Tag Archives: The Miracles

1001 Songs – 1965: Part One

Now we have reached 1965 I think this list is at the point where nearly every year is going to be split up. In total there are 22 songs listed for 1965 and I will be doing an even split between the two.

Just scanning the names of some of the songs released in 1965 makes your jaw drop. We are getting to the point where there are some real heavy hitters; so it is nice to start on a lesser known one.

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

La paloma – Caterina Valente

‘La paloma’ is one of the most recorded songs in history. At 140 years old this Spanish song been sung all around the world. It’s English version (entitled ‘No More’ was recorded by Elvis Presley and versions of this song have featured in films such as Das Boot and The Godfather Part II.

I guess that it would make sense for some form of this song will feature on this list. It means that Caterina Valente’s version (sung in the original Spanish) must be one of the best representations of this song. It’s nice, although it could do with fewer flourishes. However, this just pales in comparison to what is going to follow.

Sinnerman – Nina Simone

Nina Simone is worthy of more than just one song on this list. However, if you were to pick only one song it would have to be ‘Sinnerman’. She wasn’t just the amazing singer and trailblazer, but also she was an incredible arranger. You see it on other recordings in the Nina Simone discography, but ‘Sinnerman’ exemplifies this.

At just over 10 minutes long ‘Sinnerman’ feels absolutely jam packed. No time feels wasted in this powerful jazz piano-driven gospel number. To see this performed live must have been absolutely enrapturing. Makes complete sense that it would be how she ends her concerts.

The Irish Rover – The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem

From something traditionally gospel we are going to something traditionally Irish. New York truly is a melting pot. Both ‘Sinnerman’ and ‘The Irish Rover’ represent very different sides of the same beautiful city.

Think of this Irish folk song as a tall tale about a ship that gets taller and taller before it hits a rock and sinks. A good fun romp and a lot less serious than the soul grabbing song we had just before.

Needle of Death – Bert Jansch

Okay and we are back in serious town. The flip side of folk here are Scottish folk singer Bert Jansch sings a song about a friend of his who died because of drugs.

There is no ambiguity in this song. The lyrics are brutal, the atmosphere sombre and the delivery is heartbreaking. It’s enough to make you tear up (I did, but I’m an easy audience) as he repeats the chorus of “Your troubled young life/Had made you turn/To a needle of death”.

Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag – James Brown

What is this list doing to me!? Taking me from one emotion to another in the blink of an eye. Whoever arranged this book is a sadist.

Anyway. What we have here is a very important song in music classification history. Behind this light-hearted song about an older man still having the guts to get on the dancefloor and do dances like the Twist and the Mashed Potato is a new genre. That’s right: funk has well and truly entered the building.

La boheme – Charles Aznavour

Just reading though this man’s Wikipedia page is enough to make anyone humble (and not just because he was the French voice of Up’s Mr Fredericksen). To many he is THE name of chanson recordings and ‘La boheme’ is his signature song’.

It tells the story of a young painter looking back on his life in a typical chanson meter. Emotive, yet measured. Sweeping, yet subdued. It’s like the French version of ‘It Was A Very Good Year’ in that it looks back on the past fondly, but without the regret of lost youth.

California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas

How unfair is this. Such a great song written by your brain as you dream. Some people juse have the talent I guess.

The only word you need to describe this is ‘sunny’. Written by John and Michelle Phillip about the California weather they were missing whilst living in New York City during winter. The layering of the harmonies in this song and that flute solo are the perfect accompaniment to a sunny afternoon (or can transport you to a sunny afternoon when it’s a cold day). Lovely.

Ticket to Ride – The Beatles

First Beatles song on this list. With this being their 7th number one single I am impressed at the restraint of the editors of this book. Usually people just back in the Beatles because it’s an easy way to make lists like this.

Why is this their first song on the list? Because this is when the Beatles really became the Beatles. Beforehand they were taking what other groups were doing at the time and making good versions of that; now they are moving on from that. You can start to hear psychedelia creeping into their work.

5 Beatles songs left to go. Again, I admire the restraint of this book’s editors.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stone

I have heard this song so many times (including Joanna Lumley’s karaoke version in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’), but I think this is the first time that I have listened to the lyrics of this.

Much like The Kink’s ‘You Really Got Me’ we have an early example of rock and roll moving on from the dancefloors of Elvis into something a bit more powerful (or forceful) and into something harder. With these last three songs we see the spectrum that rock was splitting itself into. The softer side that is more pop and folk, the psychedelic side and the harder side.

The Tracks of My Tears – The Miracles

A bit of a breather from the rock world now and a little bit of soul. It’s unusual to hear a song from a man’s side of a break-up that is this emotionally honest. The lyric ‘my smile is my make-up I wear since my break up with you’.

Here we have someone essentially saying: I miss you, I’ve been crying, I’m on the rebound and I’m still thinking of you. It’s so heartfelt and the sad lyrics, like the song itself, are hidden beneath a more joyful backing. Layers and layers this song has.

Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds

I have seen the case made that 1965 is one of the three important years in modern music. The other two? 1975 and 1991.

This year has already been able to demonstrate a seminal funk song, the splitting of rock into the three sub-genres and now we have the song that invented the term punk rock. Holy cow.

Getting back on the road of songs – it is interesting to note that the band weren’t initially too keen on recording this. Probably because this is originally a slower folk Bob Dylan song and they wanted something that was more on the Beatles side of things.

Still, you can’t say that they didn’t make this song their own. I wouldn’t go as far as Bob Dylan and say that it was danceable, but it’s still a good piece of folk rock. I looked at their album AGES ago. Come take a look!

Progress: 175/1021

1001 Songs – 1962

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

Tous les garcons et les filles – Francoise Hardy

So it’s a chanson that starts off this ridiculously short. I know that this is not the first chanson song of the list, but I felt so aware that there is so little to this recording outside of the voice of Francoise Hardy.

The song is the story of a young person who has never been in a relationship and so is jealous of all the couples around her. It’s a really gentle, and somewhat, maudlin song. Odd way to begin the year.

You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me – The Miracles

This is truly one of THE great soul songs of the early 1960s. Many have covered this from The Beatles to the Zooey Deschanel vehicle She & Him, but nothing beats the original version by The Miracles with Smokey Robinson front and centre.

It’s one of those songs that’s fun to sing along to on a summer’s day (he says publishing this in the icy cold of January).

Boom Boom – John Lee Hooker

I am beginning to wonder when we are going to see the back of this style of blues rock song. I know that back in 1961 we still had entries like ‘Back Door Man’, but we are getting to a point where there really is not much development anymore.

By 1962 rock has well and truly been born so ‘Boom Boom’ really feels like an artefact. Apparently this is a really influential song to rock and roll so I guess that rather than being a midwife that delivered rock and roll it was that boy in secondary school that made you think ‘Hmmm’ for the first time.

I guess what I am trying to say that this was an agent of rock’s maturation rather than its conception.

He’s a Rebel – The Crystals

(Actually recorded by Darlene Love from girl group The Blossoms) this is the song I have been waiting for in terms of pop production. Ladies and gentlemen: we have a true Wall of Sound song.

Also, who is that on vocals? Why it’s Darlene Love whose voice is one of my Christmas sign posts.

The history of this song is rather odd as this was meant to be a Darlene Love solo record and Phil Spector instead had it marketed as by The Crystals with both the group and Love being taken completely by surprise upon the song’s debut.

I have been waiting for pop to emerge and, by Jove, I think it might be coming soon!

Do You Love Me – The Contours

Okay, so this is basically just Chubby Checker’s ‘The Twist’ with different words and a slightly different arrangement.

I, um, have not go much to say about this apart from the strange false ending 20 seconds before the end. I can do the mashed potato though. Both the food and the dance.

Your Cheating Heart – Ray Charles

It was an experiment that worked much better than Ray Charles could have expected. In 1962 he released a cover album of country music standards called Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music which was a massive hit. So massive that a second volume was released before the year was out.

One of the singles from that was this cover of a Hank Williams song. By adding the orchestra Ray Charles has stripped away anything that makes it a country song and moves it more towards the RnB/Soul genres.

It’s a good decision to sing it this way as it feels far more personal… which makes this song quite apt if you know anything about his personal life.

Progress: 138/1021