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…
Anne Briggs – Blackwater Side (1971)
We’re hanging on in the UK, dear reader, and heading north from London to Nottinghamshire. Here we find a folk singer by the name of Anne Briggs who toured the UK and Ireland folk clubs regularly in the 1960s and early 1970s. From her collection, a traditional Irish folk song – Blackwater Side – whose author is unknown is 1001 Songs choice and it appeared on Briggs’ 1971 album, Anne Briggs.
Blackwater Side is a tragic love story about a young woman who is betrayed by her boyfriend who intends to marry her. They have sex at Blackwater Side and afterwards the man tells the woman she’s given him what he wanted and now he is on his way, never to be seen by her again. The woman condemns him for breaking his promise of marrying her but the man simply dismisses her and insists she should go home to her father. He blames the woman for giving herself to him so easily. The woman is left to lament her foolishness and no longer believes that anyone will wish to marry her.
I have enjoyed some of the folk music featured previously on this list such as She Moves Through the Fair and Blackwater Side is another delightful song, although the subject matter is far from pleasant. Anne Briggs takes her time with the vocals but her voice is beautiful and the song overall is particularly poignant. Sadly, Briggs was not comfortable with the limelight, never chasing fame, and by 1973 she had a young family and moved to the Hebrides and far away from the music business. A great shame but you have to respect her decision.
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)
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)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)