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…
Dusty Springfield – I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself (1964)
It’s still 1964 and we’re back on a plane today across the Atlantic to the UK, my home and the setting for some truly great music and artists still to come. I’m assuming so at least. Anyway, we have one such artist today making her first appearance on the 1001 Songs list. Dusty Springfield became one of the icons of the Swinging Sixties and garnered a loyal following in the decades that followed. From her early collection we have a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David which Springfield took on and made her own – I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself.
There’s nothing like a song about heartbreak to boost your mood and with I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself, we have such emotions in droves. Springfield takes us through proceedings with some truly heartrending imagery about a lost soul missing the one they used to be with. She tells us of planning things for two and in the chorus hits hard on the heart strings by singing of a rose in the summer that needs both the sun and the rain to thrive. Our narrator is really struggling. They have so much time on their hands it hurts but immersing themselves in parties and other gatherings is doing nothing to ease their pain. Only one person can make things better.
I don’t recall hearing Dusty Springfield’s version of this song. Being the ignorant soul that I am, my first affiliation with this song came courtesy of The White Stripes who delivered a fantastic, albeit rockier, version. Dusty Springfield takes us through a gentler and more sombre ballad of heartbreak. Her voice is beautiful and the pain she conveys with the lyrics is very real. Her career would go on for many years though sadly ended in 1999 as a result of cancer. Dusty Springfield was only 59. Which version of the song do I prefer? I don’t think they warrant comparison as both are completely different takes on a great song.
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)
Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (1964)
Mina – E se domani (1964)
Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come (1964)