Album: Here Where There Is Love (1966)
Charted: 15
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  • Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote this as the theme song for the 1966 movie Alfie. The musical questions asked in the opening stanza of lyrics are the questions that create the drama in the Oscar-nominated movie, which stared Michael Caine, Shelley Winters and Vivien Merchant.
  • This was included on Warwick's 1967 album Here Where There Is Love, which included three other hit singles: "I Don't Know What To Do With Myself," "Trains And Boats And Planes" and "What The World Needs Now Is Love." Warwick was signed in the early 1960s to create demos for the songwriting team of Bacharach and David. Soon they let her cut her own records and the team began to hit the pop and R&B jackpots. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Garry - Anchorage, AK, for above 2
  • Burt Bacharach says of this song in Q Magazine October 2007: "With a song like Alfie, I had it all in the initial week. But I had 3 weeks before I had to turn it in and I kept fussing with it. A note here, a push there. You've got 3 and a half, 4 minutes, so there is no room for waste. Once it's there, you just try to make sure it's there."
  • Burt Bacharach (from Record Collector magazine): "'Alfie' could be as close to the best song Hal and I ever wrote. It was a hard one to write because most of it had to be said lyrically at first. I had to set it musically and it was challenging but it turned out great. We went in and recorded it quickly with Dionne because the original record was with Cher. Sonny (Bono) made the record with Cher and that was different than how I had envisioned it."
  • In the UK, Cilla Black's version, on which Bacharach himself played the piano, reached #9. Black's cover was produced by George Martin who was flexible enough to allow for the American songwriter's perfectionist ways. Bacharach explained to The Guardian October 18, 2008: "The first time I met George Martin he was in the booth at Abbey Road when we were making 'Alfie' with Cilla Black. He was such a gentleman and let me do my crazy thing. I don't know if you've seen or heard about that session with Cilla Black; we got to 28, 30 takes, 32 takes and you know what? We'd had it on about take three or four, but I believed in that thing of give me one more take, maybe we can make it better."
  • Stevie Wonder recorded a version in 1968 that went to #66 in the US. He was credited on the recording as Eivets Rednow - "Stevie Wonder" backward.
  • The song was recorded at Phil Ramone's A&R Studios in New York City, with Ramone serving as engineer. The studio was the epicenter of the Bossa Nova sound of the era; it's where the Quincy Jones album Big Band Bossa Nova and the song "The Girl From Ipanema" were recorded. "Alfie" was the first of many Dionne Warwick hits recorded there.
  • Barbra Streisand recorded this song and included it on her 1969 album What About Today. At her 2000 New Year's Day concert in Las Vegas, she told this story before performing the song:

    "One day a number of years ago I was in a cab on my way to a recording session and the radio was on. I heard this girl singing, and I thought, 'What a pretty song. Why haven't I recorded that?' When I arrived at the studio I called the station to find out who the girl was, and they said it was me. They said 'Barbra Streisand.' I guess I'd recorded so many albums and songs by that time that I actually forgot I sang that song. It's one of the most beautiful movie themes ever written by my friend, Burt Bacharach."
  • The line, "What will you lend on an old golden rule" is one that has baffled many listeners, including Barbra Streisand, who during rehearsals in 1999 refused to sing it until someone could explain to her what it meant. Her A&R man, Jay Landers, took action, calling the song's lyricist, Hal David, who was in China but got back to him right away (the prospect of Streisand singing his song was apparently quite an enticement).

    When asked about the line, David replied, "It doesn't mean anything." He was simply filling in words to Bacharach's melody, figuring he would change it later. Bacharach liked it though, so they left it in.

    When Landers got off the phone, he told Streisand, "It's one of those lines that's open to interpretation." That was good enough for her.
  • Cilla Black recalled in the ITV documentary Cilla: The Lost Tapes: "I was very much my own person. It took a long time to convince me to sing the theme song (for Alfie). I thought, 'Alfie is what you call your dog, or your budgie.' I said I'd do it if Burt Bacharach did the arrangement and played in the session - in London. He agreed to everything, so I couldn't back out. Mind you, I'm so pleased he did."

