Brill Building, New York City: Home of Haberdashers and Songwriters

They are a part of American music history. A great team of composers. Burt Bacharach and Hal David. With Bacharach composing the music, and David writing the words – to songs you all may know.

“What The World Needs Now Is Love”. Sung by Jackie DeShannon. Tom Jones’ “What’s New, Pussycat”. In May 2012, both, David and Bacharach were awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. At a tribute concert at the White House. Both looking back to a career of 6 decades.

The songwriters met in the very early 1960s – at a place called Brill Building. Originally, it’s an office building located at 1619 Broadway in Manhattan. North of Times Square. Built in 1931 as the Alan E. Lefcourt Building it became very famous for housing music industry offices – and studios.

The full story, a short documentary and more below/after the jump…

Although some of the most famous and popular music in American history its new name Brill Building came from another renter: A haberdasher store in the lowest of the 11 stories.

This house obviously was a special place, as songwriter Carol King described in the book “The Sociology of Rock” by Simon Frith (1978): “Every day we squeezed into our respective cubby holes with just enough room for a piano, a bench, and maybe a chair for the lyricist if you were lucky. You’d sit there and write and you could hear someone in the next cubby hole composing a song exactly like yours. The pressure in the Brill Building was really terrific — because Donny (Kirshner) would play one songwriter against another. He’d say: ‘We need a new smash hit’ — and we’d all go back and write a song and the next day we’d each audition for Bobby Vee’s producer.” [source]

Dive straight into this part of a BBC documentary about popular music and about the Brill sound…

(Video by the BBC and uploaded by mybesttoldmusicvideo)

While Burt Bacharach is still writing music and performing, his musical partner Hal David died in early September 2012, at the age of 91.

Additional reading:
“Top songs by Hal David and Burt Bacharach” at the Seattle Times
The US Rolling Stone about Hal David’s death in 2012

 

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