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

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Kyler Corriveau, of the Eckville area, was found dead on Sunday southeast of Red Deer. Police are investigating his death as a homicide. (Contributed photo).
Young Red Deer homicide victim is remembered as a caring friend

Police are investigating Kyler Corriveau’s untimely death

Sylvan Lake Winter Village. File Photo
3 charged in connection to vandalism at Sylvan Lake Winter Village

Sylvan Lake RCMP were able to identify the suspects thanks to community assistance

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta long-term care residents remain priority in looming slowdown of COVID vaccine

There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read