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 Miracles – You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me (1962)
Back in the US today and it’s time for a spot of R&B from one of the most influential groups in this genre. The Miracles aka Smokey Robinson and The Miracles were active in the 1960s and 1970s and left a rich legacy behind when they disbanded. Their key member – Smokey Robinson – wrote and took lead vocal on today’s effort. The group had already enjoyed success with the classic Shop Around but the song that goes on the 1001 songs list is You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.
You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me sounds like a straightforward love song but it is anything but. Robinson takes on the narrator here and sings of an individual that gives him mixed emotions. This person is someone he does not like, but loves instead. They treat him badly but he keeps coming back for more. By the song’s conclusion Robinson seems keen to break free of this troubled relationship but it isn’t that easy when you feel this strongly about them. This person has such a hold on him that he will continue to come back even though moving on might be the best thing.
The Beatles recorded a cover of this song on their second album With The Beatles and it’s from the Fab Four that I am most familiar with this song previously. It’s interesting to see how closely The Beatles followed the original which is quite a homage to The Miracles. This original take has that same delightful music and vocals to match the melody. Robinson conveys the quandary his narrator finds himself in really well. You might almost say it’s a prelude of sorts to U2’s With or Without You but that’s quite a musical reach on my part.
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)