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 – My Way (1969)
It’s goodbye to 1968, dear reader, and hello to 1969. Wow! This wonderful decade is almost behind us. I can’t believe it. Anyway, we open 1969 with a trip back to the US and the return of Frank Sinatra, “Ol’ Blue Eyes” himself. In the late sixties, Sinatra was feeling weary of the music business but was revitalised thanks to fellow singer, Paul Anka. Anka bought the rights to the French song, Comme d’habitude, and with the music he composed My Way, which would become one of Sinatra’s signature songs.
Paul Anka wrote My Way with Frank Sinatra in mind, taking inspiration from his life. In the song, we have five verses that the narrator takes us through. He is at the end of his life now and looking back on his many years in this world. We hear about the highs and lows, the successes and regrets, but despite all of this our narrator ends each verse the same. He concludes that whatever happened, whatever path his life took he did everything “my way” and for that reason alone it sounds like he will die happy and content with his existence. Perhaps Sinatra shared the same sentiment when he passed away three decades after this song was released.
My Way is one of those songs that many people will be familiar with. Sinatra’s version is the definitive recording but many artists such as Elvis Presley and even Sid Vicious have had a go at this one over the years. Paul Anka’s lyrics, composed in the early hours of the night, are beautifully put together and it was quite a gift that he bestowed upon Sinatra who loved the song immediately and whose recording of My Way moved Anka to tears. Sadly, it is said that Sinatra grew to hate the song in his later years, which is a shame as it is a testament to his powerful voice.
Favourite songs so far:
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 Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (1968)
The Kinks – Days (1968)