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 Preachers – Who Do You Love (1965)
We’re continuing in the US today, dear reader, and we find ourselves in LA. Today’s song was written by Bo Diddley and was one of the best known from his repertoire – Who Do You Love. Various artists have since covered the song, including The Doors, but 1001 Songs have opted to honour The Preachers with a place on their list instead. The Preachers were a short-lived group, yielding only three singles but this cover version was good enough for consideration here.
Who Do You Love sees the narrator describing a series of intriguing and often haunting images such as 47 miles of barbed wire and a chimney made from a human skull. Delightful. The narrator is addressing a woman named Arlene and the purpose of the song seems to be one of bravado. The narrator is in competition with someone else for Arlene’s affections and proceeds to list their various qualities. Instead of opting for pleasant things like a good sense of humour and being kind, they throw in dark claims of snakes and skulls and all sorts of bizarre things. Whatever works for you, mate. Each time the narrator boasts of his qualities, he asks Arlene who she loves – him or this other person. By the end it seems Arlene may be leaning towards our narrator. She’s a strange one is our Arlene!
I recall hearing Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love previously and have come across the version by The Doors also. It is a classic song and warrants the numerous cover versions that have followed. The Preachers offer a hard rock take on the number with powerful screeching to accompany the vocals. It’s a brief, fast-paced song which is full of energy. Sadly, The Preachers had disbanded by 1966 with the members going off to form other groups instead.
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)
The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin’ (1965)
The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1965)