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Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music

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In his memoir Anyone Who Had a Heart, Burt Bacharach, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, offers a frank and riveting account of his unparalleled life. From his tumultuous marriages and the tragic suicide of his daughter, to his collaborations with Hal David, Carole Bayer Sager, Neil Diamond, Elvis Costello, and others, Bacharach details his long-lasting success as In his memoir Anyone Who Had a Heart, Burt Bacharach, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, offers a frank and riveting account of his unparalleled life. From his tumultuous marriages and the tragic suicide of his daughter, to his collaborations with Hal David, Carole Bayer Sager, Neil Diamond, Elvis Costello, and others, Bacharach details his long-lasting success as well as the never-before-told stories behind the hits. Candid and emotional, and with 16 pages of color photographs, Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music is Burt Bacharach in his own words—a powerful and personal look at the award-winning songwriter and composer.


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In his memoir Anyone Who Had a Heart, Burt Bacharach, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, offers a frank and riveting account of his unparalleled life. From his tumultuous marriages and the tragic suicide of his daughter, to his collaborations with Hal David, Carole Bayer Sager, Neil Diamond, Elvis Costello, and others, Bacharach details his long-lasting success as In his memoir Anyone Who Had a Heart, Burt Bacharach, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, offers a frank and riveting account of his unparalleled life. From his tumultuous marriages and the tragic suicide of his daughter, to his collaborations with Hal David, Carole Bayer Sager, Neil Diamond, Elvis Costello, and others, Bacharach details his long-lasting success as well as the never-before-told stories behind the hits. Candid and emotional, and with 16 pages of color photographs, Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music is Burt Bacharach in his own words—a powerful and personal look at the award-winning songwriter and composer.

30 review for Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I thought this memoir would be fun poolside reading about Burt Bacharach, a composer and musician I like. Instead, it's an unapologetic trudge through the history of his neuroses, narcissism, and bad behavior, punctuated with long excerpts from old interviews with his ex-wives, lovers, and friends. Although it was clearly inadvertent, the hero of the book is Angie Dickinson. She comes off as a self-sacrificing wife and mother, as well as a bright, grounded person. You wonder why she ever married I thought this memoir would be fun poolside reading about Burt Bacharach, a composer and musician I like. Instead, it's an unapologetic trudge through the history of his neuroses, narcissism, and bad behavior, punctuated with long excerpts from old interviews with his ex-wives, lovers, and friends. Although it was clearly inadvertent, the hero of the book is Angie Dickinson. She comes off as a self-sacrificing wife and mother, as well as a bright, grounded person. You wonder why she ever married him.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    I don't often read memoirs, although I'd like to read more. This one seemed interesting to me because I had an idea of what Bacharach must be like, after listening to his music for so long. I was totally wrong. Bacharach's voice comes through loud and clear, and I didn't always like what I heard. Memoirs are largely dependent on the person they're representing, and early on I didn't think I'd like this book. The reason was Bacharach's callous talk about women in general, as well as the women tha I don't often read memoirs, although I'd like to read more. This one seemed interesting to me because I had an idea of what Bacharach must be like, after listening to his music for so long. I was totally wrong. Bacharach's voice comes through loud and clear, and I didn't always like what I heard. Memoirs are largely dependent on the person they're representing, and early on I didn't think I'd like this book. The reason was Bacharach's callous talk about women in general, as well as the women that were in his life. He came across as a womanizer and a cad. I hated whenever he called a woman a "dog" to indicate that he thought she was ugly, or how he casually talked about cheating on his wives and girlfriends. At a point, though, the book transitioned to be less about his romantic escapades and more about his music, which is where I got sucked in. It details how he was the pianist, arranger, and conductor for Marlene Dietrich, and traveled the globe touring with her. I loved reading about how he met and began working with Dionne Warwick, who became famous singing the songs written by Bacharach and his songwriting partner Hal David. She had the perfect voice for these songs, and really made them iconic. Too bad Bacharach, Warwick, and David all fell out of favor with each other and embarked in a circle of lawsuits. They made up later, but missed out on a lot of potential years of more hits. Even better were the songs that I didn't realize Bacharach wrote. For example, Baby It's You, which was recorded by The Beatles. I also didn't connect him with That's What Friends Are For or Neil Diamond's Heartlight, both songs that were the foundation of the soundtrack of my earliest years (I was born in the early '80s). It was great reading about the instrumentation Bacharach would use in the studio, like five (count 'em, FIVE) pianos playing on the recording of Tom Jones doing What's New Pussycat?, or the amount of takes he would make the musicians do to get the perfect take. He'd have them do it over and over again, but when Herb Alpert recorded This Guy's In Love, Alpert insisted that they didn't need anymore takes because the first take was perfect, and it turns out it was. He also talks a lot about how musicians were irritated by his use of complex meters and time signatures in his music, but he wrote the song that wanted to be written without forcing it into 4/4 time. This comes across when you listen, because with the exception of songs like Promises, Promises, the melody flows so gently that the transitions in time signatures is hard to detect by most ears, which is a real testament to Bacharach's songwriting. I also had fun reading about the writing of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, because it was my favorite song in the whole world when I was a kid. Really. While I wasn't in love with Bacharach (he loves himself enough already), I am still in love with his music. I enjoyed getting insight into this aspect of music history, and am glad Bacharach's still with us. He talks about future projects, and you have to admire a guy who is still working so hard in his mid-80s. This is worth the read if you love the songs.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Koren

