Movin’ on from town to town

Moving — whether it’s across the street or across the country — can be a pretty big change. It can be stressful, exciting, cathartic, overwhelming, cleansing, heartbreaking.

We all do it at some point, for all kinds of reasons. We move out of our parents’ house to stretch our wings. We move to a new city to start a new job or career. We move out on toxic roommates or a bad marriage. We move in with a new lover. We move to a bigger (or smaller) house. We move to be closer to family.

I know a few people who have moved only once or twice in their entire lives. I know other folks who have had more than 50 different addresses.

I lived in four different places in Cleveland over 40 years. I moved to Atlanta for 17 years. I lived in three different places in Los Angeles over 11 years. Now I’ve recently moved from LA to a new home in Nashville.

I don’t like change. I resist it. I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into every big change in my life. But I adapt. I eventually embrace my new surroundings. I come to see it as a new chapter in my life’s story. I not only survive but thrive.

All of this talk of relocating got me thinking of songs about moving — new beginnings, fresh starts, something different. There are many dozens of choices, so I’ve whittled the list down to a diverse group of 12 tunes that deserve attention, plus an “honorable mentions” list.

Let’s get moving!


“(Just Like) Starting Over,” John Lennon, 1980

Lennon and his wife had shunned the public arena for nearly five years after the birth of their son Sean in 1975, choosing instead to stay squirreled away in their New York City apartment for the boy’s first five years. In 1980, Lennon felt the urge to write and record music once again, beginning a new chapter in his professional life, and the result was “Double Fantasy,” a collaborative John-Yoko album that alternated songs by each of them. They embraced the project enthusiastically, and the opening track and first single underscored how Lennon felt about this career move: “It’s time to spread our wings and fly, /Don’t let another day go by, my love, /It’ll be just like starting over…” Tragically, it would be his final chapter, his life cut short by a deranged assassin’s bullet only three weeks after the album was released.

“Moving,” Supergrass, 1999

From 1995-2005, Supergrass was one of England’s most successful rock bands, with five albums in the Top Ten, and seven Top Ten singles, including this compelling song from their third LP in 1999. Curiously, they made no impact in the US. Although its lyrics focus on the tedium a rock band experiences with non-stop touring, it can also be interpreted to bemoan the unpleasant aspects of continual relocation. Either way, the exhaustion and constant shifts inherent in moving is the point, shown in the numerous tempo shifts in the song’s arrangement: “Moving, just keep moving, /Well, I don’t know why to stay, /No ties to bind me, no reasons to remain, /So I’ll keep moving, just keep moving, /Well, I don’t know who I am, /No need to follow, there’s no way back again…”

“New Beginning,” Tracy Chapman, 1997

Many moves are sparked by the need to wipe the slate clean and start anew. The lyrics to Chapman’s 1997 album and title song “New Beginning” center on her belief that our society is broken, rife with inequality and injustice, and the only move is to “start all over.” It might be a radical, even revolutionary notion to tear the system down, but she’s hardly the first person to suggest it, and the idea of making a new beginning, whether it’s a new government or just a move to a new house, is full of optimism and promise: “Too many stand alone, there’s too much separation, /We can resolve to come together in the new beginning, /Start all over, start all over…”

“Movin’ Out,” Billy Joel, 1977

Born in The Bronx and raised in Hicksville on Long Island, Joel is proud of his working-class roots, and found himself growing frustrated by his peers who seemed ashamed of their ethnic authenticity by embracing upwardly mobile bourgeois aspirations. “It seemed as if the families in my old neighborhood were obsessed with materialistic displays of having ‘made it,’ and it made me both angry and sad,” Joel said in 1978. “I thought it was ultimately kind of futile.” The song he wrote about it, which reached #17 on the pop charts, takes aim at those who forget where they came from by moving too far away: “Who needs a house out in Hackensack? Is that all you get for your money? /And it seems such a waste of time if that’s what it’s all about, /Mama, if that’s movin’ up, then I’m movin’ out…”

