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…
Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim – Corcovado (1967)
We’re staying in the US today, dear reader, but are combining music from two countries. Antonio Carlos Jobim, from Brazil and the so-called father of bossa nova which we have heard on this list before, teamed up with Frank Sinatra to record an album in 1967. This Grammy nominated album, which lost out to The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, fused influences with Sinatra’s voice being accompanied by Jobim’s piano, while the big bands that tended to support the US singer were gone in favour of a more delicate sound. From their collaboration, 1001 Songs has gone with Corcovado, also known as Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars.
In the song, Sinatra takes on a narrator who has not been enjoying life for a while but now all is well. He has met someone and the love they share has completed him. Sinatra sets the scene with a list of quiet “things” such as the nights and stars, as well as streams and even dreams. He is in full on swooning mode here. A glance out of the window allows one to behold the mountains and the sea. It sounds like a beautiful idyll but Sinatra can only conjure up the word “lovely” to try and capture the view. He doesn’t want this moment to end. He wants to stay in this time until the very end of life for surely existence does not get any better than this.
I enjoyed this change of scene from Frank Sinatra and how refreshing it must have been for fans and critics alike to see him dabble in Brazilian music. Nothing wrong with a bit of bossa nova. Jobim’s backing to Sinatra’s voice is restrained but bountiful, the music sweeping along with a gentle melody. It’s perfectly apt for that title of Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars. It takes you to a peaceful moment, one of reflection and gratitude for having good things in one’s life. A delightful piece.
Favourite songs so far:
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody (1965)
The Who – Substitute (1966)
The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby (1966)
The Monkees – I’m a Believer (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)