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…
Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1968)
We’re continuing in the US, dear reader, and we’re returning to Motown for one of the biggest names in the sixties. Gaye’s career would continue to flourish into the 1970s and at the outset of the 1980s before tragically being cut short. 1001 Songs has picked up Gaye’s career in 1968 and it is not surprising what song they have opted for. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, I Heard It Through the Grapevine was recorded by other artists before Marvin Gaye attempted a cover version which has since become the definitive recording.
I Heard It Through the Grapevine has Gaye take on a narrator who is currently in a relationship but things are clearly not going well. As far as the narrator was concerned, all seemed to be well, but now he has heard on the grapevine of the title that his lover is on the brink of ditching him for a former partner. How can this be? He can’t believe it but the rumour mill is in full swing. Our narrator is almost trying to convince himself that this can’t be happening, he wants to plead with his lover to tell him otherwise but he knows deep down it is over between them.
I Heard It Through the Grapevine is one of the classic songs from the sixties. That gentle introductory music makes you think you’re in for a quiet listen but then Gaye’s beautiful voice kicks in, the intensity follows and we have 3 minutes worth of anguish. Although he wasn’t responsible for the first ever recording of this song, it’s hard to imagine anyone doing it better than Marvin Gaye. Sadly, Gaye’s career would end in 1984 at the age of 44. Breaking up an argument between his parents, Gaye’s father grabbed a gun and shot his son twice. Within an hour Gaye was pronounced dead and music had lost another soul legend.
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)