“Here I Go Again,” Country Joe and The Fish, 1969

Joe McDonald and Barry “The Fish” Melton formed a duo that became a psychedelic folk and rock band in Berkeley in 1965, moving to San Francisco to become regulars on the circuit at the Avalon and Fillmore ballrooms there. While much of their recorded catalog focused on counterculture issues like antiwar protests and the free speech movement, including the infamous “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” made famous in the 1970 “Woodstock” film, the group had a few relationship-breakup songs in their repertoire as well: “I know once again that there is nothing we can save, /So I’ll pack up my things, I’ll be on my way, /Yes, here I go again, off down the road again, /Thinking thoughts of days gone by…”

“I’m Movin’ On,” Elvis Presley, 1969

First recorded and written by country star Hank Snow in 1950, Presley recorded “I’m Movin’ On” for his celebrated “From Elvis in Memphis” album that came in the wake of his 1968 TV comeback special. He was enamored by American Sound, a Memphis studio that specialized in a “country soul” genre popularized by their house band, The Memphis Boys, and these sessions produced “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds,” two of Presley’s biggest hits in years. The lyrics of “I’m Movin’ On” center on a man’s need to leave a relationship when his woman is ignoring or disrespecting him: “Well, I told you, baby, from time to time, /But you just wouldn’t listen or pay me no mind, /And now I’m movin’ on, I’m rollin’ on, /I’m through with you, too bad you’re blue, but I’m movin’ on…”

“Changes,” Loggins and Messina, 1974

David Bowie’s iconic song “Changes” was an early milestone for him in 1971, and Yes issued a track called “Changes” in 1984, but for this list, I have chosen to feature Jim Messina’s effervescent song “Changes,” which appeared on the Loggins and Messina LP “Mother Lode” in 1974. His song focuses on the changes needed for an artist to go from a struggling dreamer to a hardworking touring musician “with your name in lights.” Said Messina in 2016, “The one thing I’ve learned about the music business is that it seems to change constantly. We’re always on the move.” Here’s a sample lyric: “Maybe some change is all that we need, /Change is coming to help us succeed, /Change happens every day…”

“Time to Move On,” Tom Petty, 1994

This fine tune has been described as “a lesser known masterpiece” in Petty’s solo repertoire. Originally released on his celebrated “Wildflowers” LP in the mid-’90s, it has since become one of the most popular Petty tracks on streaming services. Although it’s credited to Petty alone rather than with The Heartbreakers, band members nevertheless participated in the album’s recording sessions and performed the song in concert. Petty’s songwriting deftly addressed the theme of facing challenges and uncertainty on life’s road, especially the yearning we feel to not stay in one place for too long: “It’s time to move on, time to get going, /What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing, /But under my feet, baby, grass is growing, /It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going…”

“Leaving on a Jet Plane,” Peter, Paul & Mary, 1967

Originally titled “Babe, I Hate to Go,” this poignant 1966 song by John Denver was interpreted by some to be about a young man who’s heading off to serve in Vietnam. Or is it merely a guy who’s breaking up with his lover and moving to a new town? “To me,” said Denver years later, “it’s simply a sad song about separating, about the regret of leaving someone you care for a great deal.” Because it was Peter, Paul and Mary who recorded the song in 1967 and took it to the top of US pop charts at the end of 1969, many people don’t know Denver wrote it, and also released it himself: “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, /I’m standing here outside your door, /I hate to wake you up to say goodbye, /But the dawn is breakin’, it’s early morn, /Taxi’s waiting, he’s blowin’ his horn, /Already I’m so lonesome I could cry… /I’m leavin’ on a jet plane, I don’t know when I’ll be back again, /Oh babe, I hate to go…”

