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…
Bettye Swann – Today I Started Loving You Again (1972)
We’re leaving New York but staying in the US, dear reader, as we make our way over to Louisiana. We’re in the company of Bettye Swann today. Soul was her specialty and in the 1960s and 1970s she tried to carve out a successful career, having some peaks, but in the end too many troughs. We join her in 1972 when she recorded a cover version of Today I Started Loving You Again, which was written by Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens. Although many artists have attempted the track, 1001 Songs has gone with Swann’s effort.
Today I Started Loving You Again sees Bettye Swann’s narrator in a painful cycle of love and hate. She has seen a relationship with her lover come to an end and the whole experience has been mighty unpleasant, to say the least. The good news is that the narrator has reached a point where their heartache isn’t so severe and they might be ready to move on. After all, they have cried many tears over this guy. Unfortunately, having now reached this point of emotional stability, the narrator quickly descends back into the longing and misery of missing their lost love. Whereas before they felt the pain would go by no longer loving this person, they now find they are still in love with them and that they were fooling themselves to think otherwise. They are not ready yet to accept this loss of love.
This is a really sombre song that beautifully captures the difficulty of heartbreak that many of us have been through or will experience in our lifetimes. It’s not a good place to be. Bettye Swann’s voice is poignant here and she beautifully conveys a narrator who cannot break this lovesick cycle they find themselves in. Success would elude Swann despite a promising start in the 1960s. When her husband/manager, George Barton, died in 1980 her music career ended. She turned to teaching and later retired, never to return to music.
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 Kinks – Days (1968)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Carly Simon – You’re So Vain (1972)