Our Top 20 Burt Bacharach Songs List takes a look at the music of one of the most wondrous composers of all time. There is simply not enough adjectives in the English language to describe the talent and music of Burt Bacharach. For those of us who grew up in the second half of the 20th century, the music of Burt Bacharach served as the soundtrack to our lives. Hit after hit filled the airwaves, especially in the 1960s. The incredible vocal talents of so many great singers such as Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Tom Jones and so many more brought Burt Bacharach’s music alive. Burt Bacharach’s Songs have been covered by more artists than probably any other popular music songwriter in history. Over thousands of professionally signed major label recordings artists had covered Burt Bacharach Songs.
One can not compose a list of Burt Bacharach Songs without first mentioning all of his great songwriting partners. Burt Bacharach’s most important songwriting partner and the author of all those great lyrics that filled the Burt Bacharach songs of the 60s was the great Hal David. The brilliant lyricist who charmed our hearts first met Burt Bacharach at the legendary New York Brill Building. It was a place where songwriters like Carole King, Neil Diamond, Laura Nyro, and so many others composed the hits of our lifetimes. Burt Bacharach also had other songwriting partners through the years including Bob Hilliard, Bruce Roberts, Carole Bayer Sager, and Elvis Costello.
Burt Bacharach’s professional songwriting career began with his first hit song recorded by Mart Robbins in 1957 entitled “The Story of My Life.” It was a grand start for Burt Bacharach and Hal David as the song went straight to number one on the county music charts in the United States. The song even proved successful on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking all the way up to number fifteen. Over the next couple of years in the late 1950s and early 1960s Burt Bacharach and lyricists Hal David and Bob Hilliard would find commercial success with their songs being recorded and turned into hits by artists such as Gene Pitney, The Four Coins, Perry Como, Jane Morgan, The Avons, Gene McDaniels, The Drifters, The Shirelles and even the Dick Van Dyke.
The year 1961 would prove to be a major turning point in the career of Burt Bacharach. 1961 was the year Burt Bacharach discovered the vocal talents of Dionne Warwick. The songwriter and singer would put their talents together and celebrate a twenty year history together in which they scored twenty two top 40 hits and almost forty songs that charted on the pop charts. In simple terms, the pair made a lot of money together and a lot of people were happy from record companies, to record stores, to radio stations spreading their music across multiple cultures with huge success.
Burt Bacharach released his first album in 1965 entitled Hit Maker!: Burt Bacharach plays the Burt Bacharach Hits. The album featured half the members of Led Zeppelin as both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones performed on the record. The album was recorded in London. Burt Bacharach’s next two albums would also serve as film soundtracks entitled What’s New Pussycat? and After the Fox. In 1967, Burt Bacharach released the great alum Reach Out. 1967 was a busy year for Burt as he also released soundtrack albums to Casino Royale and On The Flip Side.
Burt Bacharach would score his second gold album of his young career in 1969 with the release of the album Make It Easy on Yourself. Burt Bacharach would finish of his incredible decade with two more album releases in 1969 including the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Film Soundtrack and the Original Broadway Cast Recording Promises, Promises.
Burt Bacharach would continue to release albums and have his songs recorded all through the 1970s, 80s, and onward. He continued to have multiple modern day hits scoring big with Arthur’s Theme and the huge 1985 hit “That’s What Friends Are For.” One of his later day great projects was an album of new songs he recorded and wrote with Elvis Costello in 1998 entitled Painted from Memory. The album won a Grammy Award. The two reunited in 2018 and wrote three new songs together that appeared on Elvis Costello’s new album.
With a career that has spanned five decades and earned six Grammy Awards, three Academy Awards and over one hundred top 40 hits combined between the United States and the United Kingdom, the word legendary does not seem to be enough of a word to describe Burt Bacharach’s success. In the end, for us, it’s not about his success, it’s about his songs….so many of them. We wish we could list a hundred of them but then the page would never load. So we have to be selective and that is tough. But, it’s also fun. So here are our top 20 Burt Bacharach songs.
# 20 – God Give Me Strength
We open up our top 20 Burt Bacharach songs with one of his most recent compositions entitled “God Give Me Strength.” This is a brilliant song that Burt Bacharach wrote with Elvis Costello. It was originally released on the album Painted From Memory in 1998. One of the greatest albums released in the past 30 years.
