One of the greatest songwriters of all time offers a frank and riveting account of his life and the stories behind the hits.
Over the past six decades, Burt Bacharach's legendary songwriting has touched millions of devoted listeners all over the world. In Anyone Who Had a Heart, Bacharach steps out from behind the music to give an honest, engaging look at his life - from his work with Hal David, Dionne Warwick, Elvis Costello, and many others to his tumultuous marriages and the devastating fate of his beloved daughter.
Growing up in Forest Hills, New York, during the 1930s and '40s, Burt Bacharach fell in love with music after sneaking into a Manhattan jazz club to see the legendary Dizzy Gillespie. After a stint in the Army during the Korean War, he toured the world with Marlene Dietrich, wrote an endless string of hits, scored numerous Hollywood films, married the glamorous movie star Angie Dickinson, and composed the music for the huge Broadway hit Promises, Promises.
While he soared professionally, Bacharach's private life was dominated by the never-ending search for love - and the heartbreak that comes when it is lost - which is reflected in his greatest songs. His first three marriages ended in divorce. His long-running partnership with the late Hal David suffered a bitter split that lasted seventeen years. Throughout the highs and lows, Bacharach steadfastly pursued his muse - a quest that continues to this day.
Anyone Who Had a Heart is the story of a man who has always expressed his deepest feelings through his music. Filled with the emotional power that defines Burt Bacharach's most unforgettable songs, his memoir offers a candid backstage look at show business as well as the personal struggles of an artist whose incredible body of work has earned him a unique position in the American cultural landscape.
©2013 Burt Bacharach (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
This narrator has an amazing understated deadpan humor. There are various other voices that come in to read quotes by people other than Bacharach - and those are fine - but the voice of Bacharach himself (about 95% of the book is in the 1st person) is extraordinarily good.
I listen in the car
The time period covered (40s, 50s, 60s) and types of music (early rock & r&b to the Beatles era) are of course very dated, but Bacharach's best work was of timeless genius in terms of pure melodic and harmonic inspiration and originality. I mean - listen to Walk on By - it's pure, unadulterated genius. The lesser stuff like Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head sounds corny after 5 decades, but there are at least 20 Bacharach songs that will always sound like masterpieces - Beatles-level classics. Bacharach was the bridge from the great Tin Pan Alley composers like Kern, Gershwin, Rodgers, Porter and Arlen, and the post-Beatles composers. I don't think Motown and Beatles could have been what they were without Bacharach to show the way. The 32-bar standard had been exhausted. Rock & Roll was fresh and vital but harmonically limited. Bacharach (at his best) showed how the sophistication of Tin Pan Alley (to say nothing of Debussy) could be freed from ii7 V7 I and used in a rock context. He paved the way for Holland Dozier Holland, Lennon & McCartney et al.The book is satisfying in terms of talking about the musical details - although not as good as, say, the Geoff Emerick Beatles book. If you're a musician you might hope for more of a discussion of the technical elements, but there are still valuable insights in that regard. But what makes this book so special is the humor. I see how the negative reviewer in this thread might (inaccurately) consider him narcissistic in that he recounts all his affairs with beautiful women - he would sound like a name-dropper, except for the fact that he really did move in those circles on a continuous basis - but he's also extraordinary self-effacing in the most humorous and endearing way. I'm about 30% of the way through and I've had at least 25 major laughing attacks. I'm not sure if it's the writing or just the narrator's pitch-perfect delivery but I really love this book.My advice is not to be put off by the opening 15 minutes or so. At first, it sounded like he was 1) full of himself and 2) had a chip on his shoulder, but that impression faded very quickly once he started his story chronologically. And, from an audio point of view, this narrator is as good at his job as Bacharach was at his.
I had such a different idea of who this man was that I was sorry I read this. Other than his talent for music, he has very few redeeming qualities and it was hard to read this. He was referred to as narcissistic, but that is a compliment. I would add shallow, and much more.
I thought it was going to be a loving book about his daughter, but it's just a book about his lack of character..
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