I was listening to Old People’s Radio yesterday morning and they’ve really outdone themselves. Really, they shouldn’t have. They played a Burt Bacharach medley, sung by the King of Smooth himself. What a nice way to start a day, with a morning of Make It Easy on Yourself while ass high school seniors and dads late for work cheat the line going into the high school parking lot I swear if that Camry cuts me off one more time I’ll key him so help me you watch me I swear To live without you, Would only mean heartbreak for meeee-eeeee.
It got me to thinking about the piano music we had when I was growing up. Our piano bench was full of the standards - the Reader’s Digest Family Songbook, the big red Lutheran hymnal, Barry Manilow This One’s For You, and lots of John Schaum.
But the Burt Bacharach Hal David Songbook was my all-time favorite piano music for my sisters to play. It was too difficult for me, because just like everything else, I wasn’t as good as my sisters but rode along on their coattails and was known as the girl who could play the piano, just like I was known as One of the Smart Laney Girls when I suspect I wasn’t nearly as smart as they were. Because we looked alike, I often got mixed up in people’s minds with my sister Pam, who was not only smart but a really good piano player. She got to play with the professional pit orchestra for our high school musical and her piano recital was at the Butler Art Museum. She wore a gown and curled her hair. Need I say more?
Our piano was in the front room of our house and all of us would play piano for fun. This was an era before Facebook. Tetris wasn’t invented yet and we had three fuzzy TV stations. I played easy, slow songs where I could hide my hesitant mistakes behind dramatic pauses. Lots of pre-Captain Fantastic Elton John, Michel Legrand, Janis Ian and Carole King.
I loved when Pam would sit down and play from the Burt Bacharach Hal David Songbook. The songs were all about breaking up, divorces, boyfriends doing something to make their girlfriends sad, such as going off to war, having a duel, or sleeping around. Look up unrequited love in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of Burt Bacharach.
Sometimes I would pretend I was Dionne Warwick or that girl from the Fifth Dimension and sing along.
Though I try to forget it just can't be done
Each time the doorbell rings I still run
I don't know how in the world to stop thinking of him
‘Cause I still love him so
I spend each day the way I start out
Cryyy-ing my heart out!
No wonder I was the most depressed eighth grader in Reed Middle School. The soundtrack to my life was a collection of sad sack, morose break-up songs, the happiest one being What’s New Pussycat.
I haven’t changed all that much. As I write this, my daughter is playing My Heart Will Go On from Titanic on our piano and I’m melting into a puddle of wretched despair and loving every minute of it. My son will come in and play The Theme from The Office or David Bowie and I’ll yell in, “Don’t you know Summer of ’42?
Some people like to be depressed and I’m not only a member of that club, I’d like to be the accompanist.
Labels: Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Make it Easy on Yourself, What's New Pussycat