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…
Dolly Parton – I Will Always Love You (1974)
We’re leaving Canada and Joni Mitchell behind, dear reader, and heading down to the US to Tennessee to catch up with the wonderful, Dolly Parton. We previously saw her in 1973 with the track, Jolene, and 1001 Songs has stuck with the same album that song came from for their consideration today. Actually, our song is one of those that most music lovers will know although they will likely be more familiar with a different version. The song in question is I Will Always Love You.
Parton wrote I Will Always Love You as a heartfelt farewell to Porter Wagoner, a country music star who had his own TV show in which Parton appeared from 1966 until 1974. Wagoner supported and mentored the young Parton but by 1974 she was ready to pursue her solo career completely. In the song, the narrator is saying farewell to an unnamed individual. They insist that this is the right thing for both of them; they to part now when feelings for one another are still strong and amicable. Despite the parting, the narrator insists they will love this other person always and that they depart wishing them nothing but the best for the future.
When you mention the song, I Will Always Love You, the majority of people will likely refer to the 1992 version performed by the late Whitney Houston. It was a global sensation upon release and a huge hit for Houston, topping the charts and selling millions. Not everyone will know that Dolly Parton wrote the original song and had her own chart success with it also. Parton also made a fortune in royalties from Houston’s cover version. Can you pick a superior version? It’s hard. Both sound very different with Parton’s vocal more restrained than Houston’s though that doesn’t take away the sheer emotion behind the track. Apparently, Parton wrote this and Jolene on the same day. That was quite a profitable 24 hours, Dolly!
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
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)
Stevie Wonder – Living for the City (1973)
Patti Smith Group – Piss Factory (1974)