Friday, November 11, 2011

The Look of Love

by Anna Campbell

The 60s rule today on Tote Bags!

Because I'm working madly on a deadline, I'm trying to follow the dicates of Dorothea Brande in her wonderful BECOMING A WRITER (great book on creativity if you don't know it) and keep myself fresh and focused during the long hours at the computer.

One thing she suggests is doing something that is NOT involved with words because as writers we can overuse that part of our mind and like any muscle under too much strain, it gets tired. She suggests gardening or walking or playing a musical instrument or something crafty like knitting. Sadly, I'm utterly hopeless with crafts, can't even cut a straight line, but I've made an attempt to do some gardening and some walking every day.

What I want to talk about today is the music bit. I've played the piano all my life (off and on) but lately I've made a concentrated effort to play every day. I really think it's helped my work on the book whose deadline is looming.

Two pieces that have recently joined my repertoire are by Burt Bacharach, the beautiful love songs This Guy's in Love with You and The Look of Love.

I chose this cover to the right as an illustration because in fact I've discovered it's NOT easy to play Burt B. Perhaps if you're a bit more rhythmical than I am, you might have a better time of it (pun intended). But he rarely writes a note on the beat which means as I play, I have to count aloud to get the complicated syncopations right.

By the way, is that the scariest picture you've ever seen or what? Eeeeek!

It's worth it because the songs are just so pretty - although they're inclined to become earworms. The Look of Love is from the soundtrack of the rather silly James Bond film with David Niven called CASINO ROYALE. Great music, though. And isn't that poster for the movies just the 60s with bells on?

Speaking of pictures, there's not enough posters of men wearing big fluffy jumpers these days, are there? Snicker! Although at least Burt looks considerably less scary in his woolly incarnation.

I remember Burt Bacharach songs as part of my very early childhood on the car radio when we'd go driving as a family. But I think the first time in my maturity that I really sat up and paid attention to them was when I stayed in a house by the sea with some friends and there was a CD player with some CDs. One of them was the marvelous Dionne Warwick's greatest hits, most of which were songs by BB and his lyricist Hal David.

My poor friends! I got a bit of a craze on this CD and it was rarely off rotation over the week we were there. Needless to say, none of my housemates were quite as enamoured with this music as I was. And by the way, nobody ever told me the way to San Jose! Even though I asked and asked, I was stuck 24 hours from Tulsa.

Burt Bacharach went through a stage of being hopelessly uncool although he's had a bit of renaissance in recent years. I remember seeing him with Elvis Costello in a funny scene in the first AUSTEN POWERS movie. In fact, I think that very song may have been The Look of Love.

The songs are beautifully constructed and have wonderful haunting (although syncopated, sheesh!) melodies. Just think of Anyone Who Had a Heart or What's New, Pussycat? or Walk on By.

So let's talk about old school music. Are you a Burt Bacharach fan? Do you have a favorite Burt Bacharach song? Any particular memories that go along with that favorite song? Would you look as good tie-dyed as the girl in the CASINO ROYALE poster?


Betty Hamilton said...

Ah, Burt. Walk on By is one of my all time favorites! Sorry, no story to go with it.... just the normal teenage memories.

Jennifer Tanner said...

Hola Anna!

A topic near and dear to my heart!

It's definitely the syncopated rhythms of Burt's compositions that make them difficult to play. As a child, I had a mad crush on Burt. :) I grew up listening to his music and had a couple of his songbooks for piano. He and Hal David were quite a team.

His music is the perfect inspiration for writing. The phrasing of the lyrics help me with the cadence of sentences, if that makes any sense.

Angie Dickinson came up with the "one less egg to fry" line, which is one of my favorite songs.

Cheryl Leigh said...

Burt and Dionne, what a great pair! You have brought back some memories, Anna. :)

I read the other day Burt was coming out here again. The last time he came I thought his voice was a little reedy (how old is he now?), but didn't he write some great, catchy songs? I think I still have an LP of his somewhere...

I think it's great you're still playing the piano and that it helps with writing. I learnt for years but now I can only remember the scales! I'd love to hear you play one day. :)

The Brunette Librarian said...