    Burt Bacharach wrote some of the most popular music of the 60's and 70's. At first I didnt think I was going to like this book. In the beginning, it seemed like it was one sexual conquest after another. After he got past that I really enjoyed it. If you are not familiar with his music you may not like this book because after he tells about his early years he has a story to tell about most of his more popular songs. He is not always a very nice or likeable person, having cheated on his first thre Burt Bacharach wrote some of the most popular music of the 60's and 70's. At first I didnt think I was going to like this book. In the beginning, it seemed like it was one sexual conquest after another. After he got past that I really enjoyed it. If you are not familiar with his music you may not like this book because after he tells about his early years he has a story to tell about most of his more popular songs. He is not always a very nice or likeable person, having cheated on his first three wives, one of which was Angie Dickenson. His third wife was Carol Bayer Sager, a songwriter in her own right. After the third marriage he seems to have settled down quite a bit. This book is full of nostalgia for those long lost days of the 60's and 70's. Just a few of his more popular songs: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Only Love Can Break A Heart Wishin' and Hopin' Blue On Blue Close To You Walk On By Alfie The Look Of Love I Say A Little Prayer One Less Bell To Answer Do You Know The Way To San Jose This Guy's In Love With You I'll Never Fall Again In Love Again Arthur's Theme

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ken!

    He started losing me when he said his first wife, "was really good looking and had great tits, which back then could not be prefabricated." This man is an unsurpassed American master of songcraft and all he wants to talk about is who he slipped it to. Burt comes off as a superficial misogynist but I was hoping for a little theory. The one part I did like was that this book gave the lie to the whole tortured bad boy artist archetype. Bacharach's partner, Hal David, is repeatedly described as a mil He started losing me when he said his first wife, "was really good looking and had great tits, which back then could not be prefabricated." This man is an unsurpassed American master of songcraft and all he wants to talk about is who he slipped it to. Burt comes off as a superficial misogynist but I was hoping for a little theory. The one part I did like was that this book gave the lie to the whole tortured bad boy artist archetype. Bacharach's partner, Hal David, is repeatedly described as a mild mannered dentist type. In spite of this handicap, he managed to write the lyrics to all of Burt's songs.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    One of the best autobiographies I've ever read. The stories Burt Bacharach tells are absorbing like few I've ever read. A classically trained conductor and pianist who studied under composers Darius Milhaud and Henry Cowell, Bacharach made his mark writing deceptively simple love songs using bizarre chord progressions and complex time changes. This turned out to be a great source of frustration for thousands of musicians and singers alike. The list of famous singers that turned down recording so One of the best autobiographies I've ever read. The stories Burt Bacharach tells are absorbing like few I've ever read. A classically trained conductor and pianist who studied under composers Darius Milhaud and Henry Cowell, Bacharach made his mark writing deceptively simple love songs using bizarre chord progressions and complex time changes. This turned out to be a great source of frustration for thousands of musicians and singers alike. The list of famous singers that turned down recording songs that would become his greatest hits is almost comical in a case of poor judgment. Like all great serious classical composers Bacharach became a hardcore insomniac, regularly waking up in the middle of the night to agonize over each and every chord and rhythm change. The end result are some of the most unique pop songs ever written. Lest you think this is a cold technical book about his music there's enough Hollywood Babylon gossip and anecdotes to keep you interested in his unstoppable sex life. Parts of this book read like a music version of "Shampoo", i.e. Bacharach knocking boots with some showgirl while one of his four wives waits for him to meet her for dinner. There's a lot of action going on in this thing and I wasn't disappointed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    My reaction to this book is mixed. I applaud the honesty; he includes details that put him in an unflattering light and show how self-centered he has been. At the same time, he doesn't seem self-aware *enough* somehow, and the book ends up feeling shallower than it should. I admire the inclusion of other voices in this autobiography, particularly those of his ex-wives, but learning that these quotes come from other sources rather than from interviews for this book is also a bit disappointing. Th My reaction to this book is mixed. I applaud the honesty; he includes details that put him in an unflattering light and show how self-centered he has been. At the same time, he doesn't seem self-aware *enough* somehow, and the book ends up feeling shallower than it should. I admire the inclusion of other voices in this autobiography, particularly those of his ex-wives, but learning that these quotes come from other sources rather than from interviews for this book is also a bit disappointing. The parts about his late daughter are heartbreaking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    False