“I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town,” Ray Charles, 1961

Casey Bill Weldon was a country blues musician from Arkansas who was one of the earliest practitioners of the laptop slide guitar. He wrote and recorded upwards of 60 songs on small labels in the 1930s, most notably the often-covered “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town.” Count Basie and His Orchestra recorded the latter in 1942, and Quincy Jones arranged it for Ray Charles on the 1961 LP “Genius + Soul = Jazz.” Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and B.B. King included their versions on various live albums, as did The Allman Brothers Band in 1970. Weldon’s lyrics talk about moving out of the city to the far reaches of town to keep other men from coming around: “Well let me tell you, baby, I don’t need nobody always hanging around, /We’re gonna have a dozen children, and they all better look like me, /Lord, when we move, yeah, way back down on the outskirts of town…”

“Starting Over Again,” Dolly Parton, 1980

Bruce Sudano, who had just married Donna Summer in 1980, collaborated with her that year on a song he was writing about his parents’ divorce. “My parents had been married for 30 years when they decided to call it quits,” he recalls, “and the best way for me to work through that was to write about it.” The result was “Starting Over Again,” which Summer recorded, but when she offered it to Dolly Parton, the country star released it as the lead single from her “Dolly, Dolly, Dolly” LP, and it reached #1 on the country charts and even made the pop charts at a modest #36: “Starting over again, where should they begin? /’Cause they’ve never been out on their own, /Starting over again, /Where do you begin when your dreams are all shattered, and the kids are all grown, /And the whole world cries?…”

“On the Road to Find Out,” Cat Stevens, 1970

Stevens had begun his career as a songwriter and recording artist when he contracted tuberculosis at age 21 and almost died from it. “That gave me an entirely new perspective,” he recalled, “and I thought about where I was headed.” He took up meditation and yoga, learned about other religions and pursued a more spiritual path, which was reflected in the songs he would write for his breakthrough LP, “Tea For the Tillerman.” Perhaps the most reflective was “On the Road to Find Out,” which described the soul searching he was doing: “Well I left my happy home to see what I could find out, /I left my folk and friends with the aim to clear my mind out, /Well I hit the rowdy road, and many kinds I met there, /Many stories told me of the way to get there, /So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out, /There’s so much left to know, and I’m on the road to find out…”


Honorable mentions:

“I Gotta Move Out of This Neighborhood,” B. B. King, 1993; “Movin’ On,” Bad Company, 1974; “Gotta Move,” Barbra Streisand, 1963; “Starting Over,” Chris Stapleton, 2020; “People Gotta Move,” Gino Vannelli, 1974; “Moving On,” The Zombies, 2015; “Gonna Move,” Susan Tedeschi, 2002; “Moving On and Getting Over,” John Mayer, 2017; “You Gotta Move,” Aerosmith, 2004; “That’s It, I Quit, I’m Movin On,” Sam Cooke, 1962.


Forever, forever, you’ll stay in my heart

Upon hearing of Burt Bacharach’s death last week at age 93, and then immersing myself in his many dozens of songs recorded by numerous artists, I was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia.

I often get nostalgic — defined as “having a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past” — when I look through old photo albums, watch old movies or, most notably, hear music from my childhood. Music from the 1960s, when I was between ages five and fifteen, can really trigger vivid memories and warm remembrances.

I can’t truthfully say I was an enormous fan of Bacharach and the songs he created with longtime lyrics-writing partner Hal David. They seemed pleasant enough, but they seemed decidedly unhip to me. Songs like “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” or “Make It Easy On Yourself” may have been easy on the ears, but that’s because they were undeniably part of the “easy listening” genre my parents enjoyed. I was a Beatles devotée, and early rock and roll, and Motown, and electric blues. Bacharach’s music was pretty far removed from those musical styles.

So it was very interesting for me to discover how nostalgic I felt when I assembled the Spotify playlist you’ll find at the end of this essay. Song after song after song transported me to a simpler time when my hours were filled with riding bikes, playing catch, watching mindless TV shows or playing with HO racing cars.