I'm a little young for Burt, but I still love his music. Definitely good for a groovy day :)

rachie2004 AT yah00 *d8t* c-m

peggy said...

I love that song

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Betty, cool to meet another fan. Walk on By is lovely - one of things I love about his songs is the beautiful arrangements too. Some of them are almost symphonic! About to tackle Alfie - wish me luck!

Anna Campbell said...

Jen, you're so right. That syncopation makes those lyrics really come alive as if the person is speaking them to us, don't they? I hadn't realized that although I should have. Man, they're shockers to play, though. Snorted my tea when I saw that book saying how easy he was to play - in my dreams! So glad you're another fan. I really think those songs are classics that transcend their era.

Anna Campbell said...

Cheryl, I wrote this piece a little while ago (working on deadline so tried to get a bit ahead). Then saw that Burt was coming out to perform with the Sydney Symphony. What a great night that would be - are you going? I think his voice has always been a bit reedy but I remember seeing someone interviewed who said it was strange - no matter how good the singer who recorded the song, they couldn't come near the emotional punch of Burt with his reedy voice singing it. Oh, dear, if I'm going to give a concert, I'd better go and do some more practice ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

BL, love your name! Actually one of the things I remember about those long car trips in the 60s when I was VERY young (let me make that very clear, snort!) is that you could hear all sorts of things on the radio. Musicals. A bit of classical. Pop music. Rock and roll. Nice way to get a musical education. I still have a great fondness for a lot of those songs - love the tragic girl songs of the 60s although I don't think those women made great role models, LOL! They always seemed to be pining away for some bloke who did them wrong.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, cool, Peggy! Glad to meet up with some other fans. I just wish they weren't quite so atrocious to play! The neighbours give me the look of hate when I start on the Look of Love!

Annie West said...

Hi Anna,
I'm impressed by you playing Burt. I'm not so much of a fan that I can tell you faves but I do know that I'll often hear a piece I think fantastic, and often deceptively simple, then remember it's Burt. Happy playing!

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, I think that deceptively simple thing is the key to how wonderful these songs are. Playing them has been a good lesson - really made me see how intricately put together they are. Yet they sound quite conversational when you hear them. True artistry!

Michele L. said...

Oh I just love his music! They are all my favorites because I love his songs that much! Wow, you are groovin girl! Have fun!

Gail said...

I love Burt Bacharach's music.I grew up on it. The one I love most is "What The World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love" It makes me think of more romantic times.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Michele, this is so nice. When I put up this piece, I wasn't sure if I'd land among friends. And clearly I have! Aren't the songs wonderful? You can listen to them over and over and always find something new.

Anna Campbell said...

Gail, I love that song too. It's an amazing catalogue. I think what struck me when I revived my interest in Burt on this seaside holiday was quite how many brilliant songs he'd written over the years. Hit after hit and every one different, every one a stand alone piece of art. Love it! It's been nice seeing him having a renaissance in recent years. I can remember him being considered hopelessly uncool which is just ridiculous. Stuff this good should always be in style!

Melanie Milburne said...

Hi Anna,
The first song my husband played for me on the piano was This Guy's in Love With You. We had only had one date! It was so romantic and every time I hear that song I smile. Thanks for a great post!

Anna Campbell said...

Melanie, it's such a divinely romantic song, isn't it? When you play it, it builds and builds and builds. How romantic that he played it for you - a real keeper!

Cheryl Leigh said...

Anna, I'm not going to the concert. I read today it's a farewell one. With the symphony orchestra, it will no doubt be a special concert.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Cheryl, what a pity. I think the concert would be great. Yeah, I'd heard it was a farewell one too. He must be a fair age now!

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks, guys, for a fun day talking about old-style love songs! See you next month!

Pat Cochran said...

1.Bacharach fan? Oh yes, definitely.
2.Fave songs: Look of Love, One Less
Bell To Answer.
3.No special reason except that Honey
sang them to me.
4.In the '60s, yes, I do believe that
I could have given Ms. Casino Royale
a run for her money! Quote from Honey:
"Not a doubt in my mind!" LOLOL!

Mary Preston said...

I don't mind a bit of Burt & I leave my tie-dye wearing outfits for around the house.