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…
Jose Alfredo Jimenez – Ella (1956)
“Ella” is a 1942 Spanish-language song, a vals mejicano composed by José Alfredo Jiménez. Jiménez wrote the song at the age of 18 after a broken romance. The lyrics begin “Me canse de rogarle..”.
We make a rare jaunt outside of the US today. Our travels take us a short distance across the south border and into Mexico. Immersed here, we have the privilege of some rancheras music today, a popular form of Mexican melody akin to the blues and country genres of the US. Today’s artist is Jose Alfredo Jimenez who showed musical potential from a young age but wouldn’t realise it until some time later. From his collection we have Ella (She).
Ella was written by Jimenez at a young age and is based on heartbreak he went through as a young man. Jimenez sings of a woman he has loved and who has loved him back but the relationship is now at an end. He desperately wants this not to be the case, it sounds like the message is not getting through to him, but there exists an air of resignation in here. Jimenez is slowly coming to terms with reality but it is a painful process.
Jose Alfredo Jimenez was writing music and showing promise in his early years and would eventually make his breakthrough with Ella being one of his earliest and most popular hits. Though I needed a translation once more (I really need to learn Spanish!), this was still a heartfelt and tragic number, sung beautifully by Jimenez. Sadly, his would not be a long career with the artist dying in 1973 at the young age of 47.
Favourite songs so far: