A number of years ago, Rocks Off went to see Burt Bacharach perform with the Houston Symphony. We knew a little bit about his music and were familiar, or so we thought, with many of his bigger hits like "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and "What the World Needs Now." We also knew he had done some recent work with Elvis Costello and appeared in the Austin Powers films, but that was pretty much the extent of our knowledge.
Before Bacharach came on stage, the conductor explained that, in 1979, the Houston Symphony recorded an entire live record at Jones Hall that included Carly Simon, which shocked the hell out of us. He then went on to say that we probably know Bacharach wrote a lot of songs, but we might be surprised when we hear some of them. We were. Since today is the 50th anniversary of the number one hit "Tower of Strength" he wrote for Frankie Vaughn, we thought we'd surprise you too.
"That's What Friends Are For"
You may already this was a Bacharach composition. It gained tremendous popularity when Dionne Warwick -- a woman who sung many of Bacharach's biggest hits -- and friends including Elton John and Stevie Wonder performed this as part of an AIDS benefit. But we bet you didn't know that it was actually written for the film Night Shift and originally performed by Rod Stewart. We could go on about all the weird connections that movie has to pop culture, but we just recommend you watch it and check the credits.
"(They Long to Be) Close to You"
Looking back, it seems a little obvious given the style of the song, but this massive hit for The Carpenters was recorded by several others before them. In fact, it was a B-side twice. We personally enjoy the Rick Moranis version sung to his estranged wife in the movie Parenthood.
"What's New Pussycat?"
While Bacharach certainly wrote some stirring love songs, we found it a little odd that he penned the sexed up and bombastic Tom Jones hit.
"Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)"
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
There was a point in the early '80s when it was nearly impossible to escape hearing this light rock movie title hit. It was basically unstoppable and Bacharach was responsible.
"(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me"
There wasn't a single song that caused our ears to do a double take like this hit by '80s new wavers Naked Eyes, but what we didn't know until later is that their other hit, "Promises Promises" was completely unrelated to the hit Broadway musical of the same name, also written by Bacharach. Who knew?