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!
Charles Trenet – La Mer (1946)
” La Mer” (English: “The Sea”) is a song by French composer, lyricist, singer and showman Charles Trenet. The song was first recorded by the French singer Roland Gerbeau in 1945. When Trenet’s version was released in 1946, it became an unexpected hit, and has remained a chanson classic and jazz standard ever since.
We extend our stay in France for today’s song which comes from a prolific performer in his homeland who wrote hundreds of songs as he preferred to record his own material rather than cover the work of others. Despite this tremendous output only the one song became famous worldwide – La Mer. The artist in question is Charles Trenet.
La Mer translates as The Sea and the whole song is an ode to the ocean. The imagery is striking with the sea considered an omnipotent force of nature, one that changes with the season and is resplendent in its beauty. The sea can dance, it can trick the naked eye but it isn’t malicious, it is there for all to savour. Charles Trenet takes us through many of its notable qualities and sings of how the ocean “rocked my heart for life.”
As before, I sought out a translation for this song from Charles Trenet. Those five years of GCSE French back at secondary school clearly did me the world of good! La Mer is Trenet’s most famous song and it is telling that a memorable song doesn’t necessarily need to be complicated to strike a chord with others. Trenet opted for a simple subject in his celebration of the sea but it is one that gave him great acclaim and deserve it he did.
Favourite song so far: