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!
Billie Holiday – God Bless the Child (1941)
” God Bless the Child” is a song written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. in 1939. It was first recorded on May 9, 1941 and released by the Okeh Records in 1942. Holiday’s version of the song was honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1976.
Today sees Billie Holiday hit the list for the third time, more than any other artist thus far and a testament to her enduring appeal and legend. After Strange Fruit and Gloomy Sunday we have a song that Holiday herself wrote and is entitled God Bless the Child. According to Holiday’s autobiography the song began life thanks to an argument that she had with her mother and the words that formed the title were uttered during the exchange.
Holiday’s argument with her mother was in reference to money and the song has this as a theme running all the way through. It speaks of the importance of having money and what it brings you in comparison to being poor. A striking example from the song is that friends flock to those with money but quickly turn and abandon you once you have nothing. Holiday also sings of parents having money but ultimately the song is saying that God blesses those that have their own money and do not rely on others. What form her argument with her mother about money took is open to speculation but the incident is said to have angered Holiday.
A third appearance from Billie Holiday is most welcome on the list and for my grateful ears. Once again, her vocals are impeccable throughout. While not as emotive for me as Strange Fruit and Gloomy Sunday, I still thoroughly enjoyed this song and hope that there may yet be more songs from Holiday on the list to come.
Favourite song so far: