Tag Archives: Edith Piaf

1001 Songs – 1960

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Wondrous Place – Billy Fury

At first blush this song feels like yet another British attempt to be Elvis Presley (it really didn’t help that Elvis didn’t tour in the UK). His voice doesn’t have the same depth of tone and his humming at the end felt a little nasal.

I feel that we have heard other slow rock and roll songs like this in the list already that are better. I guess it’s on here to get an entry for Billy Fury.

Save the Last Dance for Me – The Drifters

In a previous post I mentioned how glad I was to hear the first inklings of a Phil Spector type production. I felt the same way, but instead was greeted with the names Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Turns out that Phil ‘Wall of Sound’ Spector was an intern of theirs and clearly learned a lot from them. You can really see this link in the production of the song.

A short while in I knew there was going to be this swell of instrumentation at the end. There was just this feeling that it was going to build. Lo and behold it did.

Chaje shukarije – Esma Redzepova

I did not expect the screaming in the beginning. I don’t think anyone could have expected that screaming in the beginning. Talk about a complete change in tone!

Apart from a bit of klezmer and one gypsy-style music concert I went to in the very distant past I have no real experience with this sort of music. I wish that the screaming in the beginning had been edited out as I spent the rest of the song hovering over the volume of my laptop.

As a woman Esma Redzepova is as remarkable as her set of pipes. I can’t imagine there being another Nobel Peace Prize nominee on this list. Whilst I probably would not listen to an album of this at work, I would more than happily watch this sort of music live.

Oh Carolina – The Folks Brothers

And so we have the first ska song on the list (which means reggae isn’t behind, oh joy of joys). Since it one of those songs that provided the seed from which reggae (and the associated rasta movement) grew, there is no denying the importance of songs like ‘Oh Carolina’ in musical history.

Personally, I would take Esma Redzepova’s pipes over this any day. But I think I am in a minority there.

The Click Song (Qongqothwane) – Miriam Makeba

Back when I listened to Miriam Makeba’s eponymous album (in a failed attempt to listen my way through the 1001 album list) I remember absolutely falling for this song.

The clicks in this traditional Xhosa folk song just sound so alien because of the ease that the singers are able to accomplish them. I have always adored this song for one reason – it never fails to make me smile. I don’t know what it is about this song, but I love it.

Will You Love Me Tomorrow – The Shirelles

We are still a long way from Carole King’s debut album and her magificent second album Tapestry. I know this song more as a slow version, so this more upbeat version by The Shirelles is actually quite jarring.

I like this version, I’ve heard it before in adverts. So it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that this faster paced girl group version exists.

Whatever happened to all this girl groups anyway? In the 1950s and 60s there was a wealth of them and the only currently running version that comes to mind is Little Mix… and that’s not exactly the same.

Love Hurts – The Everly Brothers

Another song I know better from one of my list albums (this time it’s from Gram Parson’s Grevious Angel).

Compared to the music we have heard so far in 1960 (and 1959) this song actually feels like a throwback. It’s amazing how much the musical scene has changed since we last heard The Everly Brothers singing ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’. Must have been hard being that sort of musician and seeing your marketplace start to evaporate.

September Song – Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald is probably most famous for covering the great American songbooks. It’s no suprise hearing her refer to herself in a song using male pronouns, we just accept that she’s just doing another one of her songbook pieces. Nowadays we’d change things to suit, but not Ella.

As topics go this is not something I think I have encountered in a song before. You have an aging man making a plea to a young woman (the song itself uses the term “May-December”) to reject the advances of young men and be with him. Ella makes this song beautiful rather the gruffer rendition of the original version.

Shakin’ All Over – Johnny Kidd & The Pirates

It’s high time that we had something a bit more rocky. Aside from Billy Fury in the beginning of this list of ten we have actually been pretty rockless.

I know this song. I don’t know how, but it’s that guitar lick that so stands out to me.

I wish I could take this song more seriously… but he’s wearing an eyepatch on the single cover. I guess that’s going with the theme… but really? Were eyepatches cool back then only to be ruined by Pete Burns?

Non, je ne regrette rien – Edith Piaf

Easily the most famous song in the bunch. It’s one of those songs that feels powerfully defiant and yet celebratory at the same time. No matter who has covered this since the song belongs to Edith Piaf. I have to be up at 5am tomorrow meeting so I can travel to Wales for a meeting… so cutting this post here here.

