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…
Domenico Modugno – Nel blu dipinto di blu (1958)
What’s all this? You mean we’re not going back to the US today? Afraid not, folks. Our journey is from Paris, heading south into Italy. Here we enjoy the company of a popular singer known as Domenico Modugno who had a big hit with today’s song. Written by Franco Migliacci and Modugno, today’s number is Nel blu dipinto di blu but is better known as Volare. It would be a chart topper in the US and go on to be covered by many artists in different languages but it’s the original that deserves the plaudits.
Nel blu dipinto di blu is originally in Italian so I had to find myself a translation as my Italian is sadly non-existent. Linguistically despicable aren’t I? The song concerns a dream where the narrator paints their face and hands blue and is lifted into the skies by the wind. Once up there they are able to fly and what a beautiful experience it is for them. As Modugno takes us into the chorus we rise into the skies with him, closer to the sun and farther from the world. Modugno is at peace in the skies and takes comfort in a melody that plays only for him as he continues to elevate towards the heavens. Such simplicity yet such beauty in equal measure.
I wasn’t familiar with this one but my wife, Donna, certainly was, even to the point of texting me “Volare oh oh oh” while I was listening to it. Presumably I have been living in a cave of ignorance in my 30+ years but I’m learning all the time and that’s what this musical journey is all about, right? Nel blu dipinto di blu has stunning imagery in its translation and it captures a dreamy paradise of being able to fly, something beyond humans (planes aside of course) but something many of us may have longed for in our lives. Modugno assures us in the song that he is happy to be high up, painted blue, and amongst the blue skies and it is a pleasure to be up there with him.
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)