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…
Frank Sinatra – One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) (1958)
We’re in the US once more, folks, and we’re in familiar territory with today’s artist. It is a third appearance on this list from Frank Sinatra and we’re still only in the 1950s so the US legend may eclipse Billie Holiday yet with four entries so far. For our featured song today we have a number written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer which originally appeared in the musical, The Sky’s the Limit (1943), and performed by Fred Astaire. Sinatra recorded numerous versions of the song but his best, and the one worthy of this list, came in 1958.
One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) sees Sinatra setting the scene with him and a bartender named Joe alone in a bar late at night. It’s nearly closing time but Sinatra wants Joe to hang on just a little bit longer for he has a story to tell. It sounds as if Sinatra is lamenting the end of a relationship for he beseeches Joe to hear him out and periodically asks for one more drink for his love and one more before he leaves. It sounds like he’s been in the bar for some time but isn’t yet ready to go home. Joe seems a dutiful patron and hears Sinatra out.
This is a sombre song of lost love and listening to the lyrics you can picture the narrator there in that bar with Joe, the place quiet save for the two men, the place probably cleaned and tidied for the following day but one last customer hangs onto the bar and simply will not go. It seems Joe is the only human contact this man has now and he wants to hang onto this connection for as long as he can, anything but be alone. This is the best of the Sinatra songs featured so far, his vocals don’t just convey the melody but they recreate the image the song describes so its pictured vividly in your mind.
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)