From Vanity Fair, July 1996.

What's New, Bacharach?

Burt's back and better than ever

In the 60s, Burt Bacharach wrote the songs that made Dionne Warwick and Tom Jones sing. Now current pop icons, from Oasis to Michael Stipe, are honoring the original piano man with tributes to his classic hits. To mark this new Bacharach moment, Burt and George Wayne do a duet.

George Wayne: Burt, before we go any, I must know what you think of Dionne and her psychic-psychobabble infomercials.

Burt Bacharach: Between you and me? [Sighs, long pause.] I guess it's something she reasoned she had a chance of making money at -- I hope.

G.W. I hear she's making millions.

B.B. Well, we don't talk about it much, George.

G.W. So vou mean you never talk about these commercials at all?

B.B. No. Hang on. I have to get this call. The ex-wife.

G.W. One of the many. [A five-minute wait] You're still friendly with your ex-wivcs? Which one was that, Carole Bayer Sager?

B.B. Yeah, we have a 10-year-old. You know, she bought that rocking chair from that [Jackie Onassis] auction.

G.W. Carole did? What's the story on that? Where's she gonna put it?

B.B. I don't know, George. Maybe she'll use it in the office.

G.W. Were, you and Dionne Warwick lovers during your very creative period of the 60s?

B.B. No, no, no. Never. We love each other, but we were never lovers. I never mix the two. I only did it one time, and that was with Carole.

G.W. Tell me a great Dietrich anecdote. You were her musical director.

B.B. I think the most amazing time was doing the concert in Israel with her. It was the early 60s, and it was just after the German tour. It was the first time she had gone back to Germany after the war. And we went to Israel after that. She sang in German, which was discouraged. No one was allowed to speak German onstage, no German films. And Marlene sang nine songs in German onstage in Tel Aviv. And it was one of the most emotional experiences ever. The dam broke. Everybody was crying. It was an emotional roller coaster.

G.W. What was it like being married to Angie Dickinson?

B.B. A terrific lady. Angie is the type of woman that would do anything for the man she loves. When I did that first movie,What's New, Pussycat?, she would get up in the middle of the night to change the film on my Moviola machine. In general, it's often a Libran quality, George.

G.W. You believe in astrology?

B.B. Oh yeah, for sure. Remember, I was with Dietrich. Anytime we flew anywhere, she had the dates checked out. I remember what convinced me was once we were in Brazil and she wanted to come back earlier, so she called the astrologer in California, and he told her not to take the earlier flight. Later we found out that flight had a crash landing in the Caribbean. That convinced me.

G.W. Pop music is having Burt Bacharach moment. A lot of current stars are paying you homage. From Oasis to Michael Stipe.

B.B. I'm very flattered. A lot of English groups especially. Actually, they knew me much more in England when I started out than here.

G.W. Are you a Pearl Jam or Green Day fan?

B.B. Driving around in my Lexus I I isten to a lot of interesting music. I listen to urban music, but I have a hard time listening to all that rap. I'm a melody person. The rap I do respond to has melodic hooks.

G.W. Which is ironic, because the Lexus is a status item in the world of rap.

B.B. The reality of it is that it is a great car. I've had this car now for seven years.

G.W. What are your three favorite Bacharach tunes?

B.B. "Alfie" would be one. "That's What Friends Are For," "Anyone Who a Heart."

G.W. What the world needs now is another Bacharach hit.

B.B. I second that.