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…
Dinah Washington – Mad About the Boy (1961)
Continuing in the US today and we have an artist considered to be one of the most popular black recording artists of the 1950s. Her name is Dinah Washington and the song we are focused on is one she recorded in both the 1950s and 1960s. Written by Noel Coward, Mad About the Boy was covered by numerous artists but Washington gets the nod ahead of them all for our golden 1001 songs. Let’s find out more.
Mad About the Boy was first introduced back in 1932 and was intended for female singers, though Coward did encourage a version from a male perspective. In the song, Washington sings of her love for a famous boy and how she is crazy about him. Don’t misunderstand, she knows she is being foolish for this infatuation, that it’s unlikely to lead to anything, but the feelings she has are just strong and delightful. Washington simply can’t help herself even though she knows she would be best to move on.
In 1992 Washington’s version of this song appeared in a Levi’s advert and gained popularity as a result. This was back in my youth when having any song associated with Levi’s might lead to chart success. The good old days you might say. Anyway, Washington sings this one delightfully, conveying her passion for the boy of the title but also her realisation at her own foolhardiness. Sadly, Washington’s career would not last long after this song. In 1963 Washington’s husband woke to find her unresponsive. A doctor quickly came but pronounced her dead with an autopsy revealing a fatal combination of drugs to be the cause. Washington was just 39.
Favourite songs so far:
Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line (1956)
Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (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)
Johnny Kidd & the Pirates – Shakin’ All Over (1960)
Edith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien (1960)