The Return of Strumings: What’s It All About?

I began Strumings in November 2009 and made a commitment to myself that I would publish at least once a week. I fulfilled that commitment every week for more than 10 years. More than 500+ Strumings. The streak was broken in February just before COVID changed all our lives. In reality, the streak was not as important as Cal Riken’s or Lou Gehrig’s, although ironically Lou Gehrig was an indirect reason for the streak to end.

My wife Beth had ALS. It was progressing quickly and Beth passed away on September 17, less than a year after it was diagnosed. And although I have written some Strumings in the past few months, the last ones were 2 months ago in August.

I choose not to write about Beth now.  Maybe at a future time. But I want to get back in the groove of writing Strumings again for one reason: I like to, and I need some things that I like to do right now. I am always gratified (and sometimes mystified) when others like my Strumings too. If I touch others with my ramblings, I am doubly thankful.

Today’s renewed Struming is an oldie about a song that has always touched me: Alfie. Its key lyric relates to everyone: What’s It All About? I first posted this in 2019. Hope you enjoy. Here’s the Struming:

What’s it all about, Alfie?

Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?

The words are by the late Hal David and music by Burt Bacharach. Alfie is one of the best songs of all time (according to me) but more importantly, Burt Bacharach’s favorite, and they had an unbelievable catalog of hits. Though Burt’s musical strength is not in singing, I still find it moving when I’ve seen him perform it, because you can hear how moved he still is by the song.

Alfie had an interesting history in that it was written in 1965 by David & Bacharach for the movie, Alfie, starring Michael Caine. It was then recorded by UK artist Cilla Black who did a wonderful version and the song appeared in the movie which was released in the spring of 1966. Cilla had earlier recorded Anyone Who Had a Heart (another great song) which was a #1 UK hit.

Alfie has been covered by many artists, but it would not become a hit in the US until 1967 when it was recorded by Dionne Warwick, David/Bacharach’s original choice to record the song. Her version peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, not too shabby, but interestingly never even a top 10 song for what I believe is the David/Bacharach combo’s best song.

It is an instance where the lyrics and music are so seamlessly married, which why the song is so powerful.

The question What’s It All About? is powerful and universal to anyone who pauses to reflect on the meaning of their life, as I do now.

I am happy to appreciate greatness that stands the test of time. For those not as familiar with the song Alfie, I encourage you to listen in a quiet moment and hope you can also appreciate it too.

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