    Not even a discography in the back... a list of hit records...nuthin'. A few of his ex-wives have been quoted as saying, "Burt only cares about Burt...and his money." I would say that's on target. A very sad tale surrounding his daughter with Angie Dickinson. Still. Some wonderful music. A wag said, "Who remembers the lyrics to a song (Hal David.) Seriously. Uh. Me. Mr. David was wonderful. He was short-changed in that pairing. Not even a discography in the back... a list of hit records...nuthin'. A few of his ex-wives have been quoted as saying, "Burt only cares about Burt...and his money." I would say that's on target. A very sad tale surrounding his daughter with Angie Dickinson. Still. Some wonderful music. A wag said, "Who remembers the lyrics to a song (Hal David.) Seriously. Uh. Me. Mr. David was wonderful. He was short-changed in that pairing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael Romeo Talks Books

    I was turned off but Bachrach's views on women. He constantly values them for their looks and breast size, referring to women he finds unattractive as "dogs" and comments that the cows in the field were more tempting than the women of a particular country. He boasts about his womanizing and his many marital affairs. Oh, and there's some stuff about his music, but by the time it came around I was so turned off by his character that I didn't care. I was turned off but Bachrach's views on women. He constantly values them for their looks and breast size, referring to women he finds unattractive as "dogs" and comments that the cows in the field were more tempting than the women of a particular country. He boasts about his womanizing and his many marital affairs. Oh, and there's some stuff about his music, but by the time it came around I was so turned off by his character that I didn't care.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mediaman

    This oddly-structured book ends up being an interesting read about a not-very-nice guy. It's actually more of an oral history, with Bacharach's self-congratulatory sections the least interesting portions. What makes the book worth reading are the comments quoted in full paragraphs from others in his life, including his ex-wives who expose how incredibly self-centered the composer is. This is not a book that makes the songwriter look good, because it uncovers his numerous affairs, cheating on his This oddly-structured book ends up being an interesting read about a not-very-nice guy. It's actually more of an oral history, with Bacharach's self-congratulatory sections the least interesting portions. What makes the book worth reading are the comments quoted in full paragraphs from others in his life, including his ex-wives who expose how incredibly self-centered the composer is. This is not a book that makes the songwriter look good, because it uncovers his numerous affairs, cheating on his wives, ignoring his children, and his "problem" with taking drugs. Bacharach always describes things in the most positive terms, so he doesn't apologize for the adultery nor for abandoning his children nor for being an addict (which he never admits). He just glibly tosses aside that he does dope, can't go to sleep without medication, didn't know what to do with his children, is hooked on horse racing, and fell in love with women the first time he'd see them even though he was married. There are also a number of lawsuits and collaborator break-ups that he never resolves in the book, but it's obvious that this guy is full of himself and others had a difficult time working with him. There are also some grenades thrown at others. Bacharach and the other voices in the book take well-deserved slams at Dionne Warwick, try to diminish the credit Hal David receives for the compositions, and at points turn the book into an anti-Bush, pro-Obama political rant. While it's entertaining, the longer the book goes the less you like the composer. His worst quality appears to be his inability to father his children, not accepting the fact that he needs to be there instead of flying all over the world or staying up all night in recording sessions. One of the saddest quotes is when his third wife says that though Bacharach was a lousy husband he was a great father because "there wasn't as single night when, wherever Burt was, he didn't call him (his son) to say good night." Wow--a couple minutes on the phone each night with his boy--that's quite a parent! Which leads to the most difficult part of the book--the suicide of his firstborn child that he had with second wife Angie Dickinson named Nikki. The book opens with his profession of love for her and it details the girl's mental struggles, including Burt's insistence on putting her in a facility in Minnesota for ten years as a young adult. The daughter's cries of just wanting her father to be with her are ignored. Angie even writes at one point that the only way Nikki improved was when Angie quit work and stayed with her every moment; meanwhile Burt was flying around the world banging other women saying he didn't know what else to do for his kid. The solution was in the final letter the girl left her father--that she just wanted him to be around! But Bacharach won't admit it, blaming Nikki's problems on bad doctors. This guy comes across as too self-centered to be a decent parent, husband or even composing partner. The book's title, based on one of his less-successful songs, is ironic since it appears Burt has no real heart for anything but himself and his songs.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nick Duretta

