Tunes on Tuesday: Alfie

Why this tune?

In this week leading up to Valentine’s Day, I’m taking a closer look at an unconventional love song, Alfie, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David to promote the 1966 film of the same name. In David’s lyrics, based on the movie script, the singer is speaking to the title character, a self-centered womanizer. She challenges him about his life and choices and encourages him to believe in love. “Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie”

Dig this detail!

It’s a complex message that is matched by a complex song, with unexpected twists and turns in the melody and harmony. It’s one of my favorite Bacharach tunes, and I’m not alone, judging from the over 300 versions that have been recorded. It’s popular among instrumentalists as well as vocalists. You can find two lovely versions below from Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Pat Metheny.

I admit I haven’t seen the original film but will look it up, in part for the score, which was composed by Sonny Rollins.

Hear the story

Check it out!

Dionne Warwick

Nancy Wilson

Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Pat Metheny

Published by Oren Levine

Jazz pianist and composer in Washington, DC. Also a digital product and technology professional working at a small DC nonprofit

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