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…
Otis Redding – Hard to Handle (1968)
I’m seriously considering applying for US citizenship, dear reader, given how long we have been in America though I hear the current president is not everyone’s cup of tea. Anyway, for our song today we welcome back Otis Redding who is making his second appearance on our list. Previously we enjoyed his rendition of I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, and today we have something a little different. I was expecting (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay at some point on this list to be honest with you, but instead Redding wants us to know that he is too Hard to Handle.
Hard to Handle sounds like a song of seduction with Redding portraying a narrator who is essentially selling himself to a woman. During the song he is aware that this woman is with another man but tells her he is far superior, he is a man of action rather than one of words, and if this lady deigns to go home with him she will find this out for herself. The chorus leaves little to the imagination with Redding talking about lighting this woman’s candle and then calling on the song title to insist he truly is “hard to handle.” In summary, the narrator is telling us he is a player and needs to be presented with a warning sign above his head. Perhaps something along the lines of “Hazard!” would be apt.
My familiