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 Count Five – Psychotic Reaction (1966)

We’re back again, dear reader, and it’s a sense of deja vu today. We’re still in the US, we’re still in California, we’re still enjoying garage rock, but the only difference is we are not in the company of The Seeds. Instead, we have another band by the name of The Count Five. They formed at a very young age, still in high school, I believe, and their career was sadly brief but we have another group whose influence would impact on later groups. 1001 Songs has gone with The Count Five’s most famous song – Psychotic Reaction.

Psychotic Reaction began as a suggested title when a class on psychosis was being taught and a classmate of guitarist, John Byrne, suggested “Psychotic Reaction” would be a great title. The song itself has the narrator singing about a girl who he has seemingly been with but now can’t be. What has transpired between them is unclear but things are not good now. He is desperate to be with this girl but the love is unrequited. Our narrator feels really sad and lonely and these feelings bubble into the psychotic reaction of the title. It doesn’t sound like there will be a happy conclusion here.

Psychotic Reaction is a brief but catchy rock number. The Count Five were lauded for their use of feedback and distortion which would become crucial to later rock acts. The song reached the Top 10 in the US but once it sank from the charts, the rest of the group began to fade. With not one member even 20 years old, they disbanded and went off in pursuit of college degrees instead. It was a brief foray into stardom for The Count Five but their legacy remains and to land a place on this list alongside so many other great acts deserves huge credit.

 

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)

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