1960 was an interestingly varied year for this list – it’s one of the last shorter years on the 1001 song list before the 1960s heats up.

Progress: 122/1021

1001 Songs – 1941 – 1946

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Gloomy Sunday – Billie Holiday (1941)

Watchers of QI will know this song as being associated with radio listeners committing suicide. I know it’s dumb, but I did gird my loins in case of severe depression. It is always great when a song has such a dark urban myth attached to it. The song itself, whilst it is undoubtedly melancholy, did not make me want to slit my wrists. Her delivery is, as always, emotionally evocative. Much more so due to the lyrics shading suicide.

Guantanamera – Joseito Fernandez (1941)

A nice respite in the Billie Holiday sandwich of depression. ‘Guantanamera’ feels a lot more cheerful for two reasons. Cuban melodies are fairly upbeat even when dealing with tragedy. Also, I have no idea what he is singing. I just know that he keeps using a feminine verison of Guantanamo which feels weird considering what Gitmo is.

God Bless The Child – Billie Holiday (1941)

Oh god, this has been ruined for me by the Simpsons Sing The Blues album. Nowhere near as mournful as ‘Strange Fruit’ or ‘Gloomy Sunday’ – maybe because this is a song that Billie Holiday wrote herself. One thing I am very aware of is how clear her voice is. As someone who listens to Lady In Satin every now and then (‘Violet for Your Furs’ being a favourite’) it is great to be able to hear how her voice was before the drugs and the drink got to it. Like a mournful siren.

Stormy Weather – Lena Horne (1943)

Where Billie Holiday is mournful in her songs that address dissapointment, Lena Horne is petulant. ‘Stormy Weather’ is about how life (and men) have dissapointed the singer. Lena is angry at her disspointment and at the world that has caused her to feel this way. The sweeping strings in the background perfectly lift her soaring vocal delivery. It’s a very simply arranged song, but Lena Horne is able to easily carry it off with a whole lot of confidence.

Rum and Coca-Cola – Lord Invader (1943)

Just noticed that we have skipped over 1942. This is a very dark song, not that you would know it until you look at the lyrics. It’s a song about how the US soldiers went over to Triniad and the writer feels that they were invading the society (the title referring to the drinks that US soldiers were drinking). It also makes a lot of references to the US soldiers sleeping with local women. On the shallow level, the song is all over the place and can be difficult to follow. On a deeper level, it’s a historical document.

This Land Is Your Land – Woody Guthrie (1944)

A very patriotic and a very American song here. I have never really liked this song for the way some people have been able to re-appropriate it against immigration along the US-Mexico border. In a more innocent world it would be nice enough, it’s just some people have been able to ruin it.

Lili Marleen – Marlene Dietrich (1945)

I love Marlene Dietrich in films – her deep and smoky delivery makes for interesting listening. It’s a very German cabaret type of voice (like Ute Lemper in the modern day). I don’t know German – but I know it is a rather beautiful sounding German love song. The fact that this version was used by the Allies in World War Two as a way to demoralise German soldiers (Marlene Dietrich apparently being very on board with this) makes this song a weird stroke of genius.

(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 – The Nat King Cole Trio (1946)

I am so used to Nat King Cole being a voice of Christmas songs, so it is weird to hear him sounding so youthful. It’s a crossover song between pop and rhythym and blues – and if it was released after Bill Haley came onto the scene this would have sounded VERY different.

Al gurugu – La Nina de los peines (1946)

A good example of why I went for this list instead of Acclaimed Music. This is a flamenco song that would not have appeared on a critics top list, but is interesting to listen to because it is a very different type of song. Yes, this is a latin off shoot, but the foot stomping in the background keeping the beat in the place of drums makes a lot more sense. She was very important in the flamenco scene – just not many people are aware of that scene.

La vie en rose – Edith Piaf (1946)

One of the most famous songs ever to come out of France. It’s a beautiful song where you can just phase out of whatever you are doing and take you along a journey with it. I just love it. Hard to know what else to say.

La mer – Charles Trenet (1946)

I had no idea that ‘Beyond The Sea’ was based on a French song! Well, you learn something new everyday. I quite like the English version and, because it is what I am used to, I do prefer it. There is something about listening to the melody with the original (and unrelated) French lyrics. My one issue? When the backing singers join at the end of ‘La Mer’, it detracts from the simplicity of it.

Progress: 31/1021