Take Dionne Warwick’s treatment of “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” a US Top Ten hit in the spring of 1968. Listening to it again this past week made me realize how deceptively simple it is when, in fact, it’s quite a sophisticated piece of pop music. Bacharach used unpredictable chord progressions, syncopated rhythm patterns and irregular phrasing, influenced by jazz harmonics, while David’s lyrics told a marvelously poignant tale of a guy who moves to L.A. to become a big singer, finds no luck and must return home to San Jose. Anyone who has ever had to give up on a dream can relate.

Hal David, Dionne Warwick and Bacharach in 1965

In the many obituaries and tributes published in the past week, the Bacharach-David song that has been referenced most often is “What the World Needs Now is Love,” made famous in 1965 by Jackie DeShannon. It starts off kind of corny but settles into a dramatic melody with moving lyrics that have stood the test of time and are just as relevant in today’s divisive world as they were nearly 60 years ago when Vietnam, civil rights and assassinations were tearing the country apart.

And then there’s “I Say a Little Prayer,” which reached the Top Ten twice in versions by Warwick in 1967 and Aretha Franklin in 1968. David said he wrote the words from the perspective of a woman at home worrying about her soldier boyfriend in Vietnam, but he wanted to keep the lyrics more general to avoid any controversy.

These songs and many other Bacharach compositions are, without a doubt, “earworms” — irresistible little tunes that, once in your head, seem to be permanently lodged there. I found myself singing/humming “There’s Always Something There to Remind Me” and “Alfie” all damn day…and I didn’t mind in the least. I marinated in them.

My research into the Bacharach-David catalog revealed a number of things I hadn’t known:

I didn’t know they wrote “Baby It’s You,” the 1962 hit by The Shirelles that was covered by The Beatles on their debut LP.

It was news to me that they wrote “One Less Bell to Answer,” the #2 hit by The 5th Dimension in 1970.

Were you aware they wrote the title song to the 1965 Woody Allen film “What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones? I wasn’t.

They wrote two hits that qualify as quasi-western, both for Gene Pitney — “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance” in 1962 and “24 Hours From Tulsa” in 1963.

Written by Bacharach-David and first recorded in 1963, “(They Long to Be) Close to You” became the breakthrough #1 hit that launched the careers of Karen & Richard Carpenter in 1970.

Bacharach helped co-write “Heartlight,” Neil Diamond’s last Top Ten hit, with Diamond and Carole Bayer Sager in 1982.

Between 1962 and 1970, the names of Bacharach and David appeared on the US Top 40 nearly as often as Lennon and McCartney.

Bacharach was nominated FIVE Times for the Best Song Oscar, winning twice, for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Arthur’s Theme” from the 1981 comedy “Arthur.”

Bacharach’s music was recorded by many top artists of the era and more recent decades as well. You can hear loads of diverse covers of Bacharach songs by the likes of James Taylor, The Chambers Brothers, Patti Labelle, Naked Eyes, Tony Bennett, Idina Menzel, Christopher Cross, Cilla Black, Seal, Herb Alpert, Bobbie Gentry, Michael McDonald, Stan Getz, The White Stripes, Rod Stewart, B.J. Thomas, James Brown, Paul Carrack, Jeffrey Osborne, Diana Krall, Bobby Vinton, Greg Kihn, Stevie Wonder, Cher and Elvis Costello, among many others.


Born in 1928 in Kansas City, Bacharach grew up in Queens, where he learned cello, drums and piano at the encouragement of his mother, an amateur singer and pianist. While still a teen, Bacharach often sneaked into Manhattan jazz clubs to hear Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, who proved influential to his later musical stylings.

