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Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Walk On By"

Dionne Warwick - Walk On By (1964)

 Originally a B side until a New York DJ flipped it over and pushed her into stardom.

This record and Warwick's first Top Ten hit Anyone Who Had a Heart were both recorded in the same three hour period. The previous track was the title track for her second album, while this one was saved for her third. Walk On By has survived as an enduring pop standard, with covers recorded by diverse acts like UK punk band The Stranglers, American pop singer Cyndi Lauper, and funk legend Issac Hayes.

Writers Burt Bacharach and Hal David had worked with Dionne Warwick before on both of her previous albums. The two also produced and wrote virtually all of her subsequent albums. She was their artist and they were hers. This was one of more than a few songs where the lyrics are about a love that is not returned.

The arraignment is lush with strings and yet sparse when they drop out. There is a snare drum, but a lot of the percussion sound is a choked guitar giving that sharp sound with a little bit of tone. The bass guitar is subtle, and mostly doubles the piano. According to Bacharach he actually used two grand pianos to record the piano part. You can definitely hear the vibraphone, most clearly under the trumpet. I love that instrument, it's like a xylophone but mellower and ringing out smoother. When the strings do come in it's a whole new song, building it to a huge stage sound, rather than a small jazz club sound. The backup singers, multiple pianos and large sting section all coming together lift you up and make you think for just a moment that her story ends well, but it's not to be. When you hear the trumpet part, six notes, then five, I think that short simple part is her tears. just a few, not pouring down her face; she does still have her pride, foolish as it may be.

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