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 Seekers – The Carnival Is Over (1965)
We leave the US and take in the company of a group from a land Down Under. It isn’t Men at Work, they might come later, much later. Instead, we’re being entertained by The Seekers who were very popular back in the 1960s and can still be heard to audiences around the globe to this day. The Seekers had some classic hits such as Georgy Girl and I’ll Never Find Another You, but 1001 Songs has opted for one of their biggest sellers – The Carnival is Over. The music was taken from a Russian song dating back to the 19th century but the lyrics were written by Tom Springfield, brother of Dusty, who penned this particular song specially for The Seekers.
The Carnival is Over sees the narrator sing of someone they love but this isn’t a happy moment. The Carnival is coming to an end and with it the two lovers are separating to unspecified but seemingly distant places. The song evokes some striking images of breaking hearts, tears falling like rain and a heart beating like a drum as the end approaches. The love between the couple seems intense but the narrator is powerless to prevent this separation and can only despair at the passing of their happiness along with the carnival.
I have known this song for quite some time and never tire of hearing it. The Russian-influenced music is a majestic melody in the background, while the supporting vocals contribute to the sweetest harmony. However, the strength of the song is undoubtedly in the voice of Judith Durham. Her vocals rise above all the music and not a note is out of place as she expresses the sorrow of the narrator. Simply beautiful to hear. The Seekers did not record a better song than this, in my opinion, and I am delighted to see it on this list.
Favourite songs so far:
Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (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)
The Righteous Brothers – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling (1964)
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin’ (1965)
The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1965)
The Seekers – The Carnival is Over (1965)