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 Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)
We’re back in the US today, dear reader, but very briefly so bear with me on that one. Today’s artists are from California but actually moved to the UK where they found greater success with the British than they did back home. The Walker Brothers – Gary Leeds (Gary Walker), Scott Engel (Scott Walker) and John Maus (John Walker) – made up the trio and they began their career well but it very quickly petered out as music began to change and they simply could not keep up. From their collection, we have the best known song by The Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.
The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore is a really upbeat (hint of irony!) song with the narrator looking on at someone who is alone and has no love in their life. They describe what it means to not have love and the imagery associated is not only the sun not shining (as in the title) but the moon doesn’t rise anymore and tears are prevalent in the eyes of this individual. The song speaks of the emptiness of such an existence and, perhaps most tragic, having nothing to lose or win from this situation. The repetition of the title hammers home the poignancy of those who are alone and want to be loved but are sadly not.
I can vaguely remember hearing this song in the past but it’s a faint memory at best. Scott Walker’s sumptuous vocals guide us through a beautiful yet moving testament to loneliness. The backing vocals and music are akin to a powerful orchestra, increasing the intensity and meaning of the song. It is a stunning piece of work and, unsurprisingly, topped the charts in the UK though missed the Top 10 in the US. The group disbanded in 1968 and pursued solo careers. Their time in the spotlight was brief but it was good enough to earn a place on this list.
Favourite songs so far:
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
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)
The Four Tops – Reach Out (I’ll Be There) (1966)