Burt Bacharach is at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley for a four-night run March 22-25.
You thank him for “Alfie.” You thank him for “I Say A Little Prayer” — especially the Aretha Franklin version. You thank him for the background music at your parents’ cocktail parties, for writing the songs your father used to sing in the car.
“Thank you,” Burt Bacharach says, again and again. “I don’t take it lightly.”
At 89, he knows the impact he’s made: Top 10 hits, movie soundtracks (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”; “Arthur’s Theme”). The songs he’s written, arranged, handed out (to The Carpenters, Dionne Warwick, Herb Alpert, among others) and marked upon our hearts.
And he’s still making more. In advance of his four-night run of shows at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley (March 22-25), Bacharach was home in California’s Pacific Palisades, tucked into his music room and writing a lead sheet for a new song.
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“I would like to say that I write every day or play the piano every day, but no,” he says. “It would be a good thing to do, to spend some time at the piano. I’ve always lived by that principle: Being in touch with music every day.
“If you can do that, you’re always getting your feet wet every day, you don’t know what will come from it,” he continues. “Maybe nothing. But if you improvise, maybe a lyric or a few bars.”
Sitting at the piano not only grounds him, Bacharach says, it keeps him off MSNBC and what he calls “the chaos that’s going on.”
It’s much the same when he performs, which Bacharach has been doing fairly regularly after breaking his arm in 2016. He was forced to postpone his tour, including an October 2016 run at Jazz Alley. But he made up for it just last July, when he arrived with a small orchestra and three backup singers who covered for Warwick and even Tom Jones (“What’s New, Pussycat?”). (His 25-year-old son, Oliver, sat in on piano for a couple of songs, as well.)
Every night was a sellout — and fuel for Bacharach, who will follow his upcoming Seattle shows with a trip to Pittsburgh to perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
The man — winner of six Grammys and three Oscars — can’t stop creating.
“Being on stage, if it grounds me and it makes me feel good …” he begins, then pauses. “It’s not rock and roll up there. We’re doing music from the heart.”
It’s almost a mission for him, calling his shows “outreach to the hearts of people who are having a bad day about what’s going on in the country.
“If I can touch people a little bit and make them feel something, to be moved …,” he says, his mind away for a moment. “Because I’m already moved by the fact that I’m making music. And if that makes a dent, I think I’ve done good.”
Along with writing new songs, Bacharach is eager to collaborate with other artists, as he did with Elvis Costello for the 1998 album, “Painted From Memory.”
He would love to work with John Legend.
“You can never tell how it’s going to unfold,” he said of collaborating. “The important thing is to keep writing.”
And playing the old songs that people hold in their hearts.
Like, say … ”Alfie”?
Bacharach let out a quiet laugh.
“We can’t leave that one out, can we?”
Burt Bacharach. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22-Sunday, March 25; Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle; $150, jazzalley.com.