Thursday, January 9, 2014

Is Christopher Walken The Burt Bacharach Of Acting?

Furthering our mission to answer questions you never even thought to ask:

Christopher Walken has had a long and successful career and one of the things he is best known for is his odd speech pattern; hesitations, pauses, phrasing and offbeat word emphasis.  Here's an example from Catch Me If You Can:

Because of his distinctiveness, Walken is one of the actors most frequently subject to the impressions of his fellow actors such as Kevin Spacey and Kevin Pollak.

Recently, THC was listening to some old Burt Bacharach/Hal David tunes when the similarity to Walken's speech pattern struck me.  During the 1960s and 70s, Bacharach and David wrote a ton of hit songs; here is just a small sample:

Walk on By
Close To You
Wishin' and Hopin'
What The World Needs Now Is Love
What's New Pussycat?
I Say A Little Prayer
The Look of Love
This Guy's In Love With You
Do You Know The Way To San Jose?
Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
   (Burt & Hal)
Their favorite singer was Dionne Warwick for whom they wrote 22 Top 40 singles.  Hal David wrote the lyrics with Burt doing the music which was unusual with odd chord progressions, pauses, syncopation which resulted in unusual phrasing of David's lyrics.  It's the musical version of Walken's speech patterns but since Bacharach came first it would be unfair to ask if he's the Christopher Walken of music.

We'll take a typical Bacharach/David song to illustrate the patterns.  It's Anyone Who Had A Heart, a hit by Dionne Warwick in 1964 and one of my personal favorites from their catalogue.  Listen in particular to the end and you can hear the odd singing pattern required by the rhythmic changes.  It's just like listening to Walken dialogue! 
As long as we've talking about Christopher Walken let's take a couple of minutes and watch him in Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice.

1 comment:

  1. Dunno about Bacharach, but this reminded me of two epic characters played by Walken: the lost soldier in "Deer Hunter", and "King of New York". And of course, "True Romance"...and....and