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Happy birthday, Hal

Published Tuesday, May 25, 2010 @ 3:09 AM EDT
May 25 2010

Hal David (b. May 25, 1921) teamed with composer Burt Bacharach to write some of the most enduring standards in American popular music.

I've always felt- particularly today- that David's contribution has never received its due, especially from the general public. Writing lyrics isn't easy, especially when your musical partner's style is known for its distinctive irregular phrasing, syncopation and wild rhythm patterns- Promises, Promises changes meter 20 times, on occasion after only a single bar.

David, insightful, reflective and sophisticated, wrote lyrics that could stand on their own, even stripped of the melody. My favorite David lyric is Alfie:

What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about, when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give?
Or are we meant to be kind?

And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
Then I guess it is wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie
What will you lend on an old Golden Rule?

As sure as I believe there's a heaven above Alfie,
I know there's something much more-
Something even non-believers can believe in.

I believe in love, Alfie-
Without true love, we just exist, Alfie-
Until you find the love you've missed, you're nothing, Alfie.
When you walk, let your heart lead the way.
And you'll find love any day-

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