List Item: Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die
Blue Monday – Fats Domino
Rhythm and blues with some rock and roll influences here. The music showing how these genres can mash up to produce something that was, for the time, new and exciting. The first of two Fats Domino tracks of 1956 and this is not the star of the show; that honour goes to Blueberry Hill.
Burundanga – Celia Cruz
A deliciously festive salsa track that ended up lending its name to a drug used by rapists. Clearly this knowledge clouds a lot of the positive feeling I have towards this song. Not the songs fault… but wow.
Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love) – Ella Fitzgerald
Oh hello Ella. She really was the voice you wanted when translating the Great American Songbook to vinyl. One of the true greats of this era. The fact that such a normal and unassuming woman is on here singing about sex with an audible gleam in her eye… well it’s a delight.
I’ve Got You Under My Skin – Frank Sinatra
Sintra’s warm tones and a rather intrusive saxophone make for one of the classic recordings. It takes a lot for someone to take a 20 year old Oscar nominated song and make it their standard. This song is forever linked with Frank Sinatra and don’t you just know it as the big band explodes into view.
Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye – Ella Fitzgerald
Third song in a row penned by Cole Porter. I don’t think we’ll see something like that again in this song list. Elegant is the only word that really springs to mind. The woodwind and string sections get a good workout in this more positive rendition of a song about saying goodbye to a loved one.
Be-Bop-A-Lula – Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps
Ah rockabilly. It didn’t take long for rock and roll for it to receive it’s first offbranching genre. Be-Bop-A-Lula makes heavy use of steel guitars in this early marriage of rock and roll, rhythym and blues and, most importantly, country music. It’s one of those tracks that screams Elvis Presley… and talk of the devil.
Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley
Another song making heavy use of those steel guitars. Listening to Elvis in the context of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra really helps to understand how Elvis stood out so much. In this more bluesy take on rockabilly Elvis is really slurring his words to the point where you find yourself leaning in… in a good way. Dark subject content too.
Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino
I have always loved this song. I even had this album for a while. It’s a smooth track that was apparently spliced together after they lost the sheet music and Fats couldn’t remember the song well enough to sing one clean take. Thumbs up to the editors there.
Hound Dog – Elvis Presley
A song about a woman throwing out her no good man as sung by Elvis Presley? I love it! This is one of those songs that twirling poodle skirts was made for. It’s one of those where both his cover and the original (an electric and attitude filled turn by Big Mama Thornton) satisify different needs. In her hands it’s a fuck you and get lost, in his hands it’s a fuck this and let’s dance.