Album no. 1/1001
In The Wee Small Hours kicks off the 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die, and to be honest, it’s a bit of a downer to start with.
This album has developed a reputation as being one of the very first albums about breaking up – so don’t expect big horns, jazzy interludes or any “I did it my way” gusto on this record.
This is an album about a bloke who’s lost his lady-friend, is feeling pretty low and is trying to figure out what went wrong and why he’s such a rubbish person that she left him in the first place.
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: Oh my yes. A very dear friend of mine passed this album onto me when we were back at uni – I don’t really remember what the reason for this was…But I do remember the first time I listened to it. I was in my car driving home, it was a cold night, and it was one of those wonderfully cliched movie moments, filled with the warbling of old mate Frankie. Would 10/10 recommend if you want to feel like you’re in a black and white movie.
NK: No. I don’t know much about Sinatra. I like ‘Swinging on a Star’?
CL: ‘Glad to Be Unhappy’. The illustrious Billie Holiday also does a lovely version of this. But having listened to this album again, I’ve got a soft spot for ‘Deep in a Dream’ as well.
NK: I like the title track. Every song sounds like it should be playing over the opening credits of a black and white movie that my mum said was really good but she hasn’t actually seen all the way through.
When is the best time to listen to this?
CL: My recommendation would be to pop this on when you’re feeling particularly glum about a lady or a gentleman. You know. Things haven’t worked out. You’re totally alone and just want to have a bit of a sad time. It’s the original heartbreak album for a reason. Grab a cheeky whisky, turn the lights off and have a little cry.
NK: When you’re the lone-wolf, tarnished knight, main character in a hardboiled detective story and your best girl has run off with your partner leaving you to crack the case on your lonesome. So you know, the usual.
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: Obviously you can’t have a list like this and not include Mr Sinatra – I mean, he’s kind of a big deal. But this particular album I think is one of the first to embrace the album as a concept; it does an excellent job of capturing the melancholy of a broken relationship.
NK: This discussion definitely took place.
Sinatra: You know how some albums, right, they have sad songs on them?
Sinatra: Imagine an album…with ONLY sad songs.
Producer: Wait, you’re saying there will be no happy songs?
Producer: What about love songs?
Sinatra: Oh, all the songs are about love. They’re just about love not working out.
Producer: You goddamn genius Frank! Nobody has ever even tried this before. All sad songs! Why didn’t I think of this years ago? We’re going to be rich!
Sinatra: My wife is gone and I am broken inside.
Will you be listening again?
CL: While it’s not the sort of thing you chuck on for a bit of light-hearted background music, it definitely has it’s place. So yes, yes I will.
NK: I doubt it. Not that it’s bad, but my breakups have already been soundtracked by other albums. Sorry Frank.
Out of context youtube comment