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Bacharach: A New 'Auld Lang Syne?'


In the `We were wondering' category goes this question: Why are there a gazillion Christmas songs but only one New Year's song? In fact, ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, just announced the most performed holiday songs of the past five years and "Auld Lang Syne" didn't make the list by a long shot.

We thought we'd pose the question to one of America's premiere songwriters, Burt Bacharach.

Want a venture a guess?

Mr. BURT BACHARACH (Songwriter): I will. First of all, you've only got one night so it's not a performed song that can amount to anything because you've got such a small window. Christmas songs start getting played, oh, right after Thanksgiving, sometimes before. You know, there's a residual thing. I mean, we've all written Christmas songs. I've written a Christmas song called "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle." I think if you were to say to me, `OK. Write a new song for New Year's Eve,' I would say, `Why? It's a good one.'

I think "Auld Lang Syne" works fine. Of course it's not going to be the most performed song. Not even going to be close to being a performed song. You only have this one day and you only have one moment. At the stroke of midnight, it's gone.

ELLIOTT: But still that's like a huge moment. There are parties, resolutions, new starts, redemption. I would think that would all make for a great song.

Mr. BACHARACH: Well, it is a great song, but it is a small moment in the longevity of a song. You're not going...

ELLIOTT: So even though you're sitting there at a piano right now in the studios of KCRW in Santa Monica, I couldn't possibly ask you to come up with a little ditty for New Year's Eve?

Mr. BACHARACH: Well, it would probably in the mood that I'm in go to the greatest Christmas song I think. The song that touches my heart the most is "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and try to put something on there.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. BACHARACH: (Singing) Have yourself a merry--have yourself a happy healthy new year. Keep the thoughts just right.

Something like that, you know? Take a great melody, drop in New Year's, you know?

ELLIOTT: Thank you. Happy new year, Burt Bacharach.

Mr. BACHARACH: Don't you love that--don't you love that melody?


Mr. BACHARACH: Have yourself a very healthy happy new year. One more time.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. BACHARACH: (Singing) Have yourself a very healthy new year. Keep your thoughts all bright, with hopes for peace and laughter...

Yeah, something like that.

ELLIOTT: Burt Bacharach will join us again next Saturday to talk about his new album, a collection of political songs, really. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.