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!
Amália Rodrigues – Foi Deus
Amália da Piedade Rebordão Rodrigues (July 23, 1920 – 6 October 1999), better known as Amália Rodrigues (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐˈmaliɐ ʁuˈðɾiɣɨʃ]) or popularly as Amália, was a Portuguese (fado singer) and actress. Known as the ‘ Rainha do Fado’ (“Queen of Fado”), Rodrigues was instrumental in popularising fado worldwide and travelled internationally throughout her career.
As Monty Python once said, “And now for something completely different”, as we leave the US shores behind and make a long trip across the Atlantic to the Iberian Peninsula where we touch down in Portugal. Our music today is known as fado which translates as fate or destiny. The most famous artist in this particular genre is also one of Portugal’s most successful singers – Amália Rodrigues. Her version of Foi Deus is considered the finest and few artists have tried to compete with it.
Foi Deus translates as It was God and going through the lyrics the song is an ode to God and how the narrator owes their voice to the Lord. The song was considered a good fit for Rodrigues and as she takes us through the melody she sings of how God has enriched the world, is responsible for so much beauty all around her but, most importantly, has blessed her with the voice that gives us this very song.
As much as I have enjoyed my many days in the US, it was good to visit another country and to take in a different type of music as well. As with many other songs on this list, I had to seek out a translation to get to the heart of Foi Deus. It is a beautiful song and Amália Rodrigues certainly had an impressive voice. She was considered key in helping revitalise fado and taking it to a worldwide audience. That’s quite a legacy and when she did pass away in 1999 it was a send off in Portugal worthy of a monarch.
Favourite songs so far: