1001 Songs Challenge #142: On Broadway (1963)
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 Drifters – On Broadway (1963)
Continuing in the US and it’s a second appearance from The Drifters with their R&B, doo-wop and soul brand of music. Such a rich combination means that we humble listeners are spoiled rotten indeed. Today’s song was originally written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and performed by other artists before being considered for The Drifters. However, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller informed Mann and Weil that the song wasn’t quite right so the quartet gathered and made some changes. What emerged was the best known version of the song, perfect for The Drifters and, indeed, perfect for our 1001 Songs.
On Broadway sees The Drifters take on a struggling narrator who has come to Broadway in New York. It’s a great place to be with bright neon lights and the women that one finds there are rather beautiful, so it’s all good. Except it isn’t. Our narrator has little money, hardly a few coins in their pockets so the glitz and glamour that Broadway promises is not within their grasp, at least not yet. Our narrator is down about the whole thing but though they have little in the way of material possessions, they do have dreams, dreams of stardom on Broadway and one day they will make those dreams come true.
It’s great to see The Drifters again on this list and I am sad to say I had not heard On Broadway before. Suffice to say, I absolutely loved this one. The lead vocal is calm but has poignancy to it and those knockout lyrics really tug at the heartstrings. The sad reality is those who dream of stardom far outweigh the ones that make it to the big time, and even there your star often burns only for a short time. Unless you’re lucky of course. The accompanying music is also wonderful here, especially that guitar that sweeps in when you least expect it.
Favourite songs so far:
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)
The Drifters – On Broadway (1963)