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Monday, September 3, 2012

The Elegance Of Hal David's Lyrics

Hal David's Hollywood Star from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Hal David's Hollywood Star
In almost any day's pop music, lyrics sometimes seem to be written almost as an afterthought. Create the beat, the hook and the music, then just try to fit some words in to fill up the space seems to be the way it works.  That's what makes Hal David's lyrics all the more elegant.

David, who died on recently at 91, co-wrote with Burt Bacharach some of the 60s and 70s most enduring pop hits for a variety of stars like Dionne Warwick ("Do You Know The Way To San Jose," "Walk On By," "I Say A Little Prayer," "Always Something There To Remind Me,"), BJ Thomas ("Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head"), Jackie DeShannon ("What The World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love"), The Carpenters ("Close To You"), and Herb Alpert ("This Guy's In Love With You") among many others.

You may not like this type of music, but you have to admire the lyrics. They not only tell a story, but they almost never feel forced into a rhyme. They're concise and to the point, but feel like the best kind of poetry; the kind that anyone can grasp and relate to.

While David's hooks were outstanding, it's his bridges and B-sections that really make it for me. Here's the B-section to "San Jose":
LA is a great big freeway
Put a hundred down and buy a car
In a week, maybe two, they'll make you a star
Weeks turn into years. How quick they pass
And all the stars that never were
Are parking cars and pumping gas.
It tells a story that anyone who's ever lived in LA can relate to, yet is so skillfully crafted the the lyrics flow easily together, especially when they're sung.

Here's the bridge to "What The World Needs Now:"
Lord, we don't need another mountain
There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers enough to cross
Enough to last 'till the end of time. 
What the world needs now, is love sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just to little of
Once again, a picture is painted and it's followed by a concept that's universal, but it's so well put together that everything moves easily without ever feeling like it was thrown together.

And finally, the bridge from The Carpenters "Close To You:"
On the day that you were born the angels got together
and decided to create a dream come true
so they sprinkled moon dust in your hair
of golden startlight in your eyes of blue
When was the last time you heard a "true - blue" rhyme done so well?

I could go on all day with examples, but if you're a songwriter or lyricist that really wants to reach for the sky, study Hal David. He was one of the all time best.


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Anonymous said...

I certainly do like this type of music. Someone once called it 'elegant despair'. Thank you Hal, your elegance has inspired me. Your spirit of grace and humanity will live forever.

Anonymous said...

some true timeless masterpieces.


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