    Bacharach is one of my idols, so I devoured this one pretty quick. The subtitle is "My Life and Music," and fortunately, there's plenty about his brilliant music in here (his songwriting style, habits, inspirations, etc.) and the artists who sang his songs. The "life" part is fairly interesting, too, given his high-profile marriages to Angie Dickinson and Carole Bayer Sager. The book's structure is interesting in that both Dickinson and Sager (and many others) are given opportunities to comment Bacharach is one of my idols, so I devoured this one pretty quick. The subtitle is "My Life and Music," and fortunately, there's plenty about his brilliant music in here (his songwriting style, habits, inspirations, etc.) and the artists who sang his songs. The "life" part is fairly interesting, too, given his high-profile marriages to Angie Dickinson and Carole Bayer Sager. The book's structure is interesting in that both Dickinson and Sager (and many others) are given opportunities to comment on, and sometimes refute, Bacharach's recollections. Normally this would have bugged me but it seems to work here. Bacharach comes across as complex, occasionally difficult (and demanding), but basically a good man. He admits to many missteps he feels he's made, so this reads like a confessional at times. But, at 85, he seems (and claims he is) happy--and still writing!

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    Because I grew up with these songs and still play a lot of them as a musician, I enjoyed reading this book and getting the back story on how many of my favorite songs came about. Bacharach and his co-writer Hal David produced some of the most memorable songs of our era... but like sausages, its not always pretty seeing how they are made. Bacharach was a colorful figure and he would be the first to admit he made some mistakes in his personal life. Nevertheless, its a enjoyable story with insights Because I grew up with these songs and still play a lot of them as a musician, I enjoyed reading this book and getting the back story on how many of my favorite songs came about. Bacharach and his co-writer Hal David produced some of the most memorable songs of our era... but like sausages, its not always pretty seeing how they are made. Bacharach was a colorful figure and he would be the first to admit he made some mistakes in his personal life. Nevertheless, its a enjoyable story with insights, interesting people and places, and great memories for me. P.S. Here's a short list of the performers he wrote for: The Carpenters, Dionne Warwick, Johnny Mathis, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, Cher, Herb Alpert, Steve Lawrence, Marlene Deitrich and many more. I can't list all the famous songs he wrote but they are listed here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burt_Bac....

  12. 4 out of 5

    Val

    A nice walk down memory lane for me-- always loved his & Hal David's music that touched me through the years. The book reveals Burt to have been a hugely talented but tortured musician/artist always seeking perfection. I give him points for admitting past mistakes & apologizing to those he hurt along the way. Most of all, my heart goes out with sincere condolences to him & Angie Dickinson on the loss of their beautiful daughter. A nice walk down memory lane for me-- always loved his & Hal David's music that touched me through the years. The book reveals Burt to have been a hugely talented but tortured musician/artist always seeking perfection. I give him points for admitting past mistakes & apologizing to those he hurt along the way. Most of all, my heart goes out with sincere condolences to him & Angie Dickinson on the loss of their beautiful daughter.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I grew up playing Bacharach & Hal David songs on the piano, so I was eager to read the autobiography. I really enjoyed reading the parts about his creative process and how he got songs made/recorded. His friendship with Marlene Dietrich was also interesting. It was enjoyable to read interviews about specific time periods from others who were there (i.e., Dionne Warwick) which added perspective.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Painfully honest accounts of Burt's life. Well written and fast paced. A few back-tracks in timeline but easy to follow. I am left with a deep sadness for all the lives Burt harmed by his immature selfishness and lack of commitment. Such a brilliant composer and yet so ignorant about personal relationships. Glad his current family is seemly intact. Painfully honest accounts of Burt's life. Well written and fast paced. A few back-tracks in timeline but easy to follow. I am left with a deep sadness for all the lives Burt harmed by his immature selfishness and lack of commitment. Such a brilliant composer and yet so ignorant about personal relationships. Glad his current family is seemly intact.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ward

    Some good anecdotes but there's something about the writing that still feels distant and impersonal-not enough depth in what was being said. Maybe that's just the way Burt Bacharach is? (Or it's the fault of the co-writer?) It was still worthwhile to read for his comments regarding how he writes music and his experiences in the recording studio. Some good anecdotes but there's something about the writing that still feels distant and impersonal-not enough depth in what was being said. Maybe that's just the way Burt Bacharach is? (Or it's the fault of the co-writer?) It was still worthwhile to read for his comments regarding how he writes music and his experiences in the recording studio.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ty Buckner

    A good book for a Bacharach or 70s music fan. Fairly typical celebrity memoir with some interesting insights about the music industry and Bacharach's successes and challenges. Pretty light reading that can be done in a few sittings. A good book for a Bacharach or 70s music fan. Fairly typical celebrity memoir with some interesting insights about the music industry and Bacharach's successes and challenges. Pretty light reading that can be done in a few sittings.

