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INTERVIEW WITH HAL DAVID - 2006


The following are the comments of this songwriter on his work with Elvis during the making of Kid Galahad and the songs he worked in for the soundtrack, namely, A Whistling Tune and Home is Where the Heart Is.

 


Legend:
Burt Bacharach with Hal David.

 

I thought Elvis was great. The first time I heard Elvis he was singing a song that my brother, Mack, wrote, called I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine. It was on Sun Records. When I first heard Elvis Presley on Sun Records - this was before he broke through in a big way - he just blew me away. I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine was published by Famous Music. The publisher was Eddie Wolpin. To the best of my knowledge, he sent the song down to Sam Phillips at Sun Records and Sam Phillips gave it to Elvis to record. My brother had never heard of Elvis Presley until that record came out. (laughs) Mack loved it. It was a great record.

 

Elvis was no accident. He was just very special. I hate to pat myself on the back but when I first met the Beatles in London they were just cracking through. I knew instinctively that they were fantastic. And I felt the same way about Elvis, that he was more than just gyro hips and stuff.

 

Elvis was a great singer. He was very distinctive in the way that he interpreted lyrics. In some ways he reminded me of Nat "King" Cole, who was a completely different kind of singer. If you're familiar with Nat "King" Cole he had his own subjective way of singing and getting a lyric out. You knew it was Nat "King" Cole and nobody else. And Presley was very much the same way. His rhythmic patterns and the way that he pronounced words was so distinctive that it was not like anybody else. He wasn't like Frank Sinatra who was a great interpreter. Elvis was just so damn distinctive. It probably came naturally for him.

 

I have a feeling that I have met Elvis once at the Aberbachs office in New York City in the Brill Building. Once you became a professional and you start to learn as you go along, with all of Elvis' natural talent, I think he grew all the time just by doing more and more. He had a great ear that told him what was right and what was wrong.

 

He did any kind of song, which made him a great artist. You'd put him with Sinatra who could do any kind of song. Elvis could be real and believable with any kind of song. He didn't restrict himself to any one style, never did.

 

I wrote two songs recorded by Elvis Presley, Home is Where the Heart Is and A Whistling Tune. They're not among Elvis' most famous songs, and it would be nice if they were. But I thought they were all very good songs and I loved the way he sang them.

 

Home is Where the Heart Is was written for the movie, Kid Galahad. It was a title that I thought of for the spot where it was supposed to go in the film. I didn't see the movie ahead of time. They sent a script to me and my co-writer, Sherman Edwards. We picked out the spots where they thought the songs should be and we wrote those songs.

 

I'm proud of Home is Where the Heart Is. I never let go of a song that I don't feel proud of. I don't show it to the people until it's good. I know intuitively when a song is done or when I've gone as far with it as I know how. We had the title and a couple of lines and then Sherman and I began to write the song. Sherman and I did a lot of work together. We sort of wrote the same way that I did with Burt Bacharach. We would sit in a room, and a little phrase would probably very often start the song or sometimes just a melody. In these particular cases the tiles of the songs came first because it had to fit something in the film. We worked fairly quickly when writing those songs. The songs were probably done in a few days. It was a thrill to see Kid Galahad for the first time and hear Home is Where the Heart Is in the picture. By this time Elvis was a very big star and it was the first time that I had written for him.

 

Elvis' rendition of Home is Where the Heart Is is beautiful and it's the only recording of that song, to the best of my knowledge. His version is very moving and I loved it when I saw the film. I was a big fan of Elvis and I'm still a big fan.

 

Elvis was the King of this period and anyone who really reigns in a given period of time is like Babe Ruth, you'll never forget him.


Source
: Writing for the King book, by Ken Sharp (Follow That Dream).

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