Elvis Costello has shared what the late Burt Bacharach was like to work with in the studio.
The pair met in 1989 while working at the same recording studio, and continued working together for almost three decades.
Costello was discussing working on their 1998 joint album ‘Painted From Memory’ in an interview with The Times and said that Bacharach was “very considerate, but he won’t let anything get in the way of the music, and all the geniality and elegance on the surface of the songs hides the power at the heart of them”.
He continued: “Once he gets the shape of a melody he won’t negotiate. ‘Could I get a triplet, so I can use it against this three-syllable word?’ – ‘No, you can’t.’ After a while, the sheer rigour of his approach makes you fall into line.”
Such “chance encounters” like he and Bacharach had, Costello said, don’t happen today because most artists work and collaborate remotely. “These are the chance encounters that don’t happen today because now everyone makes albums on their laptops.
“I had been using a marimba with the same suspension as [that in the Bacharach classic] ’24 Hours from Tulsa’, as a gesture of acknowledgment really. He was down the hallway so I asked him to listen.” Costello said that Bacharach “was gentlemanly about it.”
Bacharach died on February 8 from natural causes at the age of 94. Commenting on the sad news of his death, Costello said: “I am very sad today. But Burt Bacharach means the same to me this morning as he did at midnight on Wednesday, when the call came. I have to accept that there will not be the next song that he — or even we — might still be about to write. I will always struggle to think of him in the past tense.”
A boxset of the music the pair worked on together, titled ‘The Songs of Bacharach and Costello’, will be available to buy from March 3.
Last weekend, Costello paid tribute to Bacharach at the opening night of his ten-night residency at The Gramercy Theatre by playing ‘Baby It’s You’.