What the World Needs Now Is Love
|"What the World Needs Now Is Love"|
|Single by Jackie DeShannon|
|from the album This Is Jackie DeShannon|
|A-side||What the World Needs Now Is Love|
|B-side||I Remember the Boy|
|Released||April 15, 1965|
|Genre||Folk rock, jazz, soul|
|Writer(s)||Hal David, Burt Bacharach|
"What the World Needs Now Is Love" is a 1965 popular song with lyrics by Hal David and music composed by Burt Bacharach. First recorded and made popular by Jackie DeShannon, it was released on April 15, 1965, on the Imperial label after a release on sister label Liberty records the previous month was canceled. The song reached number 7 on the US charts in May of that year.
The song was originally offered to Dionne Warwick, who turned it down at the time; though she later recorded it for her album Here Where There Is Love. (Warwick also recorded a second version in 1996, which scraped the lower reaches of the US Hot 100.) Bacharach initially did not believe in the song, and was reluctant to play it for DeShannon. DeShannon's version was recorded on March 23, 1965, at New York's Bell Sound studios.
It has been recorded or performed live by over 100 artists, including Carla Thomas, Tom Clay, The Staple Singers, Judy Garland, The Supremes, Cilla Black, The Chambers Brothers, McCoy Tyner, Barry Manilow, Jad Fair with Daniel Johnston, Ed Ames, Johnny Mathis, Zwan, Steve Tyrell, Luther Vandross, Andrea Ross, Aimee Mann, Rigmor Gustafsson, Stacey Kent, Mr. Bungle, The Young Americans, Rick Astley and Coldplay. It even made the country charts in a version by a little-known singer/songwriter, Ron Shaw, on the Pacific Challenger label in the late 1970s.
Tom Clay version
|"What the World Needs Now Is Love"|
|Single by Tom Clay|
|from the album What the World Needs Now Is Love|
|A-side||"What the World Needs Now Is Love"|
|Tom Clay singles chronology|
Disc jockey Tom Clay was working at radio station KGBS in Los Angeles, California, when he created the single "What the World Needs Now is Love/Abraham, Martin and John", a social commentary that became a surprise hit record that summer.
The song begins with a man asking a young boy to define such words as bigotry, segregation and hatred (to which the boy says he doesn't know); he says that prejudice is "when someone's sick". Following that is a soundbite of a drill sergeant leading a platoon into training, along with gunfire sound effects, after which are snippets of the two songs – both as recorded by The Blackberries, a session recording group. Interspersed are excerpts of speeches by John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, the eulogy after Robert's assassination by Ted Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and soundbites of news coverage of each one's assassination. The ending of the song is a reprise of the introduction.
In popular culture
"What the World Needs Now is Love" has been used in many film soundtracks, notably Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and For the Love of Fred (used as the film's closing theme song in both), Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, My Best Friend's Wedding, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Hot Shots!, Happy Gilmore, and Forrest Gump. In the Danish zodiac porn comedy I Jomfruens tegn (1973), an extended version is used for the hardcore underwater orgy that ends the film.
In June 1968, following the shooting of Robert Kennedy but before he died (approximately 26 hours), the Jackie DeShannon version was played over and over on Los Angeles radio stations as an audio vigil. This also continued for a few days following his death.
The first few notes of the song have also been used as a toteboard cue for the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.
A shortened version of the title is used in a biography of Burt Bacharach and Hal David by Robin Platts.
In the Philippines, it was also used as the theme song of an event dubbed as Close-Up Lovapalooza to break the record of most people kissing simultaneously in 10 seconds to celebrate Valentine's Day.
American experimental band Mr. Bungle covered the song live at least twice in 2000.
It was a top 5 song in American Idol season 2 in 2003.
Two versions of the song, one performed by Burt Bacharach himself, were played near the end of the film Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode used to play it as the last song for his DJ sets in 2004.
The song was used as the unofficial theme tune of the improvised BBC One drama series True Love (TV series), being played at the beginning of the episode, and at the end when the credits rolled.
The song contains the memorable lines:
- "What the world needs now is love, sweet love
- It's the only thing that there's just too little of..".
- Songfacts Accessed July 2008
- http://members.tripod.com/~jackiedeshannon/jdsas3.html Jackie de Shannon Discography]. Accessed July 2008
- Platts, Robin (2003) Burt Bacharach & Hal David: What the World Needs Now, Collector's Guide Publishing, ISBN 1-896522-77-7