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…
Ricky Nelson – Lonesome Town (1958)
We remain in 1958 but have made our way back to the US today. For our featured artist we have a young man who first made his name on television before moving into music. We’re still enjoying rock and roll and our artist today is Ricky Nelson. The chosen song was written by Baker Knight and Nelson wasn’t originally intended as the singer but Lonesome Town ended up with him when he was just 18 years old.
Lonesome Town is akin to Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel but on a bigger scale. Elvis sang of a hotel for the broken hearted, but Ricky Nelson takes us into an entire town. From my research I have seen suggestions that this town is in fact Hollywood and it’s a place where hearts are broken and dreams are dashed. Many go there looking for the big time but the majority do not make it. Nelson’s singing is sorrowful as he tells us that he too is in lonesome town and that perhaps with time he can forget all that troubles him, but not at this moment sadly.
I wasn’t familiar with Ricky Nelson prior to this musical odyssey. Lonesome Town did sound a little familiar, though where I have heard it before I can’t say for certain. The structure of the song is simple but effective with Nelson strumming an acoustic guitar and backing vocals are provided by the Jordanaires. There’s no other music. It all works so well together and you really feel the sombre mood of this town you wouldn’t want to visit. Nelson’s fledgling music career would continue for many years but, sadly, he would lose his life in a plane crash in 1985 at the age of 45.
Favourite songs so far:
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)
Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)