. 1s. "The Story of My Life" by Michael Holliday was succeeded by "Magic Moments" by Perry Como for a combined 10 weeks in pole position. In America, the original version of "The Story of My Life" by Marty Robbins put the names David and Bacharach on the chart, and Como's "Magic Moments" was a hit B-side, the flip of "Catch a Falling Star."
David and Bacharach didn't write with each other exclusively. David teamed with others to compose hits like Sarah Vaughan's "Broken-Hearted Melody," Don Gibson's "Sea of Heartbreak" and Joanie Sommers' "Johnny Get Angry," while Bacharach worked with Bob Hilliard on Gene McDaniels' "Tower of Strength," Chuck Jackson's "Any Day Now" and the Drifters' "Please Stay." Bacharach and Hilliard also wrote "Mexican Divorce" for the Drifters, and it was during the recording session that Bacharach met backing singer Dionne Warwick. By the end of 1962, Warwick was signed to Scepter and had her first hit single - "Don't Make Me Over," written by Bacharach and David.
It was the beginning of a long and successful collaboration. The team of Bacharach, David and Warwick crafted a unique sound that provided a soundtrack to the 1960s with songs like "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "Walk on By," "I Say a Little Prayer" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose."
Warwick wasn't the only vocalist hitting the charts with David and Bacharach songs. If they had a favorite male singer, it was Gene Pitney, who recorded their "Only Love Can Break a Heart," "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance," "True Love Never Runs Smooth," "Donna Means Heartbreak" and "Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa."
David and Bacharach also provided hits for Bobby Vee ("Be True to Yourself"), Jerry Butler ("Make It Easy on Yourself") and Jack Jones ("Wives and Lovers").
In 1964, Bacharach scored his first motion picture, the wild comedy "What's New Pussycat?" and the soundtrack yielded a No. 3 hit for Tom Jones with the title song. Warwick sang "Here I Am" in the film and Manfred Mann was chosen to cut "My Little Red Book," which was covered by the rock group Love.
More cinematic work followed, including "Alfie," with a title song recorded by Warwick as well as Cher and Cilla Black and "Casino Royale," a James Bond send-up that included two hit singles, "The Look of Love" by Dusty Springfield (who had covered "Wishin' and Hopin' in 1964) and the title instrumental by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.
It was Alpert who would give Bacharach and David their first No. 1 hit on the Hot 100. When CBS asked Alpert to star in a television special in 1968, the musician came up with the idea of singing to his wife. But first, he needed the right song. Over 50 were submitted, and Alpert selected Bacharach and David's "This Guy's in Love With You." The day after the special aired, the network was flooded with calls from viewers asking where they could buy the song. The single was released the next day. In June, "This Guy's in Love With You" captured the top spot on the Hot 100 and remained there for four weeks.
Bacharach and David were back in first place for another four weeks when they scored the first No. 1 of the 1970s with another soundtrack song, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." B.J. Thomas did the vocal honors for the Academy Award-winning tune.
Six months later, David and Baharach were back on top for the third time with a song that had been around since 1963. It had been recorded by Warwick as well as actor Richard Chamberlain, but it wasn't a smash until a brother-sister duo recorded it for Alpert's A&M Records. "(They Long to Be) Close to You" by the Carpenters was No. 1 for four weeks.
Warwick moved on to other songwriters in the 1970s and eventually Bacharach and David worked with others, too. In 1984, David was back in the top five of the Hot 100 with the Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson duet, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," written with Albert Hammond. In the 1990s, David continued to chart, thanks to Diana King's version of "I Say a Little Prayer" from the film "My Best Friend's Wedding" and the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Warning," which included a sample of Isaac Hayes' update of "Walk on By."
Sampling also brought David back to the Hot 100 in the 21st century. In 2003, Ashanti's "Rain on Me" included a sample of Hayes' take on "The Look of Love." A year later, "Slow Jamz" by Twista featuring Kanye West and Jamie Foxx included a sample of Luther Vandross' version of Dionne Warwick's "A House Is Not a Home."
Hal David leaves behind a chart legacy that will last way beyond his lifetime, as his timeless lyrics continue to be covered and sampled. It's our good fortune that he happened to be at Famous Music the same day as Burt Bacharach and that a "Mexican Divorce" led to a platinum catalog of Dionne Warwick hits. And it's our great loss that now, there is one less bell to answer.
THE HAL DAVID TOP 50
Below is a list of Hal David's top 50 Hot 100 hits as a songwriter, based on chart performance. The ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from each era, certain time frames were weighted to account for the difference between turnover rates from those years.
01 Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head, B.J. Thomas (1970)
02 (They Long to Be) Close to You, Carpenters (1970)
03 This Guy's in Love With You, Herb Alpert (1968)
04 One Less Bell to Answer, The 5th Dimension (1970)
05 My Heart Is an Open Book, Carl Dobkins, Jr. (1959)
06 Slow Jamz, Twista featuring Kanye West & Jamie Foxx (2004)
07 To All the Girls I've Loved Before, Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson (1984)
08 I Say a Little Prayer, Dionne Warwick (1967)
09 Blue on Blue, Bobby Vinton (1963)
10 The Look of Love, Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (1968)
11 What's New Pussycat?, Tom Jones (1965)
12 Only Love Can Break a Heart, Gene Pitney (1962)
13 Wishin and Hopin', Dusty Springfield (1964)
14 Walk on By, Dionne Warwick (1964)
15 (The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance, Gene Pitney (1962)
16 Warning, The Notorious B.I.G. (1995)
17 Broken-Hearted Melody, Sarah Vaughn (1959)
18 What the World Needs Now Is Love, Jackie DeShannon (1965)
19 This Girl's in Love With You, Dionne Warwick (1969)
20 I'll Never Fall in Love Again, Dionne Warwick (1970)
21 Always Something There to Remind Me, Naked Eyes (1983)
22 Anyone Who Had a Heart, Dionne Warwick (1964)
23 Johnny Get Angry, Joanie Sommers (1962)
24 Do You Know the Way to San Jose, Dionne Warwick (1968)
25 Message to Michael, Dionne Warwick (1966)
26 Rain on Me, Ashanti (2003)
27 What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin and John, Tom Clay (1971)
28 I Say a Little Prayer, Aretha Franklin (1968)
29 Don't Make Me Over, Sybil (1989)
30 Wives and Lovers, Jack Jones (1964)
31 Alfie, Dionne Warwick (1967)
32 Don't Make Me Over, Dionne Warwick (1963)
33 Sea of Heartbreak, Don Gibson (1961)
34 Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa, Gene Pitney (1963)
35 Promises, Promises, Dionne Warwick (1968)
36 True Love Never Runs Smooth, Gene Pitney (1963)
37 You'll Never Get to Heaven, The Stylistics (1973)
38 Make It Easy on Yourself, The Walker Bros. (1965)
39 The Look of Love, Dusty Springfield (1967)
40 Make It Easy on Yourself, Jerry Butler (1962)
41 Reach Out for Me, Dionne Warwick (1964)
42 Everybody's Out of Town, B.J. Thomas (1970)
43 Walk on By, Isaac Hayes (1969)
44 Casino Royale, Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass (1967)
45 I Say a Little Prayer, Diana King (1997)
46 I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself, Dionne Warwick (1966)
47 Trains and Boats and Planes, Dionne Warwick (1966)
48 Outside My Window, The Fleetwoods (1960)
49 Who Is Gonna Love Me?, Dionne Warwick (1968)
50 Always Something There to Remind Me, R.B. Greaves (1970)