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 Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows (1966)
We stay on in the UK, dear reader, and bring the curtain down on 1966. What a year it has been with some truly fantastic music. Six of my current Top 10 are from this year and we conclude 1966 with another appearance from The Beatles. The Liverpudlians and, arguably, the greatest band in history had turned their backs on touring in 1966 and with the album, Revolver, were able to create music in the studio exactly as they wanted to and not with the pressure of performing it live. We previously had Eleanor Rigby from this album and today we have Tomorrow Never Knows.
Tomorrow Never Knows was primarily written by John Lennon. It was said to be inspired by Lennon reading The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead and having taken LSD to fully immerse himself in the book’s contents. The song appears to be a form of meditation, calling on the listener to turn off all thoughts, zone out essentially, then go on the journey that awaits. Lennon describes how being in a state of spiritual calm can open doors and windows, helping to find new meaning in the universe around us. This is full on psychedelia and is immersed in the changing face of music in the late 1960s.
Tomorrow Never Knows is the closing track on the Revolver album and when you come to the end of that entire record you really appreciate how hard The Beatles are pushing themselves towards a new direction. Tomorrow Never Knows is a universe away from Love Me Do and I Want to Hold Your Hand and the Fab Four would continue to push the musical boundaries right up until their end by 1970. It’s a mindblowing song, using a sitar, throwing in bird noises, a string of experimental studio effects and you feel compelled to sit back and be at one in the moment. It’s just one example of why I prefer the late 1960s work of The Beatles.
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)