On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging 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 everyday (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…
Marlene Dietrich – Lili Marleen (1945)
We leave behind the US shores today and cross the Atlantic to Europe where our plane finally comes to a halt in Germany. The song, Lili Marleen, has quite a history, beginning as a poem by a German soldier, Hans Leip, in 1915 before being turned into a song in the late 1930s where it was first recorded by Lale Andersen. It eventually came into the hands of German Hollywood actress, Marlene Dietrich, who recorded the song in its original German tongue.
The song itself has the narrator speak of their love for Lili Marleen and of the times spent with her that are to be treasured. It goes on to talk of being away from her, being at war, but not forgetting her, clinging desperately to her memory and the candle of their love remaining undiminished despite the madness all around them. The song became very popular on the radio for both German and Allied soldiers, more than likely making them think of their own loved ones at home awaiting news of their fates while the Second World War dragged on.
I only know a little bit of German so had to resort to a translation again for this song. Marlene Dietrich’s voice is melancholy as she sings of Lili Marleen but I can imagine listening to her as a soldier must have made for a soothing five minutes or so, the chance to briefly escape from conflict. Dietrich would go on to perform the song for soldiers during the war and what an opportunity it must have been to see the face behind the voice.
Favourite song so far:
Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit (1939)