“By far, the most stressful day of my entire life": The unexpected story of This Guy's in Love With You, the Bacharach and David classic that reduced Noel Gallagher to a nervous wreck

Burt Bacharach At The Royal Festival Hall, London, Britain
(Image credit: Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

Anyone casting their eyes over the biggest-selling US singles in the summer of 1968 would have spotted a few songs that reflected the incendiary atmosphere of the times: Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild (No. 10), The Stones Jumpin’ Jack Flash (No. 7) and The Rascals’ People Got to Be Free (No. 3). 

This was a time of huge cultural upheaval: inner-city riots in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington DC following the assassination of Martin Luther King on 4 April; student protests in France; the assassination of Robert F Kennedy on 6 June; the Troubles in Northern Ireland; the ongoing Tet Offensive in Vietnam. The list goes on and on.

By complete contrast, sitting in the No. 1 slot was This Guy’s in Love With You, a lush, warm, easy-listening love song, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and performed by Herb Alpert. Despite its decidedly benign, carefree vibe, This Guy’s In Love With You is a stunning piece of song craftsmanship, created by one of the finest songwriting duos of all time. It’s a beguiling composition and a song that continues to engage and entrance six decades on from its creation.

A version of the song with different lyrics, entitled That Guy’s in Love, was then released by UK singer Danny Williams on his self-titled 1968 album, but it failed to chart

There are conflicting versions of how Herb Alpert came to record the Bacharach and David composition. Certainly, This Guy’s In Love With You was written and published by the duo on 15 June, 1967. A version of the song with different lyrics, entitled That Guy’s In Love, was then released by UK singer Danny Williams on his self-titled 1968 album, but it failed to chart. 

In Bacharach’s 2013 memoir Anyone Who Had A Heart, Alpert said the song had already been written when he approached Bacharach for new material to record.  “There’s a question I always ask great writers that I asked Burt that day over the phone: ‘Is there a song you have tucked away in your drawer or someplace or a song that didn’t get the right recording that you find yourself whistling in the shower?’. And he sent me This Girl’s in Love with You. I called Hal David in New York and asked him if he wouldn’t mind changing the gender.”

But in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1968, Alpert suggested that the song was in fact tailor-made on request, written by Bacharach in the weeks following their conversation.

“We were fishing around for something different to do on our television special and I asked Burt Bacharach if he would have time to write a song for me,” Alpert told the Los Angeles Times. “A couple of weeks later he sat down at the piano and sang ‘This Guy’s in Love With You’. I flipped out. I said this would be a hit if my mother sang it!”

This second version of events ties in with Bacharach’s own recollection. But however the song came into being, one thing is for sure: once Alpert had received the song he wasted no time in making it his own.

By the late 1960s, Herb Alpert was a hugely successful trumpeter, bandleader, singer entertainer and major music industry player. He had broken into the industry in the early 60s, writing and producing pop hits for artists such as Jan and Dean. He went on to form Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, an instrumental pop band that racked up a string of hits in the '60s, such as The Lonely Bull, which reached No. 6 in 1962.

Alpert released the song on a new record label he founded with Jerry Moss, called A&M, taking its name from the first letter of their respective surnames. A&M would go on to become the world’s largest independent label and in the years that followed its roster would include artists such as Supertramp, The Sex Pistols, The Human League, The Police and Janet Jackson and Sheryl Crow. 

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass’s 1965 album Whipped Cream & Other Delights reached No. 1 in 1965, outselling The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra. By 1968, when he came to record This Guy’s in Love With You, he was a music industry heavyweight and a household name.

Alpert originally had no intention of releasing This Guy’s in Love With You as a single. He wanted the song for a filmed sequence in a 1968 CBS Television Special entitled Beat of the Brass, featuring the Tijuana Brass. The show aired on 22 April, 1968, and the film was shown at the programme’s conclusion. It featured soft focus footage of Alpert singing This Guy’s in Love With You to his wife Sharon as they walked dreamily around a forest, through fields and along a beach in Malibu. 

He was a hugely talented trumpet player but not a natural singer. However, the conversational, half-spoken nature of the top line vocal melody and its limited range meant he could deliver a vocal performance that fitted seamlessly within the context of the song. 

