On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging 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 everyday (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…
Julie London – Cry Me a River (1955)
Still happy in 1950s US and today we have ourselves a jazzy blues ballad first written by Arthur Hamilton and initially offered to Ella Fitzgerald for the film, Pete Kelly’s Blues, only for the song to be dropped. It was considered by other artists before finally finding a home with Julie London for one of its early manifestations. Though the likes of Shirley Bassey would later record it, it is Julie London that gets the nod for our musical odyssey of 1001 songs.
Cry Me a River is from the perspective of someone who has faced rejection and heartbreak only to see the source of their woe come back wanting a second chance. The nerve! Our protagonist could easily heal their broken heart by rekindling the love lost before but instead they ask this unnamed individual to show their own pain and to see if it comes anywhere close to what our narrator has been through. The crying a river of the song is an instruction to the heartbreaker, to convey the same sorrow that our narrator has. You know they won’t come anywhere close.
Julie London was not the first choice for this song but despite this she offers a beautiful rendition. Her emotive voice captures the pain of the narrator but also the strength they now have when faced with the return of someone that hurt them so deeply. You get the idea that they are a better person for having lived through such terrible pain. Such a plethora of emotions are emitted from this song, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed.
Favourite songs so far:
Edith Piaf – La Vie en Rose (1946)
Elmore James – Dust My Broom (1952)
Little Richard – Tutti Frutti (1955)