  17. 4 out of 5

    mmreads430

    Extremely honest account of his life and career, he was willing to revisit painful and joyous moments with equal candor. Fascinating peek behind the curtain of perhaps the greatest living American songwriter...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Very frank. Some great show biz stories. Reads like an oral history, which is not a knock at all. It moves quickly. Has a nice rhythm. Kinda like a Burt tune! Has some good interviews with people who know him so ultimately you get a pretty good sense of him.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicki

    I got to the end of disc two and I decided I really wasn't bothered about listening to the rest of this audiobook. All the author seemed to want to remember were his encounters with various women, some he referred to as dogs!! No thanks Mr Bacharach! I got to the end of disc two and I decided I really wasn't bothered about listening to the rest of this audiobook. All the author seemed to want to remember were his encounters with various women, some he referred to as dogs!! No thanks Mr Bacharach!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Graham Monkman

    At the end of the 50’s I remember listening to the Ted Heath Band playing Gershwin’s classic ballad ‘Love Is Here To Stay’ on a BBC broadcast. Ted observed that ‘they really don’t write them like that anymore’. And he had a point. The 40’s and 50’s had a somewhat dull output of popular music. The classic melodies of the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael and Irving Berlin had given way to eminently forgettable novelty numbers, such as ‘Sparrow In The Treetop’, ‘She Wears At the end of the 50’s I remember listening to the Ted Heath Band playing Gershwin’s classic ballad ‘Love Is Here To Stay’ on a BBC broadcast. Ted observed that ‘they really don’t write them like that anymore’. And he had a point. The 40’s and 50’s had a somewhat dull output of popular music. The classic melodies of the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael and Irving Berlin had given way to eminently forgettable novelty numbers, such as ‘Sparrow In The Treetop’, ‘She Wears Red Feathers and a Huly Huly Skirt, and If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a Cake.’ But a few years later, popular music had returned to its former glory in the 20’s and 30’s– thanks to the genius of composer Burt Freeman Bacharach and his equally talented lyricist Hal David. Bacharach and David not only brought melody back to the hit parade, they also introduced new adventurous time signatures, sophisticated harmonies and though provoking lyrics. Their first big hit, ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ caused a sensation in the popular music world. It was followed by a string of further hits throughout the 60’s, many of which became standards, such as ‘Alfie’, ‘I Say A little Prayer’, ‘What The World Needs Now is Love’, ‘This Guys In Love With You’, ’Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head‘ ‘That’s What Friends Are For’, ‘Close To You’ and ‘The Look of Love’. Other hits like ‘The Windows of the World’ reflected the increasingly restless environment of the 60’s – a decade which saw assassinations, civil and political unrest, demonstrations against the Vietnam war, spy and sex scandals and ongoing tensions caused by the Cold War. By the time he wrote ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart in 2013, Bacharach songs had been recorded by more than 1,000 artists. By the same year, with Hal David, he had written 73 US and 52 UK Top 40 hits, placing them amongst the most important songwriters of 20th century popular music. Violinist Yehudi Menhuen’s mother said that ‘every life has a price’ and Burt Bacharach’s life more than proves the point. He failed to find love and had four failed marriages - he had some significant health issues, including insomnia - one of his daughters suffered from aspergers and committed suicide at the age of 41 – and following a rare failure with ‘Lost Horizons’, he was estranged for 18 years from both Hal David and singer Dionne Warwick - arguably the greatest interpreter of some of his finest compositions.. Naturally, he now regrets those wasted years and what might have been if he hadn’t been so stubborn. Bacharach comes across as a sex addict, and his exploits run through the book. While applauding Burt’s honesty about his sex life, I would have been happier if he had told us more about his music – what were his inspirations, what fellow musicians and composers he most admire - who did he regard as the best performers of his songs? The book tells us that jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie was one of his early heroes and that he greatly enjoyed saxist Stan Getz’s album of his music. He also admired George Gershwin. However, they are all only brief references. When he rejuvenated the hit parade in the early 60’s, I believe Bacharach inspired a whole new generation of composers not only in the same decade, but also into the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. Many were hard rockers like Elton John and Billy Joel, both of whom showed they also had a way with ballads. Then there were the beat groups like The Beach Boys and The Beatles, which gave birth to the impressive composing talents of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Maybe Burt’s famous ego stopped him from commenting on the work of these guys. I would also have appreciated his views on the way popular music has developed in the 21st Century. He certainly had some views on this, and it’s very apparent from the sleeve notes he wrote for Steve Tyrells’ album of standards which the latter cut in 1999: ‘Steve’s album arrives in a climate of machine driven music, rap, ear candy music go for the jugular vocal histrionics etc. So listening to this record is like opening a window and getting a breath of fresh air’. For all his success, Burt was not without his detractors. A lot of musicians complained that he used overly complex time signatures like 12/8 and 6/8, and many singers found it hard to cope with his demanding temperament at recording sessions. When he recorded Cilla Black singing ‘Alfie’, he was only happy after 29 takes. But in his search for perfection he was in good company. When asked his opinion of fellow jazz giant Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker replied ‘I like Brubeck, he’s a perfectionist, as I try to be.’ And Andre Previn’s biographer wrote: ‘Every sour note is always quickly corrected. He will never allow a horn to play a quarter if it is a crotchet which is required. Winston Churchill famously said ‘Perfection Spells Paralysis'. While there can be some truth in that, it certainly doesn’t apply to music. ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ is a stimulating and informative read. Burt Bacharach’s story is as colourful, unpredictable and inspiring as his music. His energy, creativity and commitment to music are as formidable as ever, and he is still composing and playing piano at the age of 93!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marianne Churchill/Johnson

