As many of our readers know, this past weekend was darkened by the death of legendary lyricist Hal David (1921-2012). David’s collaborations with composer Burt Bacharach won countless awards, nominations, and accolades as he touched millions with his simple, honest, catchy, and moving lyrics. This past spring the Library of Congress was privileged to honor both Bacharach and David with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song – the first time the award has been presented to a songwriting duo (a wonderful nod to the award’s namesakes, the team of George and Ira Gershwin). As Librarian of Congress James H. Billington expressed in a statement on David’s passing this weekend, “Award-winning lyricist Hal David was an American songwriting treasure. His legacy of more than five decades of music has inspired fans, performers and other songwriters with its diversity and longevity. His storied partnership with Burt Bacharach yielded some of the most enduring and beloved songs of all time. The pairing of David’s lyrics with Bacharach’s music gave us powerful and memorable songs that have been embraced across generations. The world will remember Hal for his timeless and unforgettable lyrics that earned him countless awards and honors. However, his peers will also remember him for his leadership in the music industry as the former head of ASCAP and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He will be missed, but his rich body of work will be with us forever.”
Though David was unable to travel to Washington, DC last spring for his tribute concert and medal presentation, his spirit was very much a part of the celebration as performers such as Diana Krall, Sheryl Crow, and Stevie Wonder among others sang his words with love and admiration. If you did not get a chance to watch the tribute concert and awards presentation that took place at the White House, you can see the entire show here on PBS’s website. The Music Division’s collections are filled with sheet music featuring David’s timeless lyrics and will preserve his legacy for generations of composers, performers, and enthusiasts to come.