In a western that revolves around two outlaws from the 19th century, don’t expect an ukulele-heavy song named to appear “Raindrops fall on my head.”
But more than 50 years ago Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s whimsical ditty starred in Paul Newman and Robert Redford‘s classic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which premiered on September 23, 1969.
Beloved, the song’s recording was so controversial at the time that studio manager and Redford – who broke out as a superstar with his performance as the engaging, sharp-shooting Sundance Kid – were the main critics of the song.
“I found out much later that the entire board at 20th Century Fox didn’t like the song, and neither did Robert Redford,” says Bacharach, 93. “But it felt right.”
Redford clears it up in a statement to the US TODAY.
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“When the film was released, I was very critical – how did the song fit into the film? It didn’t rain, “says Redford.” It seemed like a stupid idea at the time. How wrong I was because it turned out to be a huge hit. ”
History has proven that it was a good thing that director George Roy Hill insisted on keeping the song. “Raindrops” became a # 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit and earned Bacharach and David an Oscar in 1970. Bacharach received another Oscar for his score (two of the four Academy Awards “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” were taken home).
Bacharach understands the concerns. After all, the single was recorded by BJ Thomas, who died on Saturday aged 78, contain curious texts like: “Raindrops fall on my head / And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed / Nothing seems to fit.”
The inspiration struck the composer while watching the scene of Newman’s charming outlaw Butch Cassidy showing off his new bike to Sundance’s friend Etta Place (Katharine Ross) at a reticent moment in her outlaw existence.
“When Butch was driving, he looked like this. I kept listening to the melodic sound of the ukulele and the bike, and everything was very simple,” says Bacharach. “I put these dummy lyrics in the melody I wrote. I knew it didn’t make sense.”
Even after the song was written, the songwriters tried to westernize it. But “nothing beat” the dummy lyrics that became the song title.
“There’s no reason why the song should work, but I can’t explain it,” says film historian Leonard Maltin. “It’s catchy, quirky with ethereal lyrics and an unusual pace. But it’s so engaging. And when you look at these attractive people in a western setting, it all comes together.”
Bacharach says he didn’t notice any song reviews at the time, and Hill said nothing. “I didn’t get any weakness from him,” says Bacharach. “He never said, ‘This doesn’t work’ or ‘It’s too close to the edge.’ “”
“Raindrops” was released before the movie in 1969, and Bacharach recalls that the reaction to the premiere of “Butch Cassidy” was ecstatic when the scene played out. “The place broke out,” he recalls.
Months after his Oscar win, Bacharach met his friend Dick Zanuck, then President of 20th Century Fox, who told him about the fold with fellow board members and Redford.
The songwriter says he has never discussed the subject with Redford. But the star of the film, a founder of the Sundance Film Festival, saw the light. “The song still works today from a nostalgic point of view. All these years later, it still has resonance, “says Redford.
Bacharach keeps his two Oscars in the living room next to his 1981 Oscar for “Arthur’s Topic (Best That You Can Do)”.
“I go in every day and look at these two and appreciate them. They are never taken for granted,” he says. “I’m just proud that it happened. And it’s a very special film.”
Contributor: Kim Willis