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…
Randy Newman – Louisiana 1927 (1974)
It was a brief stay in the UK, dear reader, and today we are back on a plane and heading out to the US and on to California. Randy Newman previously appeared on our list back in 1972 and we’re checking back in with him two years on and things seem to be ticking along nicely with his music. Newman’s career would undergo a big change in the following decade but here 1001 Songs have found him with the track, Louisiana 1927.
Louisiana 1927 is based on the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 which caused devastation in both Mississippi and Louisiana. Newman’s song is from the perspective of a resident of Louisiana who observes the damage that the floods of water have done to the land and to the people with thousands being left homeless. Many people have survived the ordeal but others have been lost in the rushing waters. Worse follows when Newman describes a fictional visit from President Coolidge who is rather blase about the whole thing and merely describes this awful event as a “shame” rather than offering any compassion or empathy for his citizens.
This latest appearance from Randy Newman is equally as memorable as Sail Away. Newman’s narrator captures the tragedy of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and gives it an almost apocalyptic feel, especially when stating that it feels like all of Louisiana is going to be washed away by the unrelenting waters. Newman’s career would continue to thrive in the 1970s but in the following decade he would focus primarily on film composing and today can boast numerous Academy Award nominations and scoring an impressive selection of Pixar movies.
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)