    I agree with Kristen's review. I found him to be a jerk, albeit a talented one. I agree with Kristen's review. I found him to be a jerk, albeit a talented one.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    After the first couple of chapters, I thought I would be slightly annoyed with this book the same way I had been by a couple other memoirs I'd read recently. The same problem, which was popping up in all of the books, was that I got no significant information about how the celebrity developed their craft and got good at what made them famous. For example, in reading Anna Kendrick's "Scrappy Little Nobody", I learned about the theatrical experiences and movies that helped her along the path to fa After the first couple of chapters, I thought I would be slightly annoyed with this book the same way I had been by a couple other memoirs I'd read recently. The same problem, which was popping up in all of the books, was that I got no significant information about how the celebrity developed their craft and got good at what made them famous. For example, in reading Anna Kendrick's "Scrappy Little Nobody", I learned about the theatrical experiences and movies that helped her along the path to fame, but I didn't learn much at all about the process of acting, how she honed her skills, what the struggles were along the way and where she found her inspiration. The same thing occurred with Steve Martin's "Born Standing Up". I learned about his background and family life, but got no sense of how he became one of the funniest and most offbeat comedian/author/actor of his generation. From the way it unfurls on the page, he picked up a few jokes and performance bits along the way and turned that into a stage show that eventually got some acclaim. The jokes and bits he describes sound fairly unfuuny on the page but when you see him perform them, they are pretty crazy and then when you see other concerts and shows he did that aren't talkeed about in the book, you are desperate to know where the ideas came from. You get the sense of his "practice, practice, practice" efforts but nothing about where the inventiveness and imagination came from, how he plucked absurdity out of the lonely, plodding lifestyle he discusses in the book. In Burt Bacharch's book, the same trend occurs in the first few chapters. We hear Burt grumble about having to take piano lessons and practice all the time and how he didn't enjoy it. Then suddenly he is in college composing symphonies for multiple instruments. How did he learn how to compose for a violin and oboe when we only heard him talk about piano lessons. Then shortly after that, he is writing songs for a living and becomes a celebrated musician. Where did he learn to compse for all these different instruments? When did he decided he wanted to pursue music as a living? How did he start writing songs and what was process as he started out? Once I suspended my disbelief however and just accepted that he was now a musician and songwriter, I was able to enjoy the rest of the book because it does a good job of detailing the major events of Burt's life and how he created his body of work. One thing I really liked was how he includes selections from other people in his life that shed more light on what Burt was like. He does a surprisingly good job of describing his faults and taking ownership for most of his failures as a person (except the womanizing which is presented without apology or understanding) but the selections from the other people help put it in context, and sometimes doing a better job of verbalizing things. (I can see why Hal David did the lyrics for the songs- Burt is fairly pedestrian in his prose while Hal David was a master with words and created indelible mental images with his lyrics.) Overall, I enjoyed the book once I got past the initial obstacle of his sudden blossoming into a full-fledged songwriter and performer. I wouldn't have minded another 50 pages because some songs and musicians don't get enough coverage, and of course the early childhood and adulthood could have been expanded on. Plus it needed to have a complete discography since it is hard to find anything comprehensive online.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erin McCarthy Greene

