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 Byrds – Eight Miles High (1966)
Back we go, dear reader, across the Atlantic to the US today. We are clocking up some air miles, aren’t we? Hardly good for the environment I appreciate but we’re doing hypothetical flying so, in other words, we’re doing it the right way. Anyhow, today we have a second appearance from The Byrds. They previously graced us with their version of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man but today is a composition of their own by the name of Eight Miles High, hotly disputed about who contributed what in the group to this day, but considered an influential song when it came to psychedelic music.
Now then, depending on who you believe this song is or isn’t a reference to drugs. The group wrote it in response to a tour of England and how maladjusted they felt being on these fine English shores that I call home. The “Eight Miles High” refers to the height their plane was at before descending though the correct number is supposed to be six but eight worked better and there was that song, Eight Days a Week, by The Beatles floating around too, so just go with it. “Rain gray town, Known for its sound” references the British Invasion of the US by the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and how the UK was the place to be for some of the best music at this time. The Byrds also comment on dealing with fans who congregate on street corners waiting to see them or try and approach them as they race into limousines. Their experience doesn’t sound a positive one in my homeland.
This is the first time I have heard Eight Miles High and I will admit my knowledge of The Byrds is minimal save Mr. Tambourine Man. The drug references do escape me on first listen but I do get the sense of unease in being in a foreign land. The UK seems dark and dreary for The Byrds, a stark contrast to their home back in California. There is an ethereal feel to this, so I can see the nods of psychedelia coming through, so probably a good one to listen to for those going on drug trips at this time. Never interested me, good reader, I have to say. I was pleasantly surprised by this one from The Byrds and it has intrigued to broaden my knowledge of their back catalogue.
Favourite songs so far:
Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)
The Everly Brothers – All I Have to Do Is Dream (1958)
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
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)
The Supremes – Stop! In the Name of Love (1965)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody (1965)
The Who – Substitute (1966)