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…

 

The Coasters – Yakety Yak (1958)

We’re ensconced once more in the US today and we’re in the company of an R&B/rock and roll group – The Coasters. The Coasters enjoyed a string of hits in the 1950s before their music became old hat as the 1960s took over, essentially the fate of rock and roll in general as that decade of experimentation went into overdrive. From The Coasters’ rich collection of hits this list of 1001 songs has gone with an argumentative number named Yakety Yak.

Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, also famous for Elvis’ Hound Dog, Yakety Yak was described as a playlet, a term used to describe reflections of teenage life. The Coasters sing of a parent and their teenager. The parent is asking for a series of chores to be done around the house and the punishment for not doing so is essentially being grounded, not enjoying rock and roll or going out with friends being just a taste of what may happen. With each request, the teenager yells “Yakety yak” and is swiftly followed by the parent saying, “Don’t talk back”.

I was familiar with this one from The Coasters. The memory it triggered was of Steven Spielberg’s 1989 romantic drama, Always with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter. Worth a look if you haven’t seen it. If I remember correctly the song is playing as Hunter is frantically cleaning and tidying her house so very apt you might say. This is another classic rock and roll song and it has a comical flavour to it with the “yakety yak” of the title being something you can imagine a disobedient teenager muttering to a parent.

 

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)

Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (1958)

Cliff Richard & The Drifters – Move It (1958)

Ritchie Valens – La Bamba (1958)

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