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…
Nina Simone – Aint’ Got No; I Got Life (1968)
Continuing our musical odyssey in the US we are, dear reader, and why not, this is a fine place to be hanging out. Today, we welcome back Nina Simone who last appeared in 1965 with Sinnerman. Today we have a medley of songs that she performed in the guise of Ain’t Got No and I Got Life, both taken from the musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. Despite the many performances of Hair over the years, it is Nina Simone that gets the nod here for her renditions.
Being a medley, we’ll consider the songs one at a time. Ain’t Got No sees Simone as a narrator who begins by listing the many things that they do not have. Such examples include material possessions and even education. It seems that the narrator has nothing. However, the song becomes more optimistic as they begin to list the things they do have which are the many traits that make them who they are as an individual. For the final part of the medley, we switch to I Got Life and here the narrator hammers home how they compensate for having next to nothing. They have their life and that is worth everything.
This was a welcome return to our 1001 Songs from Nina Simone. As with Sinnerman her voice here is powerful and dominates the music. This particular medley clocks in at just over two minutes but it feels longer given the amount of lyrics that Simone gets through. I haven’t seen the musical, Hair, but based on this inspiring medley, I intend to explore the show further and sample some of the other music.
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)