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…
Peggy Lee – Fever (1958)
It feels like Groundhog Day today. We’re still in the US. It’s still 1958. The only difference is we have a new artist and song today and it’s a gem. This song was originally recorded by R&B artist Little Willie John who enjoyed some success with it. Its biggest acclaim though came when the song was passed to Peggy Lee. Some of the lyrics were changed, new musical arrangements were made and from the hard work came what is considered the most well-known version of Fever.
Fever is all about love and the passion that it brings. Lee sings of being with someone and how a kiss or an embrace from them makes her feel this fever. How intense this passion is may be open to debate but as far as the lyrics are concerned it seems to be pretty intense stuff we’re dealing with here. There are some great comparisons from history towards the end, channelling stories of Romeo and Juliet, as well as John Smith and Pocahontas, all who experienced this fever that Lee is telling us about. It’s something we all are capable of feeling and it’s something that has been around since people first walked the earth.
I’ve known this song for quite some time. It remains a classic and it’s really great to see it on this list too. Peggy Lee’s vocals are exquisite and the background melody keeps a great rhythm running throughout. This would become Lee’s signature song and many artists would look to follow in her footsteps by covering the song themselves. It’s hard to imagine anyone topping this version though.
Favourite songs so far:
Elmore James – Dust My Broom (1952)
Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (1956)
Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line (1956)
The Louvin Brothers – The Knoxville Girl (1956)
Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (1958)
Cliff Richard & The Drifters – Move It (1958)
Ritchie Valens – La Bamba (1958)
Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)
Peggy Lee – Fever (1958)