# 19 – That’s What Friends Are For
Remember how big of a hit this was in the late 80s? I bet you sang this once or twice at the end of a wedding party. The hit single featured Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Gladys Knight. It went all the way to number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
# 18 – A House Is Not a Home
Leave it to Luther Vandross to take this incredible Burt Bacharach song to a whole new level in 1981. The song was released on Luther Vandross’s debut album.
# 17 – Trains and Boats and Planes
This was just one of those really special Burt Bacharach songs. We present Burt Bacharach’s instrumental version here. The song was also a big hit in 1965 by Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas. And of course, Dionne Warwick recorded it in 1966 and brought it all the way to number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
# 16 – What’s New Pussycat?
Tom Jones had a lot of fun with this song in 1965. The man brought it all the way to number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.
# 15 – Alfie
Well, we can never leave off this one. It’s one of Burt Bacharach’s signature songs. Cher did it in 1966 but Warwick’s version in 1967 remains our favorite.
# 14 – One Less Bell to Answer
The Fifth Dimension was one of the greatest musical acts of the 1960s and 70s in interpreting other people’s music. They took this Burt Bacharach song all the way to number two in 1970 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
# 13 – Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)
This is one of the funniest movies we have ever seen in our lives. Dudley Moore was just off-the-charts incredible. Burt Bacharach along with Christopher Cross, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen wrote themselves a number one song with this one and the great Christopher Cross singing lead vocals.
# 12 – I’ll Never Fall in Love Again
# 11 – I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself
No one sang this one as amazing as Dusty Springfield did. Both Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick owned Burt’s songs with their fabulous interpretations of them. This one was released in 1964 by Dusty Springfield.
# 10 – Wishing And Hoping
Dusty Springfield was such a gem and one of the most loved singers of the 1960s and 70s. Dionne Warwick recorded the song first in 1963, however, it was Dusty Springfield’s version in 1964 that hit number 6 on the Billboard top 100.
# 9 – Always Something There To Remind Me
A lot of people like the Naked Eyes version of this song but we will always believe Sandie Shaw recorded the best version of this song back in 1964. This version was a huge hit in the United Kingdom where hit number one.
# 8 – Do You Know The Way To San Jose
This just may be the most fun Burt Bacharach song to sing along with.” This is another great Dionne Warwick recording released in 1968 that hit number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
# 7 – (They Long to Be) Close to You
The Carpenters nailed the best version of the classic Burt Bacharach song entitled (They Long to Be) Close to You. The song was originally released in 1963. However, The Carpenters version was issued in 1970 and it became a number one single on the US Billboard Hot 100.
# 6 – The Look Of Love
It’s really tough to pick a version of “The Look of Love,” to present here on this Burt Bacharach songs list because there have been so many great recordings of this classic Burt Bacharach song. However one of our favorite versions of all time was a recent version recorded by the brilliant Diana Krall.
# 5 -I’ll Say A Little Prayer
One of the greatest Burt Bacharach songs of all time was this great track “I’ll Say A Little Prayer.” It’s one of Burt’s songs that just keeps getting recorded over and over again.
# 4 – Walk On By
Who doesn’t love the amazing Dionne Warwick version of “Walk On By.” The song was released in 1964. It hit number six on the Billboard Top 100
# 3 – This Guy’s In Love With You
At the number three spot on our Burt Bacharach songs list is the great Burt Bacharach song entitled “This Guy’s In Love With You.” The song was released in 1968. The Herb Alpert recording of the song was a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100.
# 2 – Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
At the number two position on our Burt Bacharach songs list we present the Burt Bacharach song entitled “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.” The song was released in 1969. The B.J. Thomas recording of the song was a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song won like a million awards at the Grammys and Academy Awards in 1969.
# 1 – What The World Need Now Is Love
We close out our Burt Bacharach songs list with our favorite Burt Bacharach song of all time entitled “What The World Need Now Is Love.” The song was released in 1965. The Jackie DeShannon recording of the song was a hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number seven.
Updated May 25, 2023
Top 20 Burt Bacharach Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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