1001 Songs Challenge,  1960s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #158: Dancing in the Street (1964)

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…


Martha & The Vandellas – Dancing in the Street (1964)

We’ve travelled quite a bit of late so inevitably we’re staying on in the US today. Yesterday, we had Sam Cooke singing of change but today we’re taking in some Motown. This song was written by William Stevenson, Marvin Gaye (a quite famous singer!) and Ivy Jo Hunter. It was eventually offered to a girl group by the name of Martha & The Vandellas who specialised in a range of genres but when they recorded Dancing in the Street it would become their best known hit record.

Dancing in the Street has a pretty simple concept which suits me. It was said to be inspired by the sight of people cooling off in the spray from fire hydrants on a hot summer’s day, where their movements were akin to dancing. The song itself is a call to everyone, to the whole world, to listen to music and get out on the street and dancing. Everyone is invited to this global danceathon. You needn’t worry about your attire for that isn’t important. What does matter is that everyone dances. 

I was familiar with this song prior to beginning my musical journey through the ages. Various artists would cover Dancing in the Street after Martha & The Vandellas with The Mamas & the Papas being notable but perhaps the biggest success would come with the duet from David Bowie and Mick Jagger in the 1980s when they took the song on. No disrespect to Mick and David but the nod has to go to Martha & The Vandellas for their original rendition. It is bursting with energy and you’ll enjoy your tour of the US as multiple cities are mentioned. If you’re brave, you might even be inclined to dance. I wasn’t but I did harbour the thought and that’s better than nothing.


Favourite songs so far:

Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (1958)

Ritchie Valens – La Bamba (1958)

Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)

The Everly Brothers – All I Have to Do Is Dream (1958)

Edith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien (1960)

Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)

Roy Orbison – In Dreams (1963)

Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (1964)

Mina – E se domani (1964)

Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come (1964)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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