Mission Immersion 13.0 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Make it Easy on Yourself by Burt Bacharach

A&M Records 1969

“THE PRESENT DAY COMPOSER REFUSES TO DIE!”Edgard Varese, 1921

I’m not going to pretend like I know who Edgard Varese is, but this quote, which was so carefully placed in the liner notes of countless Frank Zappa records, came to mind as I indulged in my first full-blown Burt Bacharach session. “Composer” is the only way to describe the man – he has a gift for being able to grasp those little snippets of melodic candidness that periodically float across the mind, and he always knows exactly what to do with them. This and his seemingly effortless knack for penning iconic melodies made Bacharach the go-to guy for soundtrack music back in the 60’s and 70’s, and almost anything in that era of the genre is either written by him or trying to emulate him.

The soundtrack for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid may include one of the most well-known songs in the free universe (“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”), but the film’s incidental music is the album’s real treasure. Regardless of whether you have seen the movie or not (sadly, I haven’t yet), Bacharach’s music conjures up such great mental images – it is alive and vibrant, and gives listeners a sense that whole other worlds are contained within just one tune. And if you need any more proof that Bacharach’s sound defined this era, look no further than “South American Getaway” and it’s brilliant, oft-imitated vocal arrangements. Granted, hearing “Raindrops” two-and-a-half times in the album’s duration is a bit much, but there are enough gems to make up for it.

A&M Records 1969

While Make it Easy on Yourself is a slightly different affair (a mix of album material as well as Bacharach-penned selections from the Broadway musical Promises, Promises), it’s similar as a listening experience. We still get a mix of incidental music along with more traditionally arranged songs, though there are more of the latter here. This album offers more insight into the older, slightly more uptight world of music in which sheet music still played an essential role. There’s a daunting feeling of perfection in every vocal take and a contrived quality to many of the lyrics that stifle the spirit of the music a bit, but there is still brilliance to be found. Simply put, Bacharach is one of our all-time greatest melody makers, and it seems he brings something special to anything he touches.

Side note: I’d like to expand on what I mentioned before about this “older world” of music. Aside from the fact that I would have gone crazy with boredom (we’ll save that for another discussion), I feel like I would not have been able to enjoy or even appreciate music of this kind had it not been for my involvement in school band and orchestra programs. When I think about how continued de-funding of these programs could eventually lead to the death of the memory of great music like this, it makes me sad and angry. These music programs may be seen as “nerdy” to some, but they are of the utmost importance to many. We need to do what we can to save them.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ****
Make it Easy on Yourself ***1/2

Listening Again? Yes for both

…and my favorite track from Make It Easy

SUPPORT ARTS FUNDING AT YOUR LOCAL SCHOOLS!

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One Response to “Mission Immersion 13.0 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Make it Easy on Yourself by Burt Bacharach”

  1. the leading advise: ‘keep silence when someone near you is alseep’ « Word and sentence Says:

    […] Mission Immersion 13.0 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Make it Easy on Yourself by Bu… (recordgeekheaven.wordpress.com) […]

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