Tunes on Tuesday: Alfie

Why this tune?

I’m still buzzing from this past weekend (Jan. 12-14, 2023), when I had the privilege of playing in the first Jazz At The Castle festival on St. Croix, opening for the superbly talented guitarist Pasquale Grasso. I shared almost an hour of solo piano tunes, including a couple of my original songs. This week’s tune is one of my favorites from the Burt Bacharach book, “Alfie.” I considered it for the festival set but didn’t include it in the end.

Bacharach and lyricist Hal David wrote the song for the 1966 film of the same name. The Wikipedia article on the song notes that Hal David wrote the lyrics first, working from the movie script. He summarized the plot about a self-centered womanizer with a wry third person lyric, questioning the cynicism of the title character and reminding him that “Without true love we just exist, Alfie / Until you find the love you’ve missed / You’re nothing, Alfie.”

Bacharach’s music complements the lyric beautifully and is a powerful statement even without the equally powerful lyric. I tried to keep the words in mind while playing my version.

Tunes On Tuesday Reel

Full track

Check out these recordings

Cilla Black, from the film soundtrack

Dionne Warwick

Bill Evans

Patricia Barber

Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Published by Oren Levine

Jazz pianist and composer from Washington, DC. Also a digital product and technology consultant currently working with nonprofit cllients

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