Hal David, whose prolific songwriting partnership with Burt Bacharach made their music—"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," "What The World Needs Now Is Love," "Don't Make Me Over," "What's New Pussycat?," "Always Something There to Remind Me," "Walk on By," “I Say a Little Prayer," "(They Long To Be) Close To You" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"—American pop music stand-bys, died yesterday at age 91. David had suffered a major stroke in March and was stricken again last weel; he passed away from complications at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. His wife Eunice said, "Even at the end, Hal always had a song in his head. He was always writing notes, or asking me to take a note down, so he wouldn't forget a lyric."
David's NY Times obituary notes that his "lyrics could be anguished pleas, wistful yearnings, sexy mash notes or wry musings, and sometimes all four in the same song." Besides his and Bachrach's hits for Dionne Warwick ("Don’t Make Me Over," "Don't Make Me Over," "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" and "Say A Little Prayer"), "David’s words found fertile ground on Broadway, in the hit musical 'Promises, Promises'; in the movies, in the Oscar-winning song 'Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head' from 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'; and at weddings via the classic first-dance song '(They Long to Be) Close to You.'"
Harold Lane David was born in Manhattan on May 25, 1921, a son of Austrian-Jewish immigrants who owned a delicatessen in Brooklyn. One of his brothers, Mack, nine years older, became a successful songwriter first, writing “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine” for Patti Page and the lyrics for “I’m Just a Lucky So-and-So,” which was recorded by Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald, among others. When Mr. David wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps, he discouraged him, and Mr. David became an advertising copywriter for The New York Post. After wartime service in the Army, during which he wrote songs, skits and plays, Mr. David was determined to make songwriting his career.
He and Bacharach worked at the legendary Brill Building (1619 Broadway (aka 1613-23 Broadway, 207-213 West 49th Street). On his website, David explained, "In writing I search for believability, simplicity, and emotional impact. Believability is the easiest of the three to accomplish. One thing a lyricist must learn is not to fall in love with his own lines. Once you learn that, you can walk away from the lyric and look at it with a reasonable degree of objectivity. Often I discard a good line because it is inconsistent with the basic idea. If the line happens to be witty or sad in a particularly fresh way it hurts me to take it out. But that's part of the pain of writing."
Here are just a few of David and Bacharach's songs, including covers from Naked Eyes, Glee and the White Stripes: