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…
Simón Díaz – Caballo Viejo (1980)
We’re leaving the UK behind today, dear reader, and we are taking a very long flight across the Atlantic Ocean and making our way down to Venezuela in South America. I do not recall coming here before though we have been to South America when we were sampling bossanova during one our trips to Brazil. Anyway, today we have Simón Díaz, one of the most popular Venezuelan singers of all time. We join him in 1980 with his most famous song – Caballo Viejo.
Caballo Viejo translates as “old horse” and is said to have been inspired by Diaz becoming enamoured with a backing singer who was much younger than him. I’m not sure if anything romantic took place but Diaz put his feelings into song and uses the metaphor of horses to capture the emotion. We have the image of an old horse in the field, resigned to his final years grazing peacefully, but then love comes along and he is suddenly alive again and full of hope. The old horse is dazzled by a young filly and it sounds like he pursues her for the reality is he has this one chance being in the twilight of his own life.
This is my first experience of Venezuelan folk music and it was certainly interesting. I find the metaphor of the horse to be cute rather than sordid. Diaz is having fun with the silliness that can come with being in love and imagining all kinds of happy ever after scenarios. In a long and rich career as a singer, actor and radio show host, Diaz was very much the darling of Venezuela and rightly so. He sadly died in 2014 at the age of 85 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
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)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)
The Police – Message in a Bottle (1979)
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)
Ultravox – Vienna (1980)