New collaboration has Burt Bacharach still working at 92

New collaboration has Burt Bacharach still working at 92

New collaboration has Burt Bacharach still working at 92

Burt Bacharach has been working on an ending.

Not that he’s ready to call it quits on a career that began in the 1950s. Instead, the acclaimed composer is enjoying a burst of creativity at age 92, thanks to his new collaboration with Nashville singer-songwriter Daniel Tashian.

On Friday they’ll release a five-song EP titled “Blue Umbrella.” And despite being separated by two time zones and a couple of generations, they’re continuing to write music together, including a tune titled “Quiet Place,” which may be nearly finished.

“I do have an ending,” Bacharach tells Tashian during a recent three-way phone call. “It hits home. Later we will talk and I will play it for you. I think it’s what you’re looking for.”

“I can’t wait,” Tashian responds.

That’s the likely reaction of any Bacharach fan to the prospect of new music from the composer of “This Guy’s In Love With You,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” among many other hits. The EP is his first album in 15 years, and he’s glad to keep busy during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In these times it’s like a lifesaver, while being terrified at what’s happening outside,” Bacharach says from his home in Pacific Palisades, California. “It’s a form of therapy.”

Tashian, 45, is also delighted by the improbable collaboration and its timing. His parents, the folk duo Barry and Holly Tashian, played in Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band. His dad was a member of the Remains when they opened for the Beatles at Shea Stadium.

And Tashian grew up a Bacharach fan.

“They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears,” Tashian says from his home in Nashville. “It’s a great thrill. There is a whole world of sound in his head that is so pleasing to be able to collaborate with.”

Tashian started writing songs in high school, plays in two bands and last month released his second children’s album, “Mr. Moonlight.” He won two Grammys last year for his role as a songwriter and producer on Kacey Musgraves’ critically acclaimed release “Golden Hour,” and that album brought him to the attention of Bacharach.

They first met at Bacharach’s house the day after last year’s Grammys and immediately hit it off.

“The more we spent time together,” Bacharach says, “the more I liked Daniel, and the more brilliance he showed to me.”

Over the phone, Bacharach has the same raspy voice that sang “Close to You” with Barbra Streisand on network TV. That was before social distancing, as the intimate 1971 performance suggests.

An appearance on a recent promotional Zoom call shows Bacharach also still has a California chic shock of gray hair. He might hunch a bit, but then that’s piano player posture, and he doesn’t look, talk or write like he’s 92.

Bacharach once wrote a song titled “(It’s) Wonderful to Be Young,” but he has always worked as though time were on his side.

“It took me three weeks to write ‘Alfie,’” he says. “I never enjoyed anything else while I was trying to finish that song. I was going to the theatre and not enjoying the play, because my mind was on trying to solve a problem with ‘Alfie.’

“But they don’t give medals for speed.”

Bacharach was working for Marlene Dietrich in Las Vegas in 1957 when he learned he had his first hit — a country rendition of “The Story of My Life” by Marty Robbins. Such is the range of artists drawn to Bacharach’s work over the decades.

Now comes “Blue Umbrella,” with Bacharach composing most of the music and Tashian writing most of the lyrics. It’s a set of graceful, soulful ballads with an air of sophistication that is classic Bacharach.

One song, titled “Bells of St. Augustine,” includes a one-octave interval in the melody. It was Tashian’s role to sing the songs, and he filled it beautifully, although he concedes he doesn’t read music well and was a bit unnerved to have Bacharach assessing his studio performance from the piano.

“I remember one time saying, ‘Burt, is there anything you want me to change?’” Tashian recalls with a chuckle. “And he said, ‘But wait a minute, you didn’t even get the notes right yet. Let’s not change anything, let’s just get it right.’

“It’s a learning thing for me, and I’m enjoying singing these songs so much. They are difficult, but you really feel alive. There are some interesting intervals, and when you land the jumps, you feel a certain triumphant feeling.”

They finished recording the EP before the pandemic began. When it ends, they hope to perform the songs in concert, and also hope to write and record a full album together.

Tashian was struck when they first met by Bacharach’s eagerness to keep working.

“I remember going into Burt’s writing room,” Tashian says. “There are a lot of trophies in there. I was thinking, ‘Man, if I had done half the stuff you’ve been able to do, I’d probably just put my feet up a little bit.’ He corrected me right away. He said, ‘You don’t want to put your feet up. You want to say, What’s next?’”

That’s Burt Bacharach at 92, inspiring because he’s still inspired.

Steven Wine, The Associated Press

Music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Economists “cautiously hopeful” for economic recovery in Alberta

Charles St. Arnaud says Alberta’s recovery will rebound along with roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

Image curtesy Metro Creative Connection
County of Wetaskiwin addresses unpaid oil and gas taxes

The County of Wetaskiwin is addressing unpaid oil and gas taxes and… Continue reading

file photo
County Council discusses new tax incentives for non-residential properties

County of Wetaskiwin Council discussed new tax incentives for non-residential properties at… Continue reading

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Pictured here is Stettler’s Jenner Smith with a guide dog from Aspen Service Dogs Inc. An online auction will be running soon to help raise funds for Jenner to receive his very own service dog later this year. Jenner, who is four years old, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019. photo submitted
An online auction is planned to raise funds for a service dog for a Stettler family

Jenner Smith, four, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

Maskwacis virtual job fair
MEC goes virtual with job fair and services during pandemic

By Chevi Rabbit For Ponoka News Maskwacis Employment Center’s (MEC’s) semi-annual job… Continue reading

hands
The call is out in Rimbey to sign on with a group that is all about building connections

‘Already, we are building a network where we can rely on each other and help each other out’

Most Read