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…
Diahann Carroll & The Andre Previn Trio – It Ain’t Necessarily So (1959)
” It Ain’t Necessarily So” is a popular song with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. The song comes from the Gershwins’ opera Porgy and Bess ( 1935) where it is sung by the character Sportin’ Life, a drug dealer, who expresses his doubt about several statements in the Bible.
Well, here we are, it’s the end of the 1950s and what a journey we have had through this wonderful decade. There’s been some great music along the way but all good things must come to an end. To round off the decade we have a song written by George and Ira Gershwin and one that was used in the musical, Porgy and Bess (1935). A 1959 film version of the musical included an actor named Diahann Carroll but her singing parts were dubbed by another artist. Harsh. Carroll teamed up with jazz outfit The Andre Previn Trio and together they recorded the version of It Ain’t Necessarily So that is considered worthy of this list. Karma?
In the original musical, It Ain’t Necessarily So was sung by a drug dealer by the name of Sportin’ Life who was putting the world to rights. Carroll takes up the vocal here and we listen intently as she sings of the Bible and of some of the famous events one can find within its pages. Mention is made of David and Goliath, Jonah and the whale, Moses and the Pharaoh, and even the 900 year old Methuselah. For each addition to the Bible, we have Carroll reminding us with the title that one can doubt such stories for their authenticity. I’m not getting involved in that debate, merely analysing what I think is going on in this song.
I had a feeling of Billie Holliday while I listened to Diahann Carroll’s voice. Her delightful vocals take us slowly through this number, the jazz musicians in the background going along carefully with the pacing. Hearing how good Carroll’s voice is made me sad to think her vocals were not used in Porgy and Bess but it’s great to see recognition for her collaboration with Andre Previn on this list. This is a good song to round off our time in the 1950s. It’s been a real privilege but there is barely a chance to catch breath, for tomorrow we must continue our musical odyssey in the 1960s. I understand it was a quiet and uneventful decade!
Favourite songs so far: