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!
Lord Kitchener – London Is the Place for Me (1951)
” London is the Place for Me” is a 1948 calypso song by Aldwyn Roberts. Roberts, under his calypso stage name Lord Kitchener, sang the first two stanzas of “London is the Place for Me” on camera for reporters upon arrival at Tilbury Docks on the HMT Empire Windrush, and was recorded by Pathe newsreel cameras.
A brief hiatus from the US today as we take a flight to Trinidad and immerse ourselves in calypso music. Lord Kitchener is the artist in question, not the controversial one from history, but a very talented Trinidadian who became popular in his home country before touring overseas. Lord Kitchener would later emigrate to the UK in 1948 as one of the Windrush generation that would sadly hit the headlines last year thanks to the Windrush scandal caused by the UK government. Prior to this controversy, Lord Kitchener came to the UK and sang some of the song, London Is the Place for Me, when he first came to his new home.
As the title suggests, London Is the Place for Me pays homage to the UK’s capital and talks of the warm welcome and comforts that can be found in this wonderful city. The British people are friendly and can’t do enough for you, the scenery is beautiful and one feels like a king being immersed in this new country. The UK is a long way from Trinidad but for Lord Kitchener it is a place he wants to be though he will never forget his place of birth.
Listening to Lord Kitchener sing of the warm welcome he has had in London and the open arms of the British brought a smile to my face but also left me full of lamentation. 70 years on the UK has voted to leave the EU and is severely divided over the 2016 referendum. Immigration to the UK is another area of contention also. The Windrush scandal of 2018 was testament to how much has changed since Lord Kitchener first came to UK shores. He sings of a better time for this place I call home and sadly I can’t imagine seeing such days again in my lifetime.
Favourite song so far: