On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Don Azpiazu & His Havana Casino Orchestra – El manisero (1929)
” El manisero”, known in English as ” The Peanut Vendor”, is a Cuban son- pregón composed by Moisés Simons. Together with ” Guantanamera”, it is arguably the most famous piece of music created by a Cuban musician.
For today’s song we head back to Cuba and find ourselves on the streets trying to ply our trade with the sale of peanuts. El manisero means the peanut vendor and this particular song is one of the most famous to come out of Cuba with more than a hundred artists having recorded a version.
For this list the artist with the biggest success was Don Azpiazu and His Havana Casino Orchestra who recorded the song in the 1920s. Combining the sound of a vendor calling out to the public with son – a style of Cuban music covered when I listened to Trio Matamoros and Lagrimas negras – El manisero seems lyrically very simple with the peanut vendor beseeching someone to have a peanut before they retire to bed.
It’s when I hear songs such as this that I lament my inability to speak a language other than English. Though I couldn’t decipher the words to El manisero without seeking out a translation I still enjoyed the song and the vocals from Antonio Machin are evocative. Compared to some of the other songs covered thus far, this was certainly a more upbeat number and an enjoyable one to boot. Cuban music has a lot of appeal.
Favourite song so far: