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Spectropop - Digest Number 77


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   "If you are able to tell which was written first, the lyric or the
          melody, then there is something wrong with the song."


There is 1 message in this issue of Spectropop.

Topics in this Digest Number 77:

      1. The Spectropop Group interviews Hal David
           From: Spectropop Admin


Spectropop - Digest Number 77 is entirely devoted to an
email interview with one of the most acclaimed and
beloved lyricists of our time, Mr. Hal David. The
questions for this interview were submitted by the
Spectropop Group earlier this year. Mr. David, who has
been traveling in Europe, submitted his replies
earlier this week.

We have had artists such as Diane Renay and Barbara
Alston contribute to our forum, as well as record
producers Jerry Riopelle and Bob Alcivar. Studio
musician Carol Kaye is a group regular and has
forwarded comments from Perry Botkin Jr. and others to
our group. This interview, however, marks the first
time that we have had the privilege of hearing from a
renowned lyricist, and it is with great pleasure that
we welcome Mr. David's guest appearance here.


 --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------

> From: David Feldman
> Mr. David,
> I can't tell you what a thrill it is not only to be able
> to ask you some questions, but also to tell you how much
> pleasure you have given me. You are my favorite lyricist,
> ever, and I marvel how lyrics that meant the world to me
> 40 years ago mean more to me today.
> I think the Dionne Warwick rendition of "Last One To
> Be Loved" is a combination of a spectacular melody,
> lyric, vocal, and production. I know that "Make Way For
> Dionne Warwick" was virtually a greatest hits album, but
> was there any consideration toward making this a single?

We thought of making "Last one to be loved" as a single,
but decided to go with another record -- which one I
don't recall at this time.

> I'm often struck by the seeming simplicity of the word
> choice your lyrics. In "Walk on By," the vast majority
> of words used are one-syllable. Was this a conscious
> choice? Does it make a difference to the rhythm of the
> song if the beats consist of consonants or whole words?
>  "If you see me walkin' down the street"
> would scan as well (but not sound as good!) if expressed
> as:
>  "Phosphorence never disappoints"
> Do you consciously think about matters like: "Given the
> shuffle beat and the walking theme, short words will give
> more of a sense of movement?" Or is this not a factor at
> all?

In "Walk on By", I wrote the lyric to the music. The use
of one syllable words was to help punctuate the musical

>  Given the passion and directness of so many of
>  your lyrics, there was a period in the 1969-1970 era
>  when many of your lyrics in your hits, whether
>  expressing happy or sad emotions, had a sort of
>  bemused, detached tone. In many cases, Burt's music
>  supported the ironic tone (e.g., "Raindrops") and
>  other times serves as a counterpoint (e.g., "Odds &
>  Ends, "Everybody's Out of Town"). Did your frame of
>  mind change? Was it the times? Or of no cosmic
>  significance whatsoever?

In each of the three songs, "Raindrops", "Odds & Ends",
"Everybody's Out of Town", I wrote the lyrics to the
music and the ideas came out of what I heard the music
saying to me.

> Of your many gifts, one of the most powerful has to
> be coming up with fantastic first lines of lyrics.
>  "A chair is still a chair, Even when there's no one
>  sitting there"
>  "Once there was a boy who left the bed he slept in"
>  "What's it all about, Alfie?"
> are all like the beginning of mysteries to me. How can
> you not stick around to find out what these lyrics lead
> to? Could you talk a little bit about the importance of
> the first line of a song?
>  Thanks again for giving us an opportunity to "talk"
>  to you.

Very often the first line of a lyric -- even more than
the title -- sets the tone for the song. I try very hard
to come up with an arresting opening line whenever

 --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
> From: Jamie LePage
> On many songs the lyrics feel
> happy and optimistic at the hook, yet on closer
> examination are lonely and desperate. Always Something
> There To Remind Me, What the World Needs Now is Love, Do
> You Know the Way to San Jose and This Guy's In Love With
> You each utilize this device to great effect; An
> instantly memorable sing-song hook segues to this
> intense longing in the verses. I'll tell you one thing -
> that contrast gives deep emotional impact to many
> Bacharach/David penned recordings.
> My first question is: Did this contrast between happy,
> catchy hooks and low, moody verses come as a natural
> marriage to the melodies or as a deliberate application of
> learned skills as a lyricist? Would the contrast of lyrical
> mood sometimes influence Burt's melodies?

The contrast between happy melodies and moody lyrics is
something I often consider, because it gives the song a
distinction it might not have writing happy with happy or
moody with moody.

> Next I want to ask about "the one that got away." You must
> be very gratified when Close To You became such a big song
> long after Dionne's LP version was first issued. Are there
> any others from this particular period of your career that
> you feel have yet to reach their potential?

I feel the song "Hasbrook Heights" has never reached
it's potential.
> Lastly, please tell us a bit about your songs. Many Brill
> writers were signed to Aldon, Trio, Hill & Range, etc.
> Publishing credits on Dionne's Scepter LPs list Blue Seas/
> Jac Music. Was Jac Music your own company? If so, wasn't
> it unusual for a songwriter to be self-published in those
> days?
> Thanks so much for your time.

Yes, JAC Music was my company and Blue Seas was Burt's
company. And yes, it was unusual for song writers to
self publish in those days. Happily that's what we did.
It gave us more control over our own work.

--------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------

> From Jill "Mingo-go"
> I would like to ask Hal what a person has to go through
> to write such emotional despair. I've always thought
> "Wow...Hal must have been on a bummer." So I suppose I'd
> like to ask if he really was. The words just seem to
> paint a pretty clear picture in many of his songs, and
> that world is not really such a nice place, but full of
> passion nonetheless. Really...I can identify with it...

The most important thing a writer has, in addition to
his or her talent, is imagination. My lyrics come out of
my imagination. On the whole, I've led a very happy life,
with the normal ups and downs of most people.

--------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------

> From: Marc Wielage
> I suspect Mr. David has a lot of terrific
> stories to tell about his many years in the music
> business. Would you ever consider writing an
> autobiography, ala Alan Jay Lerner's excellent book ON
> THE STREET WHERE I LIVE? I bet there are many people
> out there who would enjoy reading your story.

I think I do have many stories to tell about my life in
the music business and somewhere along the way I expect
I will be writing a memoir. Thank you for your interest.

--------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------

> From: Tom Waters
>  I've always thought that the most beautiful song by
> Hal David and Burt B. is "If I Never Get to Love You". I
> was wondering how this song came into being and if it was
> written for anyone in particular. I have two recordings
> of it, one by Gene Pitney and the other by Marianne
> Faithfull. Pitney's version is exciting and I enjoy the
> way he attacks the song (as he does all songs), but
> Marianne's version really brings out the beauty of the
> song in a way that does it full justice. What is the
> story behind this amazing song?

I wish I could remember how "If I Never Get to Love You"
came into being. At this moment, I can't recall whether
I wrote the lyric to Burt's music, or if he wrote the
music to my lyric. I love the Gene Pitney record, but I
also enjoy Marianne Faithfull's version.

Hal David

--------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------

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