What’s It All About? The passing of Hal David

This Wednesday’s Struming remembers legendary Hal David, who passed away on September 1 at age 91. The term genius is given to many, but deserved by few. Hal David was one of the few to earn it.

Interestingly, I mentioned his passing to several people and most looked at me with a “Who is he?” look, or asked if he was related to Larry David. His songs and lyrics are universally memorable. His name and likeness were not. But Hal David crafted words, together in most instances with Burt Bacharach’s music, creating songs which are all personal favorites. And his lyrics stay with you forever.

If you see me walking down the street, and I start to cry each time we meet. Walk on bywalk on by.

What’s it all about, Alfie?  Is it just for the moment we live?

I am not ashamed to say that his lyrics still take my breath away. His ability to create memorable phrases was second to none. I grew up in the ad business at BBDO, and Phil Dusenberry, BBDO’s  late creative leader, used to speak of the “phrase that pays”, a memorable selling idea that sticks with you. I submit that if Hal David was a copywriter that he may have been the best of all time.

How’s this list of David-Bachrach hits for you?

Do You Know The Way To San Jose?

What Do You Get When You Fall In Love?

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head

What’s It All About (Alfie)?

(They Long To Be) Close to You

I Say A Little Prayer

This Guy’s In Love With You

Anyone Who Had A Heart

One Less Bell To Answer

Always Something There To Remind Me

Walk On By

The Look of Love

What’s New, Pussycat?

What The World Needs Now (Is Love)

What the world really needs now is another Hal David. He will be missed, but his lyrics remain.

Note: Thanks to friend Nancy Crume whose Facebook comment inspired this post. And thanks to friend David Applegate for reminding me about the Carpenter mega-hit Close to You, which is now in the revised post above.

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