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 Monkees – I’m a Believer (1966)

From Australia, we’re taking a very long flight back to the US and landing in California. Today’s guests are an unusual bunch. They began as actors on a TV show entitled The Monkees about a band trying to make it big in the music industry. Naturally, albums and even tours branched off from the success of the show. The group – also called The Monkees – enjoyed a brief but memorable time in the spotlight but their early work was heavily supervised with the band having little musical input or even playing instruments though they did sing. From their early career we have one of their best-known songs – I’m a Believer – which was originally written by Neil Diamond.

In I’m a Believer, Mickey Dolenz from The Monkees takes the vocals and his narrator begins by telling us of his lack of faith in love. He feels that love is something to be found in a fairytale, something fanciful that is not grounded in reality and is certainly not something that is likely to come his way. That has all now changed of course. Our narrator has met a girl and he has fallen in love. Even better, these new feelings now means that he does indeed believe in love; his faith has been restored. The narrator has been in a pretty bad place but love has brightened up his days and indeed his life and he doesn’t want it to end.

This is one of the classic love songs from the 1960s and one of the best from The Monkees. It’s one of those feel-good tunes that makes you smile whenever you hear it. Just as good, if not better, are Daydream Believer and Shades of Gray but it is a welcome sight to have this song on this prestigious list. The Monkees’ TV show, sadly, did not last long and although they became more heavily involved in making their own music, the group soon disbanded but would enjoy many reunions in the years that followed.

 

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 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)

The Monkees – I’m a Believer (1966)

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