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…
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I Put a Spell on You (1956)
Continuing in the US we have an unusual one featuring today. The artist is Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and he would become well known for his powerful vocals and some rather eccentric stage performances as well, even wielding a skull called Henry during some shows. A musical Hamlet you might say. Hawkins’ most famous song has, of course, been chosen here and it is I Put a Spell on You.
Originally intended as a romantic blues ballad, Hawkins and his band were given chicken and alcohol in the studio, proceeded to get very drunk and then recorded I Put a Spell on You with Hawkins screaming and screeching his way through. There are not a great deal of lyrics with the main theme being Hawkins putting a spell on someone because they are his. This was one is more about those vocals and, boy, does Hawkins throw himself into this one.
I Put a Spell on You doesn’t have a lot in the way of lyrics but it’s still a great listen. The idea that we’re listening to someone intoxicated belting this one out is quite remarkable. There is even a suggestion that Hawkins had to listen to this one back before performing it live as he had no memory of it from the night before. That in one respect is amusing but also sad that he could never revisit the moment of the recording.
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)
The Louvin Brothers – The Knoxville Girl (1956)