Cover Versions

What the World Needs Now

What the World Needs Now

Song: What the World Needs Now
Artist: Justin Hayward
Original artist: Jackie DeShannon


I discovered this version by Moody Blues lead singer Justin Hayward while diving down
one of the rabbit holes I often find myself in on the internet. You know the sort of thing…
you start by looking for the recipe of a Bloody Mary cocktail and, six clicks later, you end
up watching a Bacharach tribute concert and wondering how in hell’s name you got
there.
Tribute concerts are a great source of cover versions material. I have already featured
Adam Lambert’s rendition of Believe at a Cher tribute and Something (the song) from
the memorial concert for George Harrison.
The tribute – Burt Bacharach: A Life in Song was recorded in 2015 some eight years
before Burt’s death. It features several singers other than Hayward. Maybe the best
known among them are Joss Stone, Sophie Ellis-Bexter and Alfie Boe.
Hayward’s voice sounds a little frail to me in this performance, but perhaps that’s
deliberate and it’s still well worth a listen.

Jackie DeShannon’s original came out in 1965 at the height of America’s involvement in
Vietnam. Given the sentiments expressed in the lyrics it’s hardly surprising that the song
resonated with the US public. It peaked at No 7 in the Billboard Hot 100 and hit the top
spot north of the border in Canada. Last year DeShannon’s version was selected by the US
Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. 

The main melody and chorus of the song had been written in 1962 but Hal David
struggled with the lyrics for two years before he came up with the line: “Lord we Don’t
Need Another Mountain”. With that in place Bacharach said that the song “almost wrote
itself” and was completed in a matter of days.
The song was offered to Dionne Warwick but she turned it down as she felt it was “too
preachy”. Warwick would go on to record different versions later.
Bacharach often opened and closed live concerts with the song. He played it in a short
cameo as part of the film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. He even
performed it at The White House in front of Barack Obama and a select audience.

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