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…
Camaron de la Isla – Soy gitano (1989)
We’re leaving the UK today, dear reader, and making our way to San Fernando in Spain. Camaron de la Isla began his career in 1969 and built a reputation over the next two decades as one of the greatest flamenco singers of all time. When we join him in 1989 it is with the release of a song by the name of Soy gitano.
Soy gitano translates as I am gipsy. In the song it sounds like we are dealing with heartbreak. The narrator describes the myriad surroundings and the places that bring him comfort. However, in the chorus we hear that he is gatecrashing someone’s wedding and is going to tear his shirt, clearly making a spectacle and declaring his feelings. There are worse places to do this, I suppose. It is clear that the woman getting married is our narrator’s former lover and he has been stewing for some time in her absence. Now it is her wedding day he has decided there is one final chance to declare his feelings.
Soy gitano is a splendid piece with an orchestral backing but it is driven by the acoustic guitar and de la Isla’s loud and powerful vocals. Even in Spanish you get the feel of both pain and joy in the delivery of the words. Camaron de la Isla sounds in great form here but, sadly, just three years later he was dead at the age of 41. Years of drug abuse and heavy smoking had taken their toll but it was lung cancer that ultimately did for the flamenco maestro.
Favourite songs so far: