Tunes on Tuesday: This House Is Empty Now

Why this tune?

This week we celebrate the life and work of the great American composer Burt Bacharach, who passed on Feb. 8, 2023. He’s best known for the many songs he wrote with lyricist Hal David in the 1960s, many performed first (and written for) Dionne Warwick. You’re sure to have heard “Walk On By,” ” I Say A Little Prayer” or “What The World Needs Now.” His style is distinctive, with beautiful and unpredictable melodies supported by complex harmonies and time signatures.

This week’s song comes from my favorite Bachrach project, his collaboration with Elvis Costello that resulted in the 1998 album “Painted From Memory.” I indulged in some songwriter geekery in this week’s video, to highlight a phrase in the bridge that is one of my favorite lines in any song anywhere, a masterful combination of words, melody and harmony (what the songwriters call “prosody”).

The line at the end of the bridge is “Does the extinguished candle / Care / About the darkness.” Listen how the melody rises through “Does the extinguished candle,” peaking at “Care” with a subtle shift in the harmony that amplifies the emotional punch of the line. The energy continues as the melody stays around the same note through the rest of the line.

Check out the original recording to hear the complete effect. And check out the rest of the album if you haven’t heard it (or even if you have). It’s a lovely, timeless musical work.

Tunes On Tuesday Reel

Check it out!

Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach

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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