While serving in the Army, he met singer Vic Damone and ended up spending three years as a pianist and conductor for him.  Said Damone in 1997, “Burt was clearly bound to go out on his own.  He was an exceptionally talented, classically trained pianist, with very clear ideas on the musicality of songs, how they should be played, and what they should sound like.  I appreciated his musical gifts.”  Bacharach later served for five years as arranger, conductor and music director for the legendary Marlene Dietrich, accompanying her on tours until he decided he wanted to concentrate on songwriting.

He met Hal David at the famous Brill Building, the Manhattan songwriting hub where teams like Carole King and Gerry Goffin churned out hits for the teenage market, but Bacharach and David wrote more sophisticated stuff in the Cole Porter vein.  By the early ’60s, they had scored hits for Marty Robbins (“The Story of My Life”) and Perry Como (“Magic Moments”).  In 1963, singer Jerry Butler asked Bacharach to produce the session for his song “Make It Easy On Yourself,” and with that, his career as a producer was off and running.

In his obituary in The New York Times last week, writer Stephen Holden succinctly captured Bacharach’s niche:  “He was a pop composer, arranger, conductor, record producer and occasional singer whose hit songs in the 1960s distilled that decade’s mood of romantic optimism.  Because of the high gloss and apolitical stance of the songs he wrote (with David) during an era of confrontation and social upheaval, they were often dismissed as little more than background music by listeners who preferred the hard edge of rock or the intimacy of the singer-songwriter genre. But in hindsight, the Bacharach-David team ranks high in the pantheon of pop songwriting.”

Bacharach and Angie Dickinson in the 1970s

Bacharach seemed to be the epitome of sophisticated cool when he was paired to his vivacious second wife, actress Angie Dickinson, to whom he was married from 1965-1981. They were among Hollywood’s elite couples as both enjoyed star turns on the charts and on television.

The Bacharach-David team’s uncanny good fortune seemed to run out when they signed on to write the songs for the 1973 musical version of the classic film “Lost Horizon,” an unmitigated disaster with critics and at the box office. Bacharach let his ego get the better of him, blaming David for not supporting his attempts to wrest control from the film’s music people, effectively ending their partnership virtually overnight. He compounded his problems by reneging on a promised to produce Warwick’s next solo project, which caused estrangement between him and the most successful interpreter of his songs.

“Look, there’s no point in going over all the gory details,” Bacharach said in 1993, as he recalled the estrangement period. “It’s all behind us now. If I had to do it over again, I never, never would do it the same way.”  It took more than ten years, but they ended up mending their differences in 1986 when they combined forces on the hugely popular hit “That’s What Friends Are For,” Warwick’s collaborative effort with Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder that reached #1 and won multiple Grammy awards.

Bacharach, Dionne Warwick and Hal David in 1987

In a 1995 interview, Bacharach offered his thoughts on his songwriting process. “I didn’t want to make the songs the same way as they’d been done, so I’d split vocals and instrumentals and try to make it interesting. For me, it’s about the peaks and valleys of where a record can take you. You can tell a story and be able to be explosive one minute, then get quiet as kind of a satisfying resolution… It may be easy on the ears, but it’s anything but easy. The precise arrangements, the on-a-dime shifts in meter, and the mouthfuls of lyrics required to service all those notes have, over the years, proven challenging to singers and musicians.”

Bacharach added, “As a songwriter, I’ve been luckier than most. Many composers sit in a room by themselves and nobody knows what they look like. People may have heard some of their songs, but they never get to see them onstage or on television. Because I’ve also been a performer, I got to make a direct connection with people, and I’ve been very grateful about that.”

In 1997, he had enough self-deprecating humor to appear as himself singing “What the World Needs Now is Love” in the hit comedy “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” spoofing the ’60s James Bond cool vibe.

Rest in peace, Burt Bacharach. The world still needs “love sweet love” and will continue to sing along to your songs like the lovable, nostalgic earworms they are.


It was a challenge trying to decide which versions of Burt Bacharach’s classic songs to include on this playlist. In some cases, I’ve include two or even three different renditions to show the range of styles and arrangements out there.