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…

 

Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line (1956)

We continue in the US where legendary names are starting to come thick and fast on this list now. Today’s artist excelled in country music circles though his repertoire extended into other genres such as blues and rock and roll. Johnny Cash would enjoy a glittering career but it wasn’t one without problems in the shape of drug and alcohol abuse. One of Cash’s most famous songs has unsurprisingly made our list today – I Walk The Line.

Written by Cash in 1956, I Walk the Line is a simple song but one with a profound message. In the song, Cash sings of his love and devotion for a woman. This fidelity he has makes him want to go through life carefully and to stay out of trouble. Such loyalty as this is not hard for Cash though; this woman completes his life, makes everything better and, in turn, he wants to be better for her each and every day.

Johnny Cash was married to his first wife at the time of this song’s composition. He would later meet the love of his life, June Carter, in the 1960s and they would spend the rest of their lives together, dying within four months of each other. I Walk the Line feels like a prophetic song about Cash’s relationship with June, who would support him through drug addiction and fill a void in his life that not even music could fill. Surprisingly, Cash wrote I Walk the Line in the space of 20 minutes and it sounds wonderful more than 60 years later.

 

Favourite songs so far:

Edith Piaf – La Vie en Rose (1946)

Elmore James – Dust My Broom (1952)

Little Richard – Tutti Frutti (1955)

Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (1956)

Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (1956)

Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line (1956)

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