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!
Enrico Caruso – O Sole Mio (1916)
“‘O sole mio ” ( Neapolitan pronunciation: [o ˈsoːlə ˈmiːə]) is a globally known Neapolitan song written in 1898. Its lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro and the music was composed by Eduardo di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi (1878-1972). There are other versions of ” ‘O sole mio” but it is usually sung in the original Neapolitan language.
This challenge begins way back in 1916 with Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, and his rendition of O Sole Mio.
Prior to listening I assumed I had never heard this song but within a few seconds I was familiar with it. Other tenors such as Luciano Pavarotti have performed the song in the last century and from further reading I learned the music has even been used in the composition of other songs, notably the classic, It’s Now or Never, by Elvis Presley. I can even remember Gomez (Raul Julia) serenading Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) on a boat in The Addams Family (1991). Not sure why that memory popped into my head and it’s probably best we don’t analyse that subject any further!
The song itself is all about the beauty of sunny days but how these pale in comparison to the one our singer loves. They lament the setting of the sun and long for it to rise again. I’m not usually one for opera but it is hard not to appreciate the art of tenor singing. O Sole Mio is a simple love song but this version from Enrico Caruso is a delightful way to start this journey of 1001 days.