Elvis Costello Pays Musical Tribute to Burt Bacharach at NYC Residency Kickoff
Elvis Costello paid tribute to his longtime friend and collaborator Burt Bacharach Thursday night following news of the legendary songwriter’s death at the age of 94.
Bacharach’s death was announced just hours before Costello took the stage for the first of a 10-night residency at New York’s Gramercy Theater, and while the evening’s program was set to focus on the music he wrote in 1977 and earlier, Costello deviated from the setlist in order to remember the pop composer with whom he recorded 1998’s Painted From Memory.
“It’s been a tough day — I can’t deny,” Costello told the audience. “A really great man left us yesterday. And when somebody reached a great age, people say, ‘Well, it was a good ending.’ Yeah, it’s never time to say goodbye to somebody if you love them. I’m not ashamed to say I did love this man for everything he gave, Mr. Burt Bacharach.”
Costello — who will release an entire box set, The Songs of Bacharach & Costello, dedicated to their collaborations next month — added that a longer musical tribute to Bacharach will take place later on when his longtime pianist Steve Nieve joins the residency. “We will, of course, be delving into the songbook that Burt and I assembled over 30 years,” Costello said.
However, Costello did perform a pair of tracks in memory of Bacharach: A cover of the Beatles’ “Baby It’s You,” and a take on the Bacharach/Hal David-penned Dionne Warwick hit “Anyone Who Had a Heart.”
In January, Costello announced plans to release The Songs of Bacharach & Costello, a 4-LP box set featuring all of the duo’s published works as well as 19 previously unreleased recordings, including live performances and songs written from some unrealized musical projects.
“I first heard the songs of Burt Bacharach when my family was still living in a basement flat near Olympia in the late 1950s. Never would I have imagined that my admiration for him would grow into a 25-year collaboration and friendship,” Costello tweeted of the collaboration in January.
Bacharach died Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. Following his death, Dionne Warwick — the singer perhaps most associated with his and Hal David’s works — said in a statement, “Burt’s transition is like losing a family member. These words I’ve been asked to write are being written with sadness over the loss of my Dear Friend and my Musical Partner.”
Contributors: Kory Grow