Burt Bacharach, the composer with the lyricist Hal David of "The Look of Love," "(They Long to Be) Close to You," and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," was once the subject of an article in an academic quarterly, though the larger social significance of those and his other pop hits of the 1960s and early 1970s would seem to be nil. Almost two years after Bacharach won a pair of Oscars for his work on the movie Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid, one for best original score and the other for "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Bruce A. Lohof's "The Bacharach Phenomenon: A Study in Popular Heroism" appeared in the Winter 1972 issue of Popular Music and Society, a journal at Bowling Green State University. Lohof discussed Bacharach's music in some detail, acknowledging its melodic sophistication and metrical complexity, but what most interested him was Bacharach's emergence as a "national idol"—a celebrity songwriter who was to his day what Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter had been to theirs.
According to Lohof, Bacharach met several of the criteria of popular (as opposed to classical) heroism that had been outlined by a sociologist named Orrin E. Klapp some twenty years earlier. Bacharach's two Oscars, along with a pair of 1970 Grammys, qualified as "formal recognition and honor." As for "the building up of an idealized image or legend of the hero," two television specials devoted to Bacharach and a