Comments: 10

  • Joe from New Orleans, Louisiana, UsaAmazing the lyricist says this line meant nothing: 'what will you lend on an old golden rule' .... the golden rule is widely accepted in most cultures (even among atheists) as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (as in treat others as you would like to be treated by them) -- a sentiment which fits perfectly with the overall challenge the song poses to its title character, Alfie, a self-centered, post-war, would-be playboy with a love-them-and-leave-them approach to women, even if he impregnates them. The song questions the meaning of life: 'what's it all about, alfie, is it just for the moment we live....are we meant to take more than we give or are we meant to be kind? ... and if only fools are kind, alfie, then i guess we are wise to be cruel, and if life belong only to the strong, alfie, what will you lend on an old golden rule?" the song inventories alfie's shallow, self-centered, self-justifying way of thinking and living to show how misguided and contrary to the golden rule he are many if not most other humans, especially the unwise when they are young. GEEZUZ ! How can the writer of such a lyric have stumbled stupidly into including it just to fill space and claim it had/has no meaning at all - it must be Divine Intervention that he wrote it at all .... or a demonstration that there is no god and everything is just random and accidental, including the most important message lyric of a great song.
  • Babbling Babette from Tulsa OkI've always loved this song, although I wasn't alive when it was released. Later in life, I inherited my big sister's record collection including the movie soundtrack LP (Cher's verson included) and then Dionne Warwick's single. I listened to both recordings. Both have great merits. My personal favorite is Warwick's version though. Her voice really did it for me. I'm a fan of both singers, but Warwick has such a unique vocal expertise it is just hands-down the best version for me.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 24th 1966, "Alfie" by Cher entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #62; and on August 21st, 1966 it peaked at #32 (for 1 week) and spent 6 weeks on the Top 100...
    The week that Cher's version peaked at #32, Britain's Cilla Black's version of the song entered the Top 100 at position #98, her version stayed on the chart for 3 weeks, peaking at #95...
    On March 12th, 1967 Dionne Warwick entered the Top 100 with her version, eventually it would peaked at #15...
    And in 1968 Eivets Rednow, actually Stevie Wonder spelled backwards, released an instrumental version, it reached #66.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, Ny"Alfie" was nominated for Best Song at the 1966 Academy Awards {Lost to "Born Free"}!!!
  • Jake from Lubbock, TxAccording to Dionne Warwick, Bacharach and David wanted her to record the song for the movie but the British producers of the movie wanted English singer Cilla Black. When the movie arrived here in the USA, it was distributed by United Artists and they wanted one of their singers (Cher) to record the song for the soundtrack. Dionne claims to be the 43rd person to record "Alfie" and the "only" one to have a hit record with it.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaNot to sidetrack this Ken, but Brian Epstein had many cleints besides the Beatles, including Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer, the Fourmost, the Cyrkle, and Cilla Black.
  • Larry from New York City, NyIt is funny how "THE BIGGEST" singer at the time get to record a track for new movie. Althought Cher's version wasn't sucessfully as Dionne Warwick's version, it still captured the mood of the time and the low key element of the movie. It wasn't supposed to be a love song, but someone who is brokenhearted by this man named "Alfie". Some day you should watch the movie and be open to Cher's version of this wonderful song.
  • Garrett from Nashville, TnBacharach and David are one of the most celebrated and successful songwriting teams in popular music history. Out of their many, many hits, BOTH usually cite this one as their #1 favorite.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyBacharach and David were not happy with Cher's soundtrack version and wanted Cilla Black (Brian Epstien's other client, besides the Beatles) to sing this, since they liked how she sang an earlier song of their's called "Anyone Who Had A Heart". Her version was a top-10 hit in the U.K. But Warwick's manager urged them to allow Dionne to sing the U.S. version. Ironically, Warwick had also done a version of "Anyone Who Had A Heart" in the U.S.

  • Todd from Atlanta, GaCher actually sang the song "Alfie" in the 1966 movie and is included on the movie soundtrack. Cher's version peaked at #32. When Dionne Warwick released her version about 9 months later, it charted higher and is now considered by many, but of course not all, to be the definitive version.
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