|B-side "Let Me Be Lonely"|
Format 7" single
|Released April 1968|
Genre Soul, pop
|Recorded 1967 at Bell Sound Studios; engineer, Ed Smith|
"Do You Know the Way to San Jose" is a 1968 popular song written for singer Dionne Warwick by Burt Bacharach (music) and Hal David (lyrics). The song was Warwick's biggest international hit, selling over a million copies and winning Warwick her first Grammy Award. It tells the story of a native of San Jose, California who, having failed to break into the entertainment field in Los Angeles, is set to return to her hometown.
The song was released on the 1968 RIAA Certified Gold album Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls. "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" was issued as the follow-up single to the double-sided hit "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls"/ "I Say a Little Prayer" in April 1968. It became Warwick's third consecutive Top Ten song, punctuating the most successful period of Warwick's recording career.
The song peaked at #8 in the UK, Ireland, and Canada. It also charted in France, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and many other countries. The flip-side of the single, "Let Me Be Lonely," also penned by Bacharach/David, charted in the Billboard Hot 100 as well and became one of many double-sided hits for Warwick.
Burt Bacharach wrote the music for the song before Hal David wrote its lyrics. David had a special interest in San Jose, having been stationed there while in the Navy.
The track was the last Dionne Warwick single to be recorded at New York City's Bell Studios. It features a prominent use of bass drum, played by session musician Gary Chester. The engineer was Ed Smith, who devised the famous introduction to the tune by directly attaching a mike to the head of Chester's bass drum.
Dionne Warwick did not like "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" and had to be convinced to record it. In a May 1983 interview with Ebony, she said: "It's a dumb song and I didn't want to sing it. But it was a hit, just like [her recent Top Ten hit] 'Heartbreaker' is. I'm happy these songs were successful, but that still doesn't change my opinion about them." The song remains one of Warwick's most popular numbers and is included in almost every concert she performs.
Warwick won her first Grammy, the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, for "Do You Know the Way to San Jose". She told Jet in May 2002 that winning this award was the overall highlight of her career.
"Do You Know the Way to San Jose" has also been recorded by Connie Francis, Rita Reys, The George Shearing Quintet, The Avalanches, The Baja Marimba Band, The Temptations and The Supremes together, Neil Diamond, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Nancy Sinatra, The Starlite Orchestra, De-Phazz, Jim O'Rourke, Bossa Rio (1970), Trijntje Oosterhuis, and the Carpenters, among others.
Non-English renderings of the song include "Le chemin pour San José" by Ginette Reno – #8 Québécois hit for the year 1968 – , "Heiß ist der Kaffee in San José" by Corry Brokken, "Snart Så Stiger Solen Upp Igen" by Siw Malmkvist and "La route du bonheur" by Liliane Saint-Pierre.
Dionne Warwick re-recorded the song as a salsa-flavored collaboration with Celia Cruz and the Pete Escovedo Orchestra for her 1998 album Dionne Sings Dionne.
The song has been recorded on various Burt Bacharach tribute albums, including by Medeski Martin & Wood on Great Jewish Music: Burt Bacharach (1997), by both Yazz and Dionne Warwick (separately) on Tribute to Burt Bacharach & Hal David (2002), by Trijntje Oosterhuis on The Look of Love (2006), and by Kahimi Karie on All Kinds of People ~Love Burt Bacharach~ (2010).
In 1977, Maureen McCormick, Geri Reischl & Susan Olsen performed the song during a medley on an episode of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.