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…

 

Georges Brassens – Les copains d’abord (1964)

From motorbikes to boats today, dear reader, and with the transport transition it’s also time to leave the US once more. Back across the Atlantic we go and into France. I hope the temperature has dipped as it was very hot when we last stopped by. Today’s guest is a gentleman by the name of Georges Brassens who sang with his acoustic guitar (playing it, I mean, not some peculiar duo singing on stage) and also wrote poetry as well. From Brassens’ prolific career we have Les copain d’abord. You know the drill. It’s time for Google translate!

Les copain d’abord translates as Friends First and is the name of a ship that Brassens is on with his friends. He proceeds to tell us about not just the ship but about this quirky group of friends he has. They are not described as devout readers of the Bible, they can be troublesome, but on the ship together the crew are a band of brothers and loyal to one another. At one point Brassens describes the idea of a gap in the line of friends and how that would only happen if one of them had died, that’s how close they are. Most verses end with the phrase “Friends first of all” so the song is both the name of the ship but also the motto that these close companions live by. 

As touched on earlier, Brassens was not backed by a large band when singing his songs so they rely largely on his voice to carry them to the audience. Les copains d’abord sounds wonderful and lyrically it’s a nautical nostalgia trip, a celebration of being out on the water and being with your friends. I did like, in particular, how Brassens identified flaws in his friends, their idiosyncracies, but he wouldn’t swap anyone of them for the world. We could all use friends like those, right?

 

Favourite songs so far:

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)

The Ronettes – Be My Baby (1963)

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