After publishing that post about 1968 last week, I have to make a confession: I was a square in the 1960s. While the hippies and peaceniks of that generation were worshipping Jim Morrison and grooving to Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company, I was busy at the piano figuring out the arpeggio in Herb Alpert’s hit “This Guy’s in Love with You.”
By then I’d already been mesmerized by the woman in the whipped cream dress on the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass album cover. Now Herb was setting down his trumpet for a tune, and in 1968 he was singing those lyrics to me, an awkward pre-teen in the Chicago suburbs. And so, along with so many other pop music fans from that generation, I was sad to hear that Hal David, the man who wrote the lyrics to that song and oh so many others, had died last week.
On Friday, National Public Radio’s Fresh Air re-broadcast a 1997 interview with Hal David, and when Terry Gross asked which of his lyrics were his personal favorite, he didn’t even pause to think. “Alfie,” he said.
Alfie? For real? “Alfie”? Not “The Look of Love”? “Walk On By?” “I Say a Little Prayer”? Of course I had to leave the radio to look up the lyrics right away.
You know what? If you take the silly name “Alfie” out of that song, the words are beautiful. Downright insightful. I’ll leave you with the lyrics sans the word “Alfie” here — you can judge for yourself. And hey, if you want to admit to enjoying an easy listening tune from time to time back in the day, by all means leave a comment and fess up. I’d be particularly interested in hearing what your favorite Bacharach/David tune is.
What’s it all about?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about?
When you sort it out, are we meant to take more than we give?
or are we meant to be kind?And if only fools are kind, then I guess it’s wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, what will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, I know there’s something much more.
Something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love.
Without true love we just exist.
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing.
When you walk let your heart lead the way,
And you’ll find love any day.