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…
Fred Astaire – They Can’t Take That Away From Me (1952)
We’re back in the US for today’s song and it’s from an artist who makes you want to have a little dance – Fred Astaire. Partnered with Ginger Rogers, Astaire is regarded as one of the most influential dancers ever to appear on film. Today’s song – They Can’t Take That Away From Me – actually began in 1937 and was written by George and Ira Gershwin and first used by Astaire in the film, Shall We Dance. He would return to the song in other films but the version that is considered the best comes from 1952.
The song is one of heartbreak with Fred Astaire singing of someone special that has been taken away from him. Though this brings him great sorrow, Astaire does not despair for there are many things of his lover that no one can take away – his memories most of all. A series of idiosyncracies are listed in the song from how the woman holds a knife, the way she sips tea and even how she sings off key. These imperfections are what make her perfect and leave the narrator determined he will not forget her or them.
I’m ashamed to say I have never seen a film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in but I have heard great things over the years. This song showcases Astaire’s singing ability to add to his dancing skills. As with many songs on this list, love lost seems to be one of the most striking themes for music and the impact is felt here from some memorable lyrics.
Favourite song so far:
Edith Piaf – La Vie en Rose (1946)