Best-known Burt Bacharach songs, from 'Walk on By' to 'That's What Friends Are For'

The acclaimed US composer died at his Los Angeles home on Wednesday

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American composer Burt Bacharach, who died at his Los Angeles home on Wednesday aged 94, was a titan of 20th century pop music.

With six Grammys and three Oscars to his name, he was known for using atypical chord progressions and phrasing, with clear jazz influences.

More than 1,000 artists, including Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert and The Carpenters, topped the charts with his tunes. Here are 10 of his most famous.

(They long to be) Close to you (1963)

Many might recognise (They long to be) Close to you as the 1970 breakout hit of brother-sister duo The Carpenters. However, the song was written several years prior by Bacharach and his long-time collaborator Hal David, who died in 2012. It was recorded by several artists including soul singer Dionne Warwick in 1963 and pop star Dusty Springfield the year after. Bacharach even released his own version in 1971.

Walk On By (1964)

One of Warwick’s best-known tracks, Walk on By, was also written by Bacharach and David. The song reached number six in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in the year it was released and was nominated for a Grammy in 1965. The track has been rerecorded by several artists, including Isaac Hayes in 1969.

What the World Needs Now Is Love (1965)

The Bacharach-David song was first recorded by Jackie DeShannon and became an instant hit. It reached the top 10 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1965, and was a chart-topper in Canada. In his 2014 autobiography, Bacharach said the song’s main melody was written back in 1962 and pivoted around a waltz tempo. The song was also routinely used as an intro and conclusion to Bacharach’s live performances.

I Say a Little Prayer (1967)

Written with David specifically for Warwick, the song expresses concern by a woman whose lover is serving in the Vietnam War. The track was recorded in 1966, and though Bacharach felt its rhythm was rushed, it became immensely popular, reaching number four in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in December 1967.

The Look of Love (1967)

The Look of Love was first conceived as an instrumental. However, it truly shined when accompanied with Dusty Springfield’s husky voice singing lyrics penned by David. One of the best-known songs in the British singer’s oeuvre, it featured in the 1967 James Bond spoof film Casino Royale and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. It also received a Best Song nomination at the 1968 Academy Awards.

Do You Know the Way to San Jose? (1968)

The Bacharach and David song won Warwick her first Grammy Award in 1969, becoming her biggest international hit and selling several million copies worldwide. It tells the story of a person from San Jose who returns to the California town after failing to make it in the Los Angeles entertainment industry.

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head (1969)

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head was written by Bacharach and David for the 1969 Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Sung by B J Thomas, it topped charts in the US and won an Oscar in 1970 for Best Original Song. The film also nabbed Bacharach the award for Best Original Score.

I'll Never Fall in Love Again (1969)

Though written by Bacharach and David for the 1968 musical Promises, Promises, there are several recordings of I'll Never Fall in Love Again. The most acclaimed versions are by Warwick, which reached number six in the US Billboard Top 100, and by Bobbie Gentry, whose 1969 version reached number one on the UK Singles Chart that same year.

Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do) (1981)

Among the most recognisable movie theme songs of its time, Arthur’s Theme (Best You Can Do) was co-written for the film Arthur by singer Christopher Cross, Bacharach and his writing partner and then-wife Carole Bayer Sager. The song won the 1982 Academy Award for Best Original Song.

That's What Friends Are For (1982)

Written by Bacharach and Bayer Sager, That's What Friends Are For was first recorded by Rod Stewart in 1982 for the comedy film Night Shift. However, the cover version of the track was recorded in 1985 by Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. Released under the Warwick & Friends moniker, the song was a charity single for AIDS research and prevention. It won two Grammys in 1986 and raised $3 million for the cause.

Updated: February 10, 2023, 9:03 AM