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15 Great Oscar-Winning Songs!: “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”

This is one of those songs which is pretty strongly tied to the era in which it was recorded. I personally can’t hear it without thinking of standing next to my Dad and singing it from the sheet music while he played the piano. It is forever associated with that part of the post-hippie era in which there was an attempt to create quite a lot of feel-good content. With Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid‘s October 1969 release date, the song seems like a sort of kick-off to the early 1970s, the decade which brought us the “Love Is…” comic strip and quite a few of our Cheesetastic Classics. The fact that it was written by one of the more honored and loved songwriting teams of the last fifty-plus years does go a long way to softening any scorn a person might be tempted to heap on it. Besides, it’s kind of an undeniable gem.

The songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David had been pumping out pop gems for acts like The Carpenters, Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, and The Shirelles since their first big seller “The Story of My Life” hit number 15 on the singles charts for Marty Robbins in 1957. Considering their towering position in the business, the crystalline charm of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” isn’t all that surprising.

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But according to singer BJ Thomas, radio programmers were resistant to playing it when it was first released. He claims that it wasn’t until the movie arrived in theaters and became a big hit that radio stations got with the program and gave “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” a shot…after which it shot to number one on the Billboard singles charts. It might have been mildly embarrassing for a singer who’d already had several hit songs (“Hooked on a Feeling” for one) on what he thought was his own steam to be given a leg up by the movie instead of the other way around.

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Other singers had been approached about recording the song, including Ray Stevens and perhaps Bob Dylan before the job went to Thomas, resulting in the biggest hit of his successful career, sitting at number one for four weeks. After the huge success of the song, it became popular with other performers as well. For example, here’s a video of the legendary Dean Martin singing it as a part of one of his television appearances.

Remember when the hosts of TV shows used to take a break and just sing you a song? I kind of miss that.

A whole scad of cover versions kept popping up, including those by Dionne Warwick, Johnny Mathis, Englebert Humperdinck, Andy Williams, and The Manic Street Preachers. Also, there’s this interesting recording by the King of Pop.

Burt Bacharach would go on to team with a few other writers to write the theme from Arthur and win another Best Original Song Oscar.

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Posted on February 15, 2017, in Awards, Movies, Nostalgia, Oscars and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I like the song quite a bit; I hear it in my head right now.

    Like

  2. Raindrops definitely takes me back to the 70’s. I don’t have any specific memories of it per se, but it’s one of those songs you would hear wherever you went. It makes me think of shopping with my mom at department stores like JCPenney where I’m sure it was piped in.

    It’s musical comfort food. Nothing wrong with that.

    I did not actually realize it was connected to a movie until I finally sat down and watched Butch and Sundance for the first time a few years back. I had seen clips, but never the whole movie. It’s aged reasonably well, but there’s no mistaking it for anything but a product of its time. I can see how it would have been revolutionary in 1969, but it’s a bit old fashioned now. Nothing wrong with that either.

    Like

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