On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge 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 every day (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… legendary!
Ofra Haza – Im Nin’ Alu (1984)
We’re leaving Scotland and the UK behind, dear reader, and making our way over to the Middle East and to Israel. Ofra Haza began her career at the age of 12 in the theatre and her talent for singing would soon see her enjoying a prestigious career in music. When we pick up her story in 1984 it is taking a 17th century Hebrew poem by Rabbi Shalom Shabbazi and singing the verse along with music. The song in question is Im Nin’ Alu.
Im Nin’ Alu translates as If the doors are shut and the piece is an appraisal of god. It argues that even if the doors of the righteous are found to be closed to an individual, they can always count on the doors to Heaven being open for this is a just and benevolent god that watches over the world. We hear of the sacred animals close to God’s throne and being as blessed and as cherished as human beings. The song is one of hope for the faithful, a reminder that no matter what may happen in their life there is always a door open for them to return to God when their time on this world comes to an end.
Ofra Haza sings the song in the Hebrew language it was written in so I needed a translation to help me out with the words. I was blown away by the beauty of Haza’s vocals. I have heard many stunning voices in my years on this world but Ofra Haza’s vocals belong on a celestial plain. Im Nin’ Alu would find an audience in Europe and even propel Haza to collaborations with many other artists. Sadly, her career was cut tragically short when she died from AIDS related pneumonia in 2000 at the age of 42.
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)
Ultravox – Vienna (1980)
Don Henley – The Boys of Summer (1984)
The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? (1984)