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…
Léo Ferré – Avec le temps (1970)
We’re leaving the US today, dear reader, and heading over to Monaco, the second smallest country in the world apparently. Here we find Léo Ferré who, after the Second World War, had a long and distinguished career in French music circles. He was particularly lauded in the 1960s and 1970s and this is where 1001 Songs has dipped into his plentiful collection with Avec le temps.
Avec le temps was written by Léo Ferré and the title translates to “with time”. The song was inspired partly by a recent separation that Ferré had experienced and this comes through in the overall mood of the piece. The imagery is not the easiest to decipher; the message is rather ambiguous, but the narrator reminisces about an unnamed other and speaks of their general disillusionment with the world all around them. The chorus seems to imply that with time things do improve but the saddest part of the track is the final lines which echo both loneliness but also the unforgiving and relentless passage of time, how the years passing ultimately do not bring comfort at all, as was previously suggested.
It will come as no surprise, dear reader, when I tell you that I had never heard of Léo Ferré and also that I had to consult a translation to understand what the song was about. My linguistic naivete continues to shine through. The piece itself is beautifully sung by Ferré while the vivid imagery, not always easy to define, still strikes a powerful chord within you. Ferré continued to release music into his final years. He died in 1993 aged 76.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
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)
King Crimson – The Court of the Crimson King (1969)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)