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…
James Brown & The Famous Flames – Cold Sweat (1967)
It’s back to the US, dear reader, and we’re taking our seats to watch the Godfather of Soul – James Brown with The Famous Flames. Brown has appeared on our list already and today we find him in 1967 in the midst of a shift in his music. Brown was a leading pioneer in the development of funk music and 1001 Songs has opted for a song that was considered key to this transition. Let’s listen in but if we’re not too careful we might find ourselves breaking out in a Cold Sweat.
Cold Sweat sees James Brown in energetic mode as a narrator who is singing about a woman who makes him feel pretty good. He informs her that there are many things he doesn’t really care about such as her past, what she wants or even how she ultimately treats him. What our narrator does care about is being to kiss this woman, to hold her and to be with her. The reason he longs for such a passionate embrace is because it makes him break out into the “cold sweat” of the title.
Cold Sweat is lyrically quite sparse and simple but it does nothing to diminish its overall impact. The backing music flows and even follows James Brown’s every instruction as he guides his band through the narrative. His vocals capture the thrill and desire of the narrator whose love for this woman is causing him to almost lose control of his own body. As with other songs by James Brown, this one is full of energy and you long to have seen him in that studio recording such songs as this. I doubt he could keep still for long.
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 Who – Substitute (1966)
The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)