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…
Paul Revere & The Raiders – (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone (1966)
We’re continuing in the US today, dear reader, and our guests today are a group that originated in Idaho. Paul Revere & The Raiders were not your typical king of 1960s group. Dressed in Revolutionary costumes, they were not the sort of guys you might have found on posters on bedroom walls but they were behind some memorable songs. The anti-drug song, Kicks, is one of their best known hits but 1001 Songs has instead gone for (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone.
(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone sees the narrator singing of a woman who is aiming high and wanting better things. He isn’t admirable of her. In fact, he is critical. It sounds like she has used him in the past as the “stepping stone” of the song’s title. The narrator is suggesting that it is only because of him that she has advanced in society, much like the toxic exchange in Human League’s Don’t You Want Me. Now, this woman is using the same tricks on others to continue her rise to the top but the narrator reveals that not only does it sound like she has moved on from him but she doesn’t even remember his name. Harsh.
Paul Revere & The Raiders are recognised as a rock band but some would say there are early elements of punk rock in their repertoire. You get a feel of that in (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone with some of vocalist, Mark Lindsay’s, scathing rebuttals of the woman that has hurt the narrator. Paul Revere would continue to lead the group until 2014 when cancer forced his retirement. He sadly passed away within a few months with his son, Jamie, continuing the group in his father’s stead.
Favourite songs so far:
Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin’ (1965)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody (1965)
The Who – Substitute (1966)
The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon (1966)
The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)