    There is an adage about how it is never a good idea to meet your heroes. Now I have "met" Burt Bacharach through his autobiography, and while I will always, always appreciate his music, I can safely say that he comes across a a royal pain in the neck, not anyone I would ever want to know personally. Thank goodness for the melodies. In fact, it was fun to have YouTube available to listen to particular recordings after he mentions them. What didn't I like about him? First of all, he talks about mos There is an adage about how it is never a good idea to meet your heroes. Now I have "met" Burt Bacharach through his autobiography, and while I will always, always appreciate his music, I can safely say that he comes across a a royal pain in the neck, not anyone I would ever want to know personally. Thank goodness for the melodies. In fact, it was fun to have YouTube available to listen to particular recordings after he mentions them. What didn't I like about him? First of all, he talks about most of the women in his life as if they were objects, body parts, there only to serve his needs, and his needs clearly always come first. He seems incapable of being faithful to his wives. Even the race horses he owns are only valuable to him as long as they are making him money. Bacharach's relationship with lyricist Hal David, which had its ups and downs, is framed through Bacharach's artistic needs. Yes, Hal David gets his due....and the man was a lyrical genius, as acknowledged by Bacharach....but David's plain, "dentist-like" persona always seems to remain in Bacharach's shadow as described here. Even when Bacharach praised David effusively when they received the Gershwin Award, readers might detect the slightest bit of insincerity, all because Bacharach has been so honest about all those he does not like...the tone of his narrative leaves questions. There is something detached, distant about Bacharach. How did this man have such lush, complex melodies inside? I wanted to feel saddened for him when he lost his first daughter, Nikki, to suicide, but he had so detached from her that feeling sympathy was nearly impossible. With his wives? Detached. Honestly, songwriting partner Elvis Costello comes across as the one person with whom Bacharach has the most solid working and personal relationship. His world was exciting to be immersed in for a couple of days, but I am now going to try to forget the man and stay tuned into the music and the lyrics' vivid stories.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Radigan

    You may dislike Burt Bacharach after reading this book, but give him props for not only telling everything and not trying to justify all his actions and attitudes, but giving voices to other people he had been involved with. Like other people who went into the entertainment industry, he grew up not fitting in with the people around him, and he hid his Jewish heritage, less out of fear of disapproval from the goyim, but because of his own family's problems with the Jewish community. Having played You may dislike Burt Bacharach after reading this book, but give him props for not only telling everything and not trying to justify all his actions and attitudes, but giving voices to other people he had been involved with. Like other people who went into the entertainment industry, he grew up not fitting in with the people around him, and he hid his Jewish heritage, less out of fear of disapproval from the goyim, but because of his own family's problems with the Jewish community. Having played piano since childhood, he would eventually pursue that as a career namely because he was not a good student or well-suited for any other career. Eventually getting breaks and meeting the right people, he would collaborate most famously with Hal David and Dionne Warwick, working his musicians and his recording people hard but also working himself hard to try to get everything the way he wanted exactly, and not always succeeding. His credits include the Broadway musical "Promises, Promises" and several movies, but his preference was for recorded music and touring and singing himself. He did have his flaws, including being poor at choosing wives and not being willing to work to keep his marriages alive, his poor handling of his premature and mentally damaged daughter Nikki, his feuding and breaking away from his collaborators (but eventually reconciling with them), and overall being too much of a perfectionist. He did have three children after Nikki but shockingly says almost nothing about them; it would have helped to know what sort of father he was to them. One thing I do have in common with him: we both disliked the movie "What's New, Pussycat?" which he had to write music for. As he had to repeatedly watch that movie to be able to compose the music for it, I can feel sorry for him on that basis.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Donnalee

    I read this a while back but just joined goodreads so it will be in this year's tally. I think he should never have been allowed to print it as is, for the sake of his reputation. He comes across as crass, tacky, lots of talk about women's breasts and sex in sniggery fashion, and insanely dysfunctional married homelife with Angie Dickinson trigger for violence and animal deaths and suicide . . . with a child so disturbed she killed the household pets over and over and ***the parents did not friggin I read this a while back but just joined goodreads so it will be in this year's tally. I think he should never have been allowed to print it as is, for the sake of his reputation. He comes across as crass, tacky, lots of talk about women's breasts and sex in sniggery fashion, and insanely dysfunctional married homelife with Angie Dickinson trigger for violence and animal deaths and suicide . . . with a child so disturbed she killed the household pets over and over and ***the parents did not friggin do anything but buy more for her to kill***--talk about profound near-criminally-bad judgment on their parts. She eventually was reported to have killed herself too, reportedly from 'Asperger's longterm effects', in a horrific way which was reported by the family as 'peaceful'--plastic bag and helium don't add up to anything other than horrific, so that sounds like more strange denial, almost as if they thought the facts would never come out. end of trigger The fumbly way all the horror was talked about, and the crassness about the bosoms etc., is not something one writes in an autobiography about what a great musician one is--very poor judgement. I wish I had never read it, since I had respect for some of the music, but wow talk about distasteful and creepy and depressing in every way possible--my most charitable guess is that he may have some cognitive decline and a coauthor or editor exploited it and kept it sensational and yuck instead of dignified.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan Rankin

