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…
Cream – I Feel Free (1966)
It’s been an enjoyable couple of days in California but now we’re back on a plane across the Atlantic and to the UK. We’re in London today and in the company of a group considered to be the first supergroup. Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton had all been in other groups but after respective feelings of maladjustment, Baker approached Clapton to join a new group and Clapton wanted Bruce involved too. The trio became Cream and their respective talents combined to create something very special. 1001 Songs has gone with one of their earliest hits – I Feel Free.
I Feel Free appears to be about a couple dancing but has a psychedelic feel to it. The narrator talks about feeling like the sea dancing with this person but there is a transcendent feel that follows. We hear of driving without seeing and moving freely down a pavement even though it is full of people. The narrator then describes the dance floor as being like the sea, while the ceiling is the sky. The repetition of the chorus emphasises the overwhelming sense of liberty that the narrator has with this person. This sounds like the peak of happiness.
I feel like 1001 Songs is really rolling out the big guns as we advance through the 1960s. Eric Clapton is now in the mix and I am familiar with a lot of his work but not well versed with Cream. Baker, Bruce and Clapton all sang in the group and were masters with their respective instruments. I Feel Free is a brief but immersive experience, showcasing a talented trio that had the potential to make a string of great albums. Sadly, Cream would disband in 1968, their respective personalities and ideas on their music causing friction and irreparable damage.
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)