Hal David

A little over 6 weeks ago I was playing a show and spending the night on the Jersey shore. Thankfully, we were north of any MTV-type shenanigans, but on the Jersey shore we were none the less. And my friends and I started having a conversation about a song we could possibly start to play, "Always Something There To Remind Me," by Naked Eyes. Released in 1983, it's a really great song that I'm sure you know and have heard on the radio. We pulled it up, checked it out, and our bass player really pushed hard for it.

Then someone mentioned that the song was originally written and released in the 1960s. Seriously? I was somewhat skeptical of this claim, and being slightly OCD about information I immediately started to find out if this is true. And it is. The song was first released in 1964 by an artist named Lou Johnson. But the real revelation to me was who wrote the song: Burt Bacharach and Hal David. I was at once very surprised...and not surprised one bit. These, guys, after all, seemed to write everything, from "What the World Needs Now Is Love," to "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head," to "I Say A Little Prayer."

Grammy and Oscar-winning songwriter Hal David passed away on Saturday at the age of 91, a giant of the music industry. In 2011, I was at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Gala along with Mr. David, but I sadly never got the chance to meet him. I could go on and on about the impact that he and his lyrics had on American music, about all the songs that have found a place in the very fabric of our popular culture, and about moments and times in my life that I have come to associate with a Hal David song. But I wont. Instead, I want to give you a quote from an interview Mr. David gave for Paul Zollo's book, Songwriters On Songwriting. On where song ideas come from:

"Songs come from a million different places. Somebody says something. And suddenly it rings a bell. You're watching a movie or a show or a television program and you hear a line. You're in the audience and you hear a phrase, and suddenly there's an idea for a song.

I think most times they just come. I guess it comes to you because that's what you do. As opposed to doing something else. That's a specific talent you have, and the more you do it, the more it comes.

Early in my career, there were periods of times when ideas wouldn't come. And it used to worry me. I'm sure it worries any writer. Is it all over? [Laughs] Is this it? What do I do? Start learning how to make shoes, or cut salami? But I got beyond that at a certain point. And at this point in my life, when I work, I work. And the ideas come."

Hal David, 1921-2012.

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    © STEVE SCHULTZ