Watch Paul Gilbert pay tribute to the late, great Burt Bacharach with a solo guitar performance of God Give Me Strength

Paul Gilbert pays tribute to the late Burt Bacharach
(Image credit: Paul Gilbert/Instagram)

Paul Gilbert has posted a tribute to the late pop icon Burt Bacharach, an instrumental cover of God Give Me Strength, performed solo on his Ibanez Fireman signature guitar.

Bacharach teamed up with Elvis Costello in 1996 to write and record God Give Me Strength, which was originally released as part of the soundtrack to the Allison Anders musical, Grace Of My Heart, and was later included in the 1998 full-length studio album between the two artists, Painted From Memory.

Bacharach died of natural causes on Wednesday 8 February at his home in Los Angeles. He was 94.

Gilbert’s cover was originally shot as a video lesson for one of his students via the online guitar lessons platform ArtistWorks, but as a massive Bacharach fan, the Portland-based guitar virtuoso had to share it to a wider audience.

“I love Burt Bacharach,” wrote Gilbert on Instagram. “Listen to the original with Elvis Costello, and hold on to your heart.”

A player who burst onto the scene as a coltish young shredder who tried to persuade Shrapnel Records’ founder and supremo Mike Varney to put him forward for the vacant guitarist in Ozzy Osbourne’s band, aged 15, Gilbert is not a guitarist you might immediately associate with the soft-focus yet emotionally profound songwriting of Bacharach. 

But when you think of his melodic sensibility over the years, and then watch this performance – zero shred, zero frills, just chords, dynamics, and melody – it all makes sense.

As an artist, Gilbert has never been shy in giving his influences their due. On occasion, that will be the guitarists who inspired him, like when he sat down with MusicRadar to reveal the 10 guitarists who blew his mind. Or most recently with the release of Dio’s Holy Diver as a single, and the announcement that his next studio album will be a tribute to the great Ronnie James Dio

The Dio Album features rearranged covers of classic Dio tracks from all periods of his career, from Rainbow to Sabbath then with Dio. It gives Gilbert the opportunity to reinterpret one of metal’s greatest vocalist on slide guitar, and also to dig into the styles of Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore and Vivian Campbell.

Gilbert says the project gave him “serious chills”.

“These amazing riffs are the steel girders of the songs, upon which everything else rests,” he said. “It had been a while since I’d been this deep into metal rhythm guitar playing, and it felt like I was digging up gold nuggets of fire with a magic platinum shovel. All while wearing a star-covered wizard hat! The guitar solos in these songs came screaming from distant mountaintops. Ritchie, Tony, and Vivian set the standard breathtakingly high.”

The Dio Album finds Gilbert joined by drummer Bill Ray. All the electric and bass guitar is performed by Gilbert himself. The Dio Album is available to preorder now and ships 7 April through Music Theories.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.