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…
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66 – Mas que nada (1966)
We’re leaving the US behind today and flying on down south to Brazil. It’s not the first time we have been here, having previously sampled the likes of bossa nova, but it’s still a pleasure to be back here. Today’s song was originally written by Jorge Ben but the best known version comes from Sergio Mendes who recorded it for the first time in 1966 and it became is best known song. Mendes would even revisit the song in 2006 with The Black Eyed Peas but it is the original effort that gets the nod here.
Mas que nada translates as a Brazilian expression of disagreeing with someone, a sort of rebuttal such as “Yeah, right” or “Puh-lease”. In terms of the song itself there are not a lot of lyrics but as we’ve seen before not all songs need many words. It makes reference to dancing the samba and the narrator is saying to another individual to get out of the way as they want to head out onto the streets to take part in this memorable dance. There is a reference also to maracatu, a myriad of performances that originated in northeast Brazil. This samba, we are told, is super cool and the narrator doesn’t want it to come to an end.
When Mas que nada popped up as the next song on this list I thought to myself I have never heard of this. Then, I heard the opening lyrics of “Oriá raiô” and my ears pricked up. I knew I had come across this before. It will have been in films or TV shows, I can’t recall which ones, but I have definitely come across it on multiple occasions. It is a lovely sample of Brazilian music and Mas que nada has cemented its place as one of the country’s greatest musical exports. It still wouldn’t convince me to get up and dance but I doubt a stick of dynamite would do that either so that’s not a criticism of what is a great song!
Favourite songs so far:
Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin’ (1965)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody (1965)
The Who – Substitute (1966)
The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon (1966)
The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)