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…
Elvis Presley – Tomorrow Is a Long Time (1966)
After a lot of globetrotting in the last few days, dear reader, we’re back in familiar territory which is the US. No doubt the US has featured more on this list than any other country and today we are back in the company of the King, alias Elvis Presley. Elvis has featured a couple of times already on our musical odyssey and today we have a song from his collection that I was not previously familiar with. Written by Bob Dylan in 1962, Tomorrow Is a Long Time, was covered by Elvis in 1966 and it’s his version considered worthiest of our 1001 Songs. Sorry, Bob.
Tomorrow Is a Long Time is a slow but poignant song with the narrator throwing in some truly stunning imagery to convey the despair and loneliness that they are feeling. The narrator appears to looking to tomorrow to see his lover but it’s a painful wait. He captures the loneliness he feels by comparing day to an “endless highway” while the night is an “endless trail”. The beautiful scenery that can be taken in has no impact or meaning on the narrator; he cannot appreciate such aesthetically pleasing testaments of the world even though they surround him. In the chorus, he tells us that he could only find comfort knowing his love was waiting for him and if she was lying by his side he could sleep. This makes me wonder whether he really is seeing her tomorrow or whether she is gone (left him or passed away) and each day now expands into near infinity as a result. Whatever the answer, it’s grim stuff.
I’m not a connoisseur of Elvis Presley’s songs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard many of the hits but was not familiar with this one. The King takes his time, his slow and sombre vocals capturing the narrator’s plight exceptionally well. Bob Dylan apparently said that all of the cover versions he heard of his songs, this one by Elvis was his favourite. I could think of some rivals to that claim, such as Jimi Hendrix with All Along the Watchtower, but there is no question that Elvis was clearly still going strong in 1966 with this effort.
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)