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…
The Beatles – Ticket to Ride (1965)
From dreaming of California yesterday to flying back to my homeland in the UK today. Once landed we head north to the city of Liverpool. Now, the word on the street is that today’s group – known as The Beatles – had one or two mildly successful hits in the 1960s but nothing to really get excited about! You could take them or leave them really. I jest, of course, dear reader. The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – were arguably the greatest group in music history, scoring a huge amount of hits in their brief time together and recording some of the finest albums the world has ever known, with their later work in particular marking a remarkable transition in style and complexity from their earliest work. 1001 Songs has opted to bypass some of the early hits and we first pick up the Fab Four’s story with Ticket to Ride.
One of many chart toppers for The Beatles, Ticket to Ride is an ambiguous song. On the surface it seems to be about a girl who has left the narrator, she no longer loves him, and she has got herself a ticket to a new destination far away from him. He isn’t happy about it either. Paul McCartney acknowledged that American interpretations that the ticket was a railway ticket and that the “Ride” of the title was in reference to Ryde on the Isle of Wight were partly correct. However, John Lennon who – depending on who you believe – wrote all or most of the song is said to have coined the phrase “ticket to ride” in reference to prostitutes in Hamburg who were given a clean bill of health in the form of a card they carried around while plying their trade. This may or may not have been Lennon joking so it’s hard to say. I’m inclined to stick with the first interpretation of the girl leaving the narrator behind which seems to make more sense. Honestly, John, what are you like?
I had always enjoyed The Beatles growing up but only ever heard their hits so it wasn’t until I met my wife, Donna, and was convinced to listen to their albums that I truly came to love the group. Ticket to Ride is a great song, no question, but for me it isn’t one of The Beatles’ better ones. It features on the Help! Album which was the last record that was what I would consider pop music from the group. After this, their style changed dramatically. There are stronger songs on the album in my opinion such as The Night Before and It’s Only Love. I’m an unusual fan though, dear reader, for I also consider the much-loved Yesterday to be one of the weaker efforts. The songs that became singles are wonderful but to truly get to the heart of The Beatles you need to listen to the albums especially the likes of Revolver, Rubber Soul, Abbey Road and Sgt Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band. I doubt this will be the last we’ll see of The Beatles on this list. I’m intrigued to see what comes next.
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)
The Righteous Brothers – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling (1964)
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Bert Jansch – Needle of Death (1965)
The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin’ (1965)