    I too thought this would be very interesting read about someone whose talent and body of work I really admired. It was helpful to have excerpts in here from ex wives and work partners. That being said you come away with an overall dislike for someone who only cares about himself and despite leaving a trail of bodies behind him in most facets of his life - doesn’t feel much remorse. Maybe a little introspective but that’s it. In the end the marriage that is successful for him is the one that esse I too thought this would be very interesting read about someone whose talent and body of work I really admired. It was helpful to have excerpts in here from ex wives and work partners. That being said you come away with an overall dislike for someone who only cares about himself and despite leaving a trail of bodies behind him in most facets of his life - doesn’t feel much remorse. Maybe a little introspective but that’s it. In the end the marriage that is successful for him is the one that essentially lets him be entirely who he is and demands very little from him. The very last scene he is late getting ready for dinner with his two youngest children and wife while on vacation and he kept all of them waiting. They were irritated. What did he do? ‘cry because he was so happy to be with them?’ But not enough to not keep them waiting? He has photos in the book where it just says ‘Burt and his family’ but doesn’t even name them in the photo? I read a lot of biographies and like to learn from peoples experiences and humanize them. And we are all imperfect. This is a book about an imperfect and extremely difficult and trying person to live or work with and who will be that way to the bitter end. Do not recommend.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Carlson

    Grammy, Emmy and Oscar award winner, 2011 Gershwin Prize winner for popular music, songwriter Burt Bacharach derives the title of his memoir Anyone Who Had a Heart from the song he wrote for Dionne Warwick in 1964. Award winning journalist Robert Greenfield is listed as a co-contributor. This book is a slog into narcissism. Looking at the lyrics the title feels like a strange choice for a guy who clearly had a hard time being in love with one woman; his marriages to the lovely Carole Bayer Sager Grammy, Emmy and Oscar award winner, 2011 Gershwin Prize winner for popular music, songwriter Burt Bacharach derives the title of his memoir Anyone Who Had a Heart from the song he wrote for Dionne Warwick in 1964. Award winning journalist Robert Greenfield is listed as a co-contributor. This book is a slog into narcissism. Looking at the lyrics the title feels like a strange choice for a guy who clearly had a hard time being in love with one woman; his marriages to the lovely Carole Bayer Sager and actress Angie Dickinson were marred by infidelity and rudeness. Maybe Raindrop Keep Falling on My Head would have been a more appropriate choice for his memoir. The foreshadowing comes early when his own mother states he's not really marriage material. His mother did encourage him to play piano which probably saved him as he seems insecure much of the time. The other issue with this book is there are inserts from Sager, Dickinson, Myers etc which feel disjointed and the blurbs on the back of the book feel clipped. Even the acknowledgment section feels just like an inserted list. Too bad because many of the songs he wrote or co-wrote I really like.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Tanico

    I don't ever read biographies or auto biographies, but this was an exception. I grew up with Burt Bacharach music, and I consider he and Hal David one of the best, if not the best song writers ever. The book reads as if you are sitting there with Burt having a drink, and just chewing the fat about his career in music. While I know a lot about his music, reading where some of the inspiration came from, and how some of the songs were written was great. He does have personal information in there ab I don't ever read biographies or auto biographies, but this was an exception. I grew up with Burt Bacharach music, and I consider he and Hal David one of the best, if not the best song writers ever. The book reads as if you are sitting there with Burt having a drink, and just chewing the fat about his career in music. While I know a lot about his music, reading where some of the inspiration came from, and how some of the songs were written was great. He does have personal information in there about his marriages and children, none of which I knew as I followed the music, not the man growing up. If you say you don't know anything the man has written, just google his name and the words top40 hits. Read the list and say, "wow he wrote that?". A great read

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter O'Connor

    One of the finest composers of the last century? No question. One of the finest writers? Not so much. That said, 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' is still a fine little document written n the voice of the artist with a little interjection here and there from some of the key players. Even though an autobiography is more likely to sugar coat someone's past, it often seems like maybe he wasn't so nice a guy. Still, a massive player in an era when the songwriter was king and there are few books with a mere One of the finest composers of the last century? No question. One of the finest writers? Not so much. That said, 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' is still a fine little document written n the voice of the artist with a little interjection here and there from some of the key players. Even though an autobiography is more likely to sugar coat someone's past, it often seems like maybe he wasn't so nice a guy. Still, a massive player in an era when the songwriter was king and there are few books with a mere mention of a song title, have the ability to instantly conjure a melody so instantly. It is an easy read and if you want to know a little more about the man behind the music, this might be a place to start even though you are left with the feeling that there is a much bigger story to tell.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Thorner

    A juicy book, although Burt doesn't seem to have a filter. I winced a few times. Although he provides ample space for the people in his life to have their say, one wonders if lessons have indeed been learned by the way Bacharach contextualizes things. The sections describing the music are, as one would hope, spectacular. Reservedly recommended for classic, orchestral pop and rnb enthusiasts. A juicy book, although Burt doesn't seem to have a filter. I winced a few times. Although he provides ample space for the people in his life to have their say, one wonders if lessons have indeed been learned by the way Bacharach contextualizes things. The sections describing the music are, as one would hope, spectacular. Reservedly recommended for classic, orchestral pop and rnb enthusiasts.

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