In 1968, Dionne Warwick had never been to San Jose and didn't think much of the song.
In 2014, the 73-year old singer is finding her way back to the city that inspired her iconic tune, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”
The Celebrity Apprentice veteran is in town Friday night, Aug. 1, to sing the 1968 hit and other songs at the Center for the Performing Arts. While in town, Warwick will be officially named the city’s “global ambassador of goodwill.” She’ll sing that song as part of a Sister Cities International conference on Friday.
The catchy number penned by the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David would become her biggest international seller and won Warwick her first Grammy Award in 1968.
Lyricist David said he had fond memories of San Jose while serving during World War II.
"It's a dumb song and I didn't want to sing it,” Warwick said in a 1983 interview. She told the Today show back in 2010 she used to hate singing the smash.
When the song became an international hit, Warwick said she “cried all the way to the bank."
For Warwick, recasting the song as a duet with Celia Cruz – the duo teamed up in 2003 – has given it new life. ``I'm having a lot of fun with it now,'' she said.
Warwick told The Associated Press that she first recorded the song as a favor to her dear friend and songwriter David, who wrote the lyrics after developing an affinity for the town while he was stationed there in the Navy.
When the song became a hit, Warwick said she figured she'd better visit San Jose, which was then a farming community growing prunes, grapes and apricots.
``It was a little country town. But one of the most beautiful things I saw when I was there for the first time was their rose garden,'' she said.
Today, that 5-acre Municipal Rose Garden is still blooming, but what's really flourishing is technology, as the orchards have been replaced by Silicon Valley firms.
``It's a thriving city now,'' Warwick said.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said he's pleased Warwick is coming back to town to sing. ``It's a great song and a great story about San Jose,'' he said.
Over the years, especially during stints living in smog-laden Los Angeles, Warwick said there was one line that always got stuck in her head: ``You can really breathe in San Jose.''
``It's true,'' she said. ``The weather is great there.''