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…
Gene Kelly – Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
We leave behind lovely Europe and take a plane back across the Atlantic Ocean to the US. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t so great as we land; in fact it’s raining but that doesn’t put off our artist today and it won’t ruin the party for us. Written by Nacio Herb-Brown and Arthur Freed, Singin’ in the Rain began life way back in the 1920s and featured in various productions without igniting. By the 1950s Arthur Freed had an idea to revisit the song and so came the musical of the same name with Gene Kelly taking on the vocals.
Many film lovers will be familiar with the sight of Gene Kelly dancing in the streets, umbrella in hand, and singing his heart out. He is unfazed by the rain and even welcomes it. Gene Kelly is immersed in love and no matter how hard the rain falls, it will not dampen his spirits. In the movie after he sings most of the lyrics, Kelly continues to dance until a far from amused police officer comes along and sends him on his way. The whole routine is one of Hollywood’s most iconic moments.
I was familiar with Singin’ in the Rain, having heard and lived with the song for many years now. It is an undoubted classic from Hollywood’s glory days when legendary stars seemed to be everywhere. One thing I took from reading 1001 Songs… was that the song is best listened to while watching Kelly in the film and I have to agree. Not only is Kelly’s routine funny and his dancing entertaining, the song has much more life with the visual impact. An unsurprising selection on this list.
Favourite songs so far:
Edith Piaf – La Vie en Rose (1946)
Elmore James – Dust My Broom (1952)