I bought a book at Half-Price books last Saturday, called 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die. That sounded like a challenge me, so I grabbed it. I didn’t waste too much time getting started, thanks to my subscription to Rhapsody. I have the Rhapsody app on my iPhone, so I can listen to anything they have in their catalog. The recordings are listed alphabetically by artist, and there is a brief written description for each one, including the author’s (Tom Moon, by the way) idea of “key tracks” on the recording. He also lists, for each recording, what he calls the “next stop,” that being “a recording by a different artist whose work is somehow related to (or similar to) the work discussed in the entry.” Then there is another suggestion, called “after that,” which is “a recording that is less directly related, and may represent a slightly larger leap.” Very interesting.
So I got started yesterday. I brought the book to work with me, and looked at the first entry. First up is “Gold” by ABBA. The author’s description says “The craft of the hit song.” So I listened to ABBA yesterday morning. I remember them…I think I was in high school when they started, maybe early college. This recording was not released until 1992, however. 19 tracks long, it starts with “Dancing Queen,” and ends with “Waterloo.” It also includes “SOS,” “Take A Chance On Me,” and “Fernando.” There are several that I don’t remember ever hearing, but it was a fun little ride through the past. The author’s “next stop” was “Life” by The Cardigans. “After that” was “Rio,” by Duran Duran.
The second recording I listened to yesterday was “Blu Blu Blu” by The Muhal Richard Abrams Orchestra. Yeah…I never heard of them either. Jazz, baby. “Effortless, unpredictable free jazz,” according to the author. Released in 1991, this recording was quite enjoyable. This is real jazz. None of the Kenny G junk (that’s not real jazz, I don’t care what you say). Sorry if anyone reading this likes Kenny G. Easy listening. Elevator music. The title track is one of the key tracks, and is a nice melodic jazz tune that has a blues feel to it. In fact, it is a tribute to Muddy Waters. “Next stop” is “Urban Bushmen” by Art Ensemble of Chicago (also in the book). “After that” is “Too Much Sugar for a Dime” by Henry Threadgill.
Today, I’m listening to (almost finished with) “Shakin’ the Rafters” by The Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir. It does, too! It is described as “What 120 zealous souls can do.” Released in 1960, this live recording features songs by their director, Alex Bradford. It’s an absolutely marvelous gospel choir recording. The author’s key tracks are “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody,” and “He Is Such An Understanding God.” I would include “I Want To Ride That Glory Train” and “He Stays In My Room.” I still have three tracks to go at this writing. One song that sounded nice, but had some theological issues was “Heaven Belongs To You.” It started out with “If you live right, Heaven belongs to you,” then said, “If you pray right, Heaven belongs to you,” then even said, “If you sing right, Heaven belongs to you.” Wow. I’m glad that’s wrong…a lot of people would be in trouble, wouldn’t they, if entry to Heaven depended on how they sang?? Hahaha…But it’s gospel music, which never paid real close attention to theology.
So far…three recordings that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll keep you updated on my progress. I don’t expect to listen to two of them every day. I figure it should take me around three years to listen to them all (that is IF I can find them all…there’s already one that isn’t in Rhapsody’s catalog). Oh…except for one detail. My wife has told me that I can’t listen to number 1000 until she tells me she’s ready to go.