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!
Johnnie Ray & The Four Lads – Cry (1951)
” Cry” is the title of a 1951 popular song written by Churchill Kohlman. The song was first recorded by Ruth Casey on the Cadillac label. The biggest hit version was recorded in New York City by Johnnie Ray and The Four Lads on October 16, 1951.
We remain in the US for today’s song and once again it’s an artist that is considered to have been influential in the upcoming genre of the 1950s: Rock and Roll. Johnnie Ray would enjoy the sort of mania that both Elvis Presley and The Beatles came to enjoy with hysterical fans screaming as he took to the stage and sang. The song selected for this list is his rendition of Cry.
Cry unsurprisingly has the narrator expressing anguish, in this case it is heartbreak that is the focal point and the song offers advice on how to deal with it. Johnnie Ray sings of a lost sweetheart and insists that crying is not only okay but that it might even help. The song emphasises that there are no time limits for a broken heart and that the pain of lost love may go on so you may as well cry your heart out. The song concludes with an image of hope, with Ray singing of sunshine that can be found behind the clouds in the sky. The pain is very real but one day it will ease.
Cry was originally written by Churchill Kohlman and this version by Johnnie Ray is considered to be the best. In the performance I listened to the crowd were effusive at the outset and at one point threatened to drown out Ray’s voice. Thankfully, they receded and let him dominate the stage, his vocals conveying the suffering of heartbreak and the solace that may be found in the shedding of tears.
Favourite song so far: