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 Jimi Hendrix Experience – Fire (1967)
We’re combining the US and the UK again today, dear reader, so maybe meeting in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a rubber dinghy or something. An ocean liner if you want something a bit safer. We’re dealing in hypotheticals so I have the budget for whatever you need. Anyway, we have a second appearance from The Jimi Hendrix Experience today. Previously we were lost with them in a purple haze, a real drug trip too, but today the group have something different in mind. Written by Jimi Hendrix, Fire was inspired by a trip he made to bandmate, Noel Redding’s mother’s house in England one winter evening. Feeling very cold, Hendrix asked to stand by the fire but had to persuade the family dog to move first, and thus the next song on our list was born.
I’d like to tell you that Fire is about Hendrix’s visit to that English cottage in the winter of 1966 but I don’t want to lie to you. Instead, Hendrix takes the theme of fire to be something sexual, very sexual as well. I’m feeling hot just thinking about it! The narrator in the song tells us of their desire for a woman with the chorus being that he wants to “stand next to your fire”. It seems this guy is interested only in sating his burning passion for this woman, not anything long-term or overly romantic. Whatever floats your boat, Jimi. Hendrix lifted lyrics from his own words to that family dog he had to move to get to the fireplace in England i.e. “Move over Rover and let Jimi take over.” I’ll let you unravel the sexual innuendo there as it applies to this song.
I had not heard Fire before so am wondering what I have been doing musically with my life to have now missed two classic songs by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. While Fire isn’t as good as Purple Haze, it is still a great song all the same. The rest of the group support their frontman as his desire within the song threatens to boil over and adding to the intensity is another fantastic guitar solo from Hendrix. Often touted as the greatest guitarist of them all, the jury remains out for me as I continue to immerse myself in new music and open my ears to other guitar masters, but Jimi is easily Top 10.
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 Doors – The End (1967)
The Velvet Underground – Venus in Furs (1967)