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!
Loretta Lynn featuring Jack White – Portland, Oregon (2004)
” Portland, Oregon” is a song written and recorded by American country singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn. In 2004, she recorded the song as a duet with American rock musician Jack White. Shortly before its recording, White discovered the song on an old paper filed away in Lynn’s attic.
We’re leaving the UK today, dear reader, and heading to Kentucky in the US. Loretta Lynn began her career in 1960 and enjoyed many decades of hits and adoring audiences. We join her in 2004 though, now in her 70s, but showing no signs of slowing down just yet. Lynn has released her forty-second album – Van Lear Rose – and producing the record is none other than Jack White of White Stripes and he would collaborate with Lynn on the song, Portland, Oregon, which gets the nod today.
Loretta Lynn wrote Portland, Oregon, some years before recording it. The story goes that Jack White was having dinner in her home and he came across the written lyrics to the track, insisting it be recorded for the new album. In the studio, Lynn was left surprised upon learning White himself would be joining her on vocals. The song itself is about an imagined affair that Lynn came up with. Her husband had been unfaithful and Lynn decided to make him jealous so she would pretend she too had been having an affair. The song captures an illicit liaison taking place in Portland and by the sound of things the meeting place is a hotel and lots of alcohol is consumed also.
Heavily driven by guitar, Portland, Oregon boasts a lovely duet between Lynn and White, as they take on the treacherous lovers meeting in the hotel. The song would prove successful upon release, as would the album which saw Loretta Lynn enjoying something of a resurgence in her later years and kudos to her and to Jack White. Lynn is now 89 and sadly suffered a stroke in 2017 that has to date brought an end to her live performances. It hasn’t stopped her producing new music though, releasing her 50th album earlier this year. Remarkable.
Favourite songs so far: