What the World Needs Now: Words by Hal David

(Rochester, NY) – Hosted by an ardent admirer, Bette Midler, What the World Needs Now: Words by Hal David is a musical tribute to the man who wrote some of the most enduring songs in American popular music. In partnership with composer Burt Bacharach, the duo dominated the pop-music charts in the 1960s and early 70s and crafted dozens of Top 40 hit recordings which are now timeless. What the World Needs Now: Words by Hal David airs Sunday, March 10, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Among Bacharach and David’s greatest hits:

  • “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”
  • “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”
  • “What the World Needs Now Is Love”
  • “Walk on By”
  • “Alfie”
  • “The Look of Love”
  • “I Say a Little Prayer
  • “A House Is Not a Home”
  • “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”
  • “What’s New, Pussycat”

Guests interviewed for the program include Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Valerie Simpson, B. J. Thomas, music writer Francis Davis and NPR’s Terry Gross, along with a cavalcade of music-clip performances from Aretha Franklin, Cher, Barbra Streisand, B. J. Thomas, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Jackie DeShannon, Glen Campbell and, of course, the fabulous Warwick, who is the inspirational muse for almost the entire Bacharach-David songbook.

Hal David’s own oral histories and talk-show appearances provide a first-person commentary about his childhood, the craft of songwriting and his many accolades and honors, including Grammy Awards, four Academy Award nominations for Best Song, a Tony nomination for the Broadway show Promises, Promises, and a 1970 Oscar for “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Brooklyn-born Hal David (1921-2012) began his songwriting career at the legendary Brill Building in Manhattan after service in World War II. Before he teamed up with Bacharach, David had worked with several different composers and achieved only halting success with pop songs for Vic Damone (“The Four Winds and the Seven Seas”), Teresa Brewer (“Bell Bottom Blues”) and Frank Sinatra (“American Beauty Rose”). By contrast, David’s initial collaborations with Bacharach in 1957 brought almost immediate success, with “The Story of My Life,” by country star Marty Robbins, and “Magic Moments,” an enormous international hit for Perry Como.

“Don’t Make Me Over,” Dionne Warwick’s first recording in 1962, launched the decade-long explosion of musical creativity and chart-topping hits that encompass the Bacharach-David songbook. It was the hard-rock era, a time torn by war and protest, but young hearts still yearned for love, and nobody articulated that yearning more memorably than Hal David.

His unadorned, conversational style, with Bacharach’s soaring melodies, found fertile ground not only in pop records around the world but also on Broadway, in dozens of Hollywood films, and most enduringly at weddings, where Karen and Richard Carpenter’s (“They Long to Be) Close to You” became the classic “first-dance” tune. The brilliant songwriting partnership ended unhappily in 1973, when the pressures of unimaginable success as well as a colossal Hollywood failure (the movie musical Lost Horizon) became too much for the team to sustain.

Pictured: Hal David
Credit:
 Courtesy of Photofest

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