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…
Roy Orbison – In Dreams (1963)
Fresh from honouring 4 July in the US, we’re continuing our stay and enjoying here in this pleasant land and embracing the work of an artist who was held in the highest regard by Elvis Presley. The King even said at one stage this guy was the best singer in the world. We are, of course, referring to Roy Orbison who was renowned for his melodies and for having a unique voice as well. Orbison’s back catalogue is a diamond mine but from his compositions the 1001 Songs has chosen In Dreams.
In Dreams begins with Orbison singing of the Sandman who comes to his room and invites him into the land of slumber and it turns out this is a pretty good place to be. Once Orbison falls asleep he begins to sing of his lover and how they are together all of the time, hand in hand, and at ease with one another. It’s a real idyll to be found in dreamland. Then, the dreams melt away as Orbison wakes and reality hits home as he remembers his lover has now gone and left him. He is all alone and only in dreams can he lose himself and be with her once again. That’s deep stuff, Roy.
In Dreams is rather unique in that it doesn’t adhere to a verse chorus pattern as many songs do. Each verse here is different and the accompanying music alters as we move from one verse to the next. Also changing is Orbison’s voice. At the start it is peaceful, quiet and tender. By the time he reaches that final verse his voice is amplified and hits home the pain he feels at being alone. The song is a masterclass in depicting Orbison’s impressive vocal range. It’s said he once kept The Beatles off stage while touring the UK, playing through 14 encores before John Lennon and Paul McCartney stopped him heading out for another. What began as a frosty relationship between Orbison and The Beatles soon mellowed into mutual respect and with songs such as In Dreams it isn’t hard to understand why Roy Orbison appealed so much to his fellow artists but to music fans alike.
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)
Roy Orbison – In Dreams (1963)