“I abandoned thoughts of trying to make a Frankenstein’s monster — some ungodly hybrid of ‘Pump It Up’ and ‘What’s New Pussycat,'” Costello said “I didn’t feel I needed to bring the harshest sounds of my style to bear on this particular group of songs.”
When he first worked with Bacharach on the song “God Give Me Strength” for the 1996 film “Grace of My Heart,” their collaboration was so rushed, they didn’t actually meet until they got into the studio to record it, Costello said.
“That was such an extraordinary experience in making a good working relationship that we didn’t have time for doubts. By the time we found ourselves in the studio recording that song, it was just apparent to both of us, that whatever preconceptions we or anybody else might have had about it, it did work.”
Bacharach’s range was much wider than the cocktail music with which he’s usually associated, from the rock of “Little Red Book” as recorded by Love and Manfred Mann, to novelty left turns like “The Blob” to balladry for Johnny Mathis.
“He was very businesslike about his music, which I loved, “ Mathis said of Bacharach in a 2018 interview. “and as I got to know him over the years, I appreciated it. He jumped right in when I was available to sing single records and we became friends.”
Two of the earliest Mathis songs of Bacharach’s were also title songs on the 1959 albums on which they appeared: “Heavenly” and “Faithfully” — both co-written with Sidney Shaw. Bacharach would provide his most memorable string of songs with lyricist Hal David, who died in 2012.
“Yeah, I got really lucky,” Mathis says.
A perfectionist with his own arrangements, Bacharach didn’t mind when others got creative with his songs, as Sergio Mendes found when he and his band Brasil ’66 did a sultry Latin version of “The Look of Love” in 1967
“The song was a kind of mild hit for Dusty Springfield. That’s when” I heard the song, and I said maybe I can make this sound a little Brazilian, with the arrangement, the rhythm, so it was different from the original,” Mendes told me in 2021.
“Burt, we’re friends, and ‘The Look of Love’ became a hit. He loved my version,” Mendes said.
Durable, timeless, expansive — Bacharach’s songs gave us a lot with music that will be with us for a long time.