• Alfie
  • Pat Metheny
  • What's It All About

Neither Burt Bacharach nor Hal David was interested to write the song that would be used to promote the 1966 British film directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Michael Caine. After all, the title character’s name, Alfie, was considered a tad too pedestrian to be built into the lyric. In fact, even after the theme was written, Cilla Black, who was invited to record its vocals, reluctantly accepted to take on the job, exclaiming: “Alfie? You call your dog Alfie!”

But it was the movie’s message and how the story’s events compel an uncaring egotist to question his solitary life and very existence that moved Bacharach and David to complete the project. Lifting a line uttered by Caine’s character in the film, David opens with the question, “What’s it all about,” and Bacharach weaves in the music that he would soon call his favorite from among his body of work. The song title would ironically be the controversial name, ALFIE.

About 45 years later and who knows how many covers, jazz guitar great Pat Metheny recorded ALFIE in his 2011 solo album, WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT. Metheny recounts about the project which for the first time carries none of his original work, “Each tune has a real meaning to me musically. Of course, I am aware of the lyrics, but my focus is really on the actual notes and harmonies that make these pieces interesting to me as a musician. It is mostly about the way the chords move or the kind of feeling that I loved about the melody.”

While all the tracks in Metheny’s album speak to me, ALFIE seems most eloquent. Maybe Bacharach’s haunting raw material is to blame. But so is Metheny’s quiet reinterpretation, which succinctly captures the song’s introspective mood sans lyrics. Dreamy and ethereal, with multiple modulations and some reharmonization, Metheny makes ALFIE his own, but gives the music the power to provoke us all to do as the character in the movie does– rethink ourselves.

On February 12, 2012, Metheny’s WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT received a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album.

Anyone Who Had A Heart
  • Anyone Who Had A Heart
  • Dusty Springfield
  • A Girl Called Dusty

Dusty Springfield- Anyone Who Had A Heart

Anyone who ever loved,
Could look at me, and know that I love you
Anyone who ever dreamed,
Could look at me, and know I dream of you
Knowing I love you, so

Anyone who had a heart
Would take me, in his arms, and, love me too
You, couldn’t really have a heart,
And hurt me, like you hurt me,
And be so untrue
What am I to do?

Every time you go away,
I always say, this time it’s goodbye dear
Loving you the way I do,
I take you back
Without you I’d die dear
Knowing I love you, so…

No one could sing Bacharach/David like Dusty.


Legendary lyricist Hal David, responsible for such classics as “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Alfie," has passed away at the age of 91. Celebrate his legacy with Cyndi Lauper’s exquisite cover of "Walk On By,” which he originally wrote for Diane Warwick and which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame


BAM Brings Back the Best of 80s Independent Cinema — Films You Have to See From Jim Jarmusch to Bruce Weber

This Friday, one of BlackBook’s most anticipated film series of the summer begins as BAMcinématek kicks off their impressive six week program, Indie 80s. Highlighting the wealth of American independent cinema during the “neglected decade between the golden age of 70s New Hollywood and the indie boom of the 90s,” the series features a mix of beloved underdog classics and rarely seen gems from the decade’s fascinating filmic history. From Jim Jarmusch’s seminal sophomore film Stranger Than Paradise and David Lynch’s candy-covered nightmareBlue Velvet to Kathleen Collins’ lost wonder Losing Ground and Bruce Weber’s stunning jazz portrait Let’s Get Lost, Indie 80s explores the “textures of regional America” and uncovers “alternative histories to the supposed monoculture of the Reagan years, independent filmmakers of the 1980s offered up an edgy alternative to overblown Hollywood blockbusters and the straight-laced conservatism of the era.” With the good folks at BAMcinématek presenting  over 60 films from Friday (July 17) until August 27, you’re going to want to start clearing your calendar for these. Check out BlackBook’s 30 must-see Indie 80s films and get excited to fill the rest of your summer with movies that matter.

Luther Vandross: A House Is Not A Home - Live 1988


All time greatest.  Have great day!


Well, in writing songs, we – we’re always trying to be as good as we can be – try to be at our very best.  We’re not always at our very best.  I think that’s an impossibility for anyone.  And then there are time constraints when there are recording sessions to go into; films where the song has got to be produced in a given amount of time; and then the theater piece where it’s gotta go in very quickly.

So consequently, you let go of songs sometimes before it’s every bit as good as you hoped it would be.  I think with Alfie, in my case at least, that song came as close to being the way I wanted that – a song to be.

– Hal David on the favorite song he wrote, “Alfie” - performed in this video by Dionne Warwick on German TV in 1977