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…
Love – 7 and 7 Is (1966)
We are staying on in the US, dear reader, and after the pulsating singing of Tina Turner yesterday, we are dabbling in some very heavy rock today, a possible precursor to the punk rock that would come in the 1970s. In fact this group’s musical style was given a retrospective title of proto-punk, presumably a punk prototype. Our guests today are a group by the name of Love. They didn’t have an extensive list of hits to their name so their contribution to the history of music is therefore on the influence side, more as pioneers than superstars themselves. 1001 Songs has gone with their highest placed hit – 7 and 7 Is.
7 & 7 Is was written by Arthur Lee while the rest of the band were asleep. It was inspired by his birthday being on March 7 and a high school sweetheart, Anita “Pretty” Billings, also sharing the same birth date. The song also makes reference to teenage adolescence. The narrator talks of a youth spent waiting to be a man, of being stuck in their bedroom with their mind in an ice cream cone, a reference to a dunce’s cap that unruly children were once forced to wear in school. Peculiar. Other imagery has the narrator compare himself to a bone that can be thrown and saying his lack of eyes means he is bereft of tears. Teenage adolescence is clearly difficult for him, as if he feels little or anything while awaiting the long sought after maturity that added years will bring.
Love are a group I have never heard of or listened to prior to today. 7 and 7 Is has echoes of punk rock and you can imagine this feeling very raw and new when it first graced the US in 1966. The lyrics are not easy to unravel and it took some research to decipher some of the images contained within but it’s a decent little rock number. The ending is intriguing with a loud descent, supposedly akin to an atomic explosion, before a gentle denouement plays out the final seconds. It’s not perfect but it sounds like a group who were experimenting and pushing the boundaries of music and that would certainly help artists still to follow.
Favourite songs so far:
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)
The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby (1966)