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 Edwin Hawkins Singers – Oh Happy Day (1968)
We’re staying in the US today, dear reader, and taking in some sun in California as well as a bit of gospel. Today’s guests have a fascinating back story. Edwin Hawkins and Betty Watson founded Northern California State Youth Choir of the Church of God in Christ in 1967. They wanted to take the choir to a competition in Washington DC so recorded an album to raise funds for the venture. On that album was Oh Happy Day which Hawkins adapted from a 19th century song. The choir didn’t win the competition but their song was picked up by radio, released as The Edwin Hawkins Singers and – by today’s terminology – went viral.
Oh Happy Day has limited lyrics but it is a religious song and one that pays particular tribute to Jesus Christ. In the song, the choirs rejoice at the day being a happy one. Why is the day so happy? Well, it’s because Jesus has washed away the sins of those that have come to him in their hour of need. Now purified of their sin, they embrace the day and revel in the sheer emotion of the moment. The choir goes on to say that Jesus has now taught them how to watch, how to fight and how to pray. They are euphoric and want to spread this message of love to the rest of the world.
I loved the background to the choir and how this song was picked up by record companies to become such a big hit. I’m not a religious person but I have always said if I was that I would like to attend a gospel church, not that I have the vocals for it, you understand. Oh Happy Day is an uplifting song, whatever your faith may be, and The Edwin Hawkins Singers really gave it their all on the recording and were justly rewarded for their efforts.
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 Who – Substitute (1966)
The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)