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!
Macy Gray – I Try (1999)
” I Try” is a song co-written and recorded by American musician Macy Gray. It was released on September 27, 1999, outside the United States, and in North America on January 25, 2000, as the second single from her debut album, On How Life Is . It is Gray’s biggest hit to date.
We’re staying in the US, dear reader, but moving on from New York and heading to Ohio. Macy Gray began her career in 1990 writing songs and favouring R&B and soul, but it wasn’t until 1998 that she landed a record deal. When we join Gray in 1999 she has released her debut album, Oh How Life Is, and from there 1001 Songs have lifted the second single released – I Try.
In I Try, Macy Gray’s narrator is a woman who is desperately trying to move on from her lover. Either he is ending things or the relationship is turbulent and she knows he isn’t right for her and should move on. The problem is it isn’t that easy. Gray’s refrain of “I try” in the chorus sees her lament that whenever she tries to leave her man behind she simply crumbles and gets weak. In the end, she pleads with her lover for them to be together because she simply cannot be without him. You have to feel for her in this vicious cycle she is now trapped in.
Macy Gray’s second single would prove to be her biggest hit, landing in the UK and US Top 10. I remember hearing this one a lot on the radio when it was first released. It’s well written and sung by Gray who had a tremendous voice to carry the woe of the pained narrator to our hearts. Gray’s career continues to this day but I Try remains her golden moment and good enough to land her a place on our prestigious list.
Favourite songs so far: