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 Marcels – Blue Moon (1961)
We’re back sampling some of that good old doo-wop sound today and we’re staying on in the US while we do so, thank you very much. Our artists today began as a quintet and were notable for having two white members and three black members, who together formed a terrific combination. The Marcels would take old songs and give them a rock and roll flavouring. Their most successful cover is a popular standard in the US, one attempted by many artists. First written in 1934 by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, we’re sitting back and taking in the stars and the Blue Moon.
Blue Moon sees the narrator alone at the outset, staring at the blue moon of the title and longing for both a dream to be fulfilled and to find love. The blue moon responds and the narrator is greeted by another person, one who wants to be in their arms and to be adored solely by them. When our narrator looks to the blue moon they find that the visage has changed to gold. Gone is the sadness and here is the light of happiness. The narrator concludes the song by telling the blue moon that they now have dreams and they are no longer alone. The heavens were listening to their plight and they have responded kindly.
The Marcels’ version of the song includes the supremely catchy “bomp baba bomp ba bomp ba bomp bomp” and follows up with “vedanga dang dang vadinga dong ding” before the song’s lyrics are sung. It is fast-paced and feels and sounds great. The song would feature in the closing credits of 1981 horror, An American Werewolf in London, and would be one of three versions of the song that John Landis included in the film, the others being covers by Sam Cooke and Bobby Vinton. There is more than one good version of the song, for sure, but The Marcels’ take is memorable for the doo-wop injection and it is a great addition to this list.
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)
Edith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien (1960)
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)