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…
Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares – Kalimankou denkou (1975)
We’re leaving Florida and the US behind today, dear reader, and we’re flying across the Atlantic to Europe. We’re heading down southeast towards Bulgaria. I’m pretty sure we haven’t been here before on this journey so it’s a privilege to try a different country. Anyway, Swiss producer, Marcel Cellier, spent 15 years compiling music from Bulgarian folk circles with some recordings being what Cellier himself worked on, while others came from radio archives. 1001 Songs has lifted the track, Kalimankou denkou, which was performed by the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Choir.
Kalimankou denkou translates as The Evening Gathering and the choir here is led by a solo performance from Yanka Rupkina. Translations were hard to come by but I stumbled upon one suggestion that says the choir are singing from the perspective of a young man who has worshipped a Mother Goddess in childhood, but now as an adult he has fallen in love with her. My linguistic failures cannot shed much further light here and lyrically there is not a lot to the song which is made up of only a couple of verses. However, it is the sumptuous voices that truly make this one soar.
The compilation album which featured Kalimankou denkou was very much a labour of love for Marcel Cellier. A lot of the music on there and indeed the performers themselves are shrouded in mystery. This is ultimately a great shame, for the choir here is stunning and deserved far greater recognition for their efforts. Their voices simply transcend beauty and although I am nonplussed about what the song is about, I can still appreciate this piece for its passion and glory.
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)
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)
Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us (1974)