Jackie DeShannon is a great songwriter. Her compositions include “(He’s) The Great Imposter” (The Fleetwoods), “Dum Dum” (Brenda Lee), “Bette Davis Eyes” (Kim Carnes), among others. However, she was in awe when legendary songwriting team Burt Bacharach and Hal David presented her with “What The World Needs Now Is Love.” And what a great part of Sixties pop music that song would be.
Bacharach and David were unsure about whether their composition was any good. Hal David remembers overcoming his struggles to write it while commuting: “One day on the ride to New York, it came to me. I wrote about all of the things that had to do with nature and what God gives us. I gave the lyrics to Burt and he wrote a fabulous melody.” And the song is indeed a prayer. Bacharach’s arrangement is both flamboyant and introspective. He begins with a simple lonely trombone and builds to a huge ending with strings, timpani and gospel choir. Then the record finishes quietly as the humble trombone echoes the melody.
“What the World Needs Now Is Love” had been offered to Dionne Warwick who turned it down at the time (she has since recorded it several times). At first Bacharach was reluctant to even play the song for Jackie DeShannon. Later, Hal David talked him into presenting the song to DeShannon who remembers, “I thought it was a match made in heaven. The minute Burt heard me singing it, he said, ‘Off to New York! We’re off to New York!’ That’s where we recorded the song.” It was recorded on March 23, 1965 at Bell Sound Studios in New York City. Released on April 15, 1965 on the Imperial label, the song reached number #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1965.