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…

 

Stan Getz & João Gilberto – The Girl from Ipanema (1964)

We leave the luscious Italian shores behind and fly across the Atlantic back down to South America. No stay in Peru this time, folks. Instead, we’re landing in mesmerising Brazil and taking in the sun, sights and music known as Bossa nova. This became very popular in the 1950s and 1960s and the two artists featured today played a big part in that. Saxophonist, Stan Getz, and singer, João Gilberto, joined forces to collaborate on many songs. Today’s choice – The Girl from Ipanema would prove popular worldwide and see the likes of Frank Sinatra covering it. 

The Girl from Ipanema is sung by Gilberto in Portuguese but then his wife, Astrud, also recorded vocals with hers being in English. The song focuses on the girl of the title and we hear that she is tall, tanned, lovely and when she walks she is akin to the heavens. The narrator is clearly in love with this girl but, sadly, when he smiles she does not see him, for she looks straight ahead as she walks to the beach and gazes out at the ocean. The narrator longs for something to happen between them but it doesn’t look like anything ever will. He could try talking to her, I suppose.  

This was a slow but rather delightful song and if all Brazilian music is like this then I must sample more. João Gilberto takes the vocals first before Astrud Gilberto then takes over. Her singing is briefly interrupted by Stan Getz with his saxophone but we return once more to Astrud to see us through the remainder of the song. The music is truly beautiful and both vocals, Astrud’s in particular, are simply wonderful.

 

Favourite songs so far:

Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (1958)

Ritchie Valens – La Bamba (1958)

Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)

The Everly Brothers – All I Have to Do Is Dream (1958)

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)

Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (1964)

Mina – E se domani (1964)

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