New Book by Eunice David Celebrates the Life and Songs of Hal David
February 15, 2017
He was President and distinguished member of ASCAP's Board of Directors, Chairman Emeritus of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and recipient of its inaugural Visionary Leadership Award, and was honored as Ambassador by the Society of Composers and Lyricists. Legendary lyricist Hal David expressed his celebration of life and love in all of the beautiful poetry of his classic songs. In her recently released book, Hal David: His Magic Moments, his widow Eunice David celebrates this unique and modest man who left such rich legacy for lovers, giving them the words which express the great themes of their own lives. Memorable anecdotes include how Hal came to write some of his most iconic songs, all set within the span of their world-wide travels and historic events. This beautiful novel covers their magical twenty-five years of marriage, which all began with a simple game of tennis.
He said he liked my backhand. I asked him what he did. That was my introduction to Hal David on October 28, 1987, a day that changed my life forever.
It’s amazing that my relationship with Hal got beyond that tennis match. My first gaffe was in thinking that his last name was Davis. When that was straightened out, I asked him what he did for a living. As if that weren’t bad enough, when he told me that he wrote songs, I asked if I might possibly know the names of any of the songs that he had written. With a perfectly straight face, he replied that there was a book that contained his lyrics, and he’d see that I got a copy of it.
For the whole time we played tennis and all during the dinner we went to afterwards, I had no idea who Hal David really was, but I enjoyed the easy camaraderie we had. It seemed as though I had known him forever. We got so caught up in our own conversation that we almost forgot that the couple who had introduced us was still with us. At the end of the evening, Hal asked for my phone number and said he’d like to call me.
With that, we went our separate ways, and I wondered if he really would call. He seemed like the sort of man who would follow through, but I’d heard that line before. Still, I drove home with a smile on my face, hoping that he would.
I was pleasantly surprised when my doorbell rang the next morning, and a messenger handed me the book of lyrics that Hal had promised: What the World Needs Now and Other Love Lyrics. Finally, I realized just whom it was I’d played tennis with. The last paragraph in his book read: “Reliving my career, I realize how lucky I am. To do well at something you would do for nothing is every man’s dream. It came true for me. I’m glad I’m a songwriter.” Having read that, I knew I’d met a happy man.
I called my youngest son, Donald Forester, to tell him about the previous night’s date with a very nice man who had a very strange profession: he was the songwriter who had written “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head.” Donald said, “Oh, Mom, don’t tell me you’re dating Burt Bacharach!” Frankly, I, too, thought Burt Bacharach had, written that - and so many other wonderful songs, songs that were among my all-time favorites. At the time I was not aware of how important the lyric writer is to the success of a song. That, I soon learned was a sore point with many lyricists.
Hal told a story about his brother Barnett who obviously never truly appreciated Hal’s talent. Bernie’s son was being Bar Mitzvah’d, and Hal was apparently the only David sibling who decided to attend the sacred event. So the D.J. made a big deal out of the Bar Mitzvah boy’s “famous Uncle Hal,” referring to Hal that way all through the evening. Finally, when it was time for the band to start playing, the D.J. announced that now they were going to play a medley of “famous Uncle Hal’s music.” With that, they proceeded to play only Mack David’s songs! (Mack wrote such songs as “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo,” “I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine,” and “Rain, Rain, Go Away”). Hal, understandably quite irked about that, asked Bernie why in the world they played Mack’s songs when Mack hadn’t even bothered to attend. Bernie replied that he didn’t think his guests would know Hal’s music!
Hal always strove for simplicity in his lyrics. He thought that Cole Porter was very sophisticated and described Irving Berlin as being earthy; he deemed Oscar Hammerstein poetic and found Lorenz Hart witty. But he pointed out that the one thing they all had in common was that their lyrics were the epitome of simplicity, in the best sense of the word. Of his favorite lyricist, Johnny Mercer, he said, “Whether he is being poetic or humorous, he is never complicated.” About his own lyrics Hal said that he liked to use everyday words and tried to paint a picture that conveyed what he felt. And about his longtime collaboration with Burt he said that they tried hard not to be contrived with their songs. He felt that a song should be so seamless that it should sound like one person wrote it, never giving away that it was a collaboration.
Hal David: His Magic Moments is available for purchase at www.dorrancebookstore.com.
* Songwriters Hall of Fame, ASCAP, and Society of Composers and Lyricists members receive 10% discount with code ASCAP10
The book is also available on www.amazon.com in either Kindle or hardcover formats.