As requested, Hal David had rewritten the lyrics. “It was a song he was going to sing to his wife, and the lyric was not quite appropriate for what he wanted to say,” recalled Hal David in Robin Platts’ 2003 book Burt Bacharach and Hal David: What The World Needs Now.

By the time the TV special had finished airing, the CBS network was inundated with thousands of phone calls from viewers enquiring about the song. The demand prompted Alpert to re-record This Guy’s in Love With You, with a slightly different vocal performance than the recording used on the film soundtrack. He released it as a single in May and by 22 June, 1968, it had reached No. 1. 

Left to right: composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David

Composer Burt Bacharach (left) and lyricist Hal David (Image credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

If you asked me when I got in my car leaving Gold Star Studios that night and thought this was ever gonna be a hit I would have said no way

The success of the song took Bacharach by surprise. “Herb was very hot and his band The Tijuana Brass was very hot. I was signed to A&M as an artist,” recalled Bacharach in Record Collector magazine. “There were great guys running the record company, Herb and Jerry . They asked me to do it, to write a song with Hal David, come in and write the arrangement and conduct the orchestra. I did it as a favour. If you asked me when I got in my car leaving Gold Star Studios that night and thought this was ever gonna be a hit I would have said no way. Then three or four weeks later it was No. 1. Wow!"

This was Alpert’s first No. 1, the first No. 1 for his company A&M and it was also Bacharach and David’s first No. 1 as writers. 

Lyrically, it’s a song of yearning, in which one person professes their undying love for another. “Cause I need your love / I want your love / Say you're in love / In love with this guy / If not, I'll just die / Tell me now, is it so? / Don't let me be the last to know / My hands are shakin' / Don't let my heart keep breakin.”

But it’s Bacharach’s unique jazz-infused chord structures that make it so compelling. From the strident orchestral bombast of horns and strings to delicately nuanced ‘hear-a-pin-drop’ passages of plaintive electric piano, it’s a stunning composition and arrangement.  

On one level, it’s classic lounge music, easy-listening fare best consumed with a cardigan, suede loafers and 30 square metres of shagpile. But it’s ultimately so much more. There’s an abiding melancholy within Bacharach’s structures, underpinned by a sense of hope and longing. 

Herb Alpert’s rendition of This Guy’s In Love With You remains the definitive version of the song but it was also covered by a number of other high profile artists. Nancy Sinatra was the first artist to switch the gender of the song’s protagonist back when she performed This Girl’s In Love With You on the Ed Sullivan Show on 26 May, 1968. That same year Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song in a live set in San Francisco and Dusty Springfield included it on her album Dusty… Definitely. 

Then in 1969, Dionne Warwick’s version of the song reached No. 7 in the US  charts. Sammy Davis Jr also recorded the track that same year.

Three decades on, in 1997, Faith No More performed a version of This Guy’s In Love With You during their Album of the Year tour. And in 1996. Noel Gallagher stepped out onto the stage at London’s Royal Festival Hall to sing a version of the song with Bacharach himself playing the piano. 

If I can get through that day, I can get through anything

Nole Gallagher

Gallagher is a longtime admirer of Bacharach, and they first met by chance when Gallagher was having a drink with John Lydon in a Santa Monica hotel.  

Bacharach later invited Gallagher to join him on stage at London’s Royal Festival Hall to sing a number. The song they chose was This Guy’s in Love With You,  which Gallagher called “one of my favourite songs of all time”. He reportedly said he used the song’s intro for Half A World Away. 

But when the day of the concert arrived, Gallagher was anxious. “By far, the most stressful day of my entire life,” he told Australian broadcaster ABC. “…If I can get through that day, I can get through anything.”

A lad from a council estate doesn’t normally get to do these things

Noel Gallagher

Gallagher’s fears were fuelled by the fact that he would be performing without a guitar. As it transpired, it is a beautifully-judged vocal performance from Gallagher, who later said it was one of the greatest moments of his life. “A lad from a council estate doesn’t normally get to do these things,” he observed.

When Bacharach died on 8 February 2023, Gallagher paid an emotional tribute to the singer-songwriter, posting on Instagram: “RIP Maestro,” he wrote. “It was a pleasure to have known you. NGX.” 

Neil Crossley

Neil Crossley is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The Times, The Independent and the FT. Neil is also a singer-songwriter, fronts the band Furlined and was a member of International Blue, a ‘pop croon collaboration’ produced by Tony Visconti.