Hal David


Hal David (R) accepts his award from SCL President Dan Foliart.

Excerpted from Dan Foliart’s remarks at the SCL Ambassador induction ceremony December 8, 2008:

It’s difficult to know where to begin when discussing a career as vast, long lasting and successful as Hal David’s has been. I am pleased to say that Hal has become a friend over the last few years, but I feel that I have known him all of my life. There’s nothing unusual about that as everyone I know feels the same about Hal. That is simply because his lyrics have been in our living rooms, in our cars in Trains and Boats and Planes and of course in our hearts and will continue to be for as long as a song is sung.

Hal was born in New York City. He began having success with material written for bandleaders Sammy Kaye and Guy Lombardo. However, it was in 1957 that he met Burt Bacharach at Famous Music in the now legendary Brill Building and they began a collaboration that would provide some of the most memorable songs in the history of music. This book that I hold in my hand, What the World Needs Now and Other Love Lyrics was my bible through my college years and its tattered condition reflects the hours I spent absorbing these words, perhaps to the detriment of my other course study at Amherst. Hal has said that, “most often a lyric starts with a title.” Let me read just a few of these titles, it is almost uncomprehensable that one man could be responsible for the words to all of these gems. What the World Needs Now is Love, One Less Bell to Answer, Blue on Blue, Don’t Make me Over, The Windows of the World, A House is Not a Home, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Wives and Lovers, Walk on By, Only Love Can Break a Heart, A Message to Michael, There’s Always Something There to Remind Me, Anyone Who Had a Heart, Make it Easy on Yourself, I Say a Little Prayer, Reach Out for Me, Wishin’ and Hopin’, Do You Know the Way to San Jose, This Guys in Love With You, Close to You, and this is only a small sampling.

After this book was written, Hal has continued to add wonderful songs to the repertoire such as To All the Girls I Loved Before that Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias recorded and made first a Country Hit and then a Pop hit a few years back. His work in film has given us some of the most memorable movie songs of all time. Alfie, which his collaborator Burt Bacharach acknowledges as not only one of Hal’s best lyrics, but one of the greatest lyrics of all time. What’s New Pussycat, Lost Horizon, Casino Royale, which gave us the classic, The Look of Love, one of my personal favorite songs, The April Fools and of course Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which provided the Oscar winning song, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. A more perfect movie moment has never been created than the song accompanying Paul Newman and Katharine Ross riding the bike.

Hal and Burt’s Grammy and Tony nominated Broadway musical, Promises, Promises, besides giving us the rousing title song, also provided one of the most recorded song of all time, I’ll Never Fall in Love Again. Besides Burt Bacharach, Hal has collaborated with Sherman Edwards, with whom he wrote another one of my favorite songs, Broken Hearted Melody for Sarah Vaughn, also Lee Pockriss, Arthur Altman, Redd Evans, Don Rodney, John Barry, Henry Mancini and our newest Advisory Board member, John Cacavas.

In his busy schedule, he makes time for civic and charitable activities that include The New York City Food Bank. He is a member of the Artist’s Committee for Kennedy Center Honors, and he is a Founder of the Los Angeles Music Center as well serving on the Board of Governors of Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He also serves in an advisory capacity to the Society of Singers. He is a member of the Acquisitions Committee of the Whitney Museum in New York and is a member of the Board of Visitors Committee of Claremont University here in California.

Hal has stacked up countless awards and nominations at the Oscars, Golden Globes, Grammys and Laurel Awards. He is a member of Board of Directors of ASCAP, having formerly served as its President. He has been awarded numerous gold records. He has also been elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has been presented with their coveted Johnny Mercer Award. Just recently he was awarded the prestigious Grammy Trustees Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Lincoln College has presented Hal with a Doctor of Music Degree for his major contribution to American Music. Equally important to all of this… I can say there is not a finer human being around and if we as a society took his lyrics to heart, our world would certainly be a better place.

Excerpted from Arthur Hamilton’s remarks:

Songs become part of us. Like a neighborhood. Familiar – comfortable – interesting – stimulating. We can roam easily through our memories and stop here and there to rest and listen deeply. What a pleasure it is to know that we can find a Hal David song wherever we go. For every kind of memory we have, there is a Hal David lyric. His words say what all of us feel. And, they always surprise and amuse and delight us. For years, he and his collaborators have given us songs that stay in our hearts. Like streetsigns on a map, his songs tell us where we are and how it feels to win, to lose, to want, to wonder, to worry-– and also, how to get to San Jose. It is becasue of everything he is and everything his songs are that the Society of Composers & Lyricists is proud to name Hal David and SCL Ambassador.