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…
Ella Fitzgerald – September Song (1960)
We’re staying in the US and today we have another familiar face. Ella Fitzgerald makes a welcome return for her third appearance on this list. Previously we had Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love) and Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, both memorable numbers from a great singer. Today’s selection has been covered by many artists, including Frank Sinatra. Fitzgerald came to record it with just a piano player, Paul Smith, accompanying her and came up with the version that belongs on this list. The song in question is September Song.
September Song has an excellent use of a metaphor of time with the calendar year symbolic of the life span of an individual. At the outset of this song, Fitzgerald sings of a man who sought the company of women and if, at first, he was unsuccessful he could bide his time and win them over. That approach is not recommended now. We hear of May to September passing quickly i.e. the years of life have elapsed and this man is older now, into the Autumn of his life. September is coming to a close and looking into the distance the man can see beyond October and his eyes are fixed on November. He doesn’t want to think about December where his demise awaits. He wants to savour September with his love for he is no longer young, he no longer has time to waste on idle wooing.
I loved the use of the metaphor here for the passing of life. I recently hit 37 myself and now appreciate the unrelenting passage of time, believing once that an age such as this was so very far away. How sadly wrong I was. September Song taps into that mournful lament about years lost and in Ella Fitzgerald the emotions come pouring out of the song. With a simple piano accompaniment this song may sound basic but both Smith’s playing and Fitzgerald’s voice merge into one and what a combination it is.
Favourite songs so far:
Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (1956)
Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line (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)
The Everly Brothers – All I Have to Do Is Dream (1958)
The Shirelles – Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1960)