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 Seeds – Pushin’ Too Hard (1966)
We’re travelling around the US again, dear reader, and this time we’re over in sunny California to take in some more garage rock. The Seeds are our guests today and, like Love who appeared last week, they are remembered more as one of the pioneers than for a vast range of hits. In this case The Seeds are considered an early variant of punk but also dabbled in psychedelic rock which was coming to the fore in the late 1960s. 1001 Songs has dipped into The Seeds collection and come up with Pushin’ Too Hard.
Pushin’ Too Hard was written by singer, Sky Saxon, while sitting in a car and waiting for his girlfriend to finish shopping in the local supermarket. In the song, the narrator is unhappy with his girlfriend. The title is his lament that she is being too forceful with him and it is putting the relationship in jeopardy. He talks of being free and doing what he wants, to not feel constrained as she makes him feel. The narrator also makes reference to potential infidelity from his girl and how it needs to stop, otherwise he’ll be on his way. He also informs us that he’ll try his luck with other women, either a genuine or hollow threat, it’s hard to say. The song is also seen as Saxon railing against society and being unhappy with the way it treats individuals; he clearly longs for something better.
Pushin’ Too Hard is a good example of a group that is trying something a little different but their music is not fully catching on with audiences at the time. The song was praised and criticised at the time of its release and in the years that followed but history has ultimately been kinder. While inferior to the punk and heavy rock that would follow, I do agree with 1001 Songs in identifying artists that laid the foundations for other groups to follow and The Seeds are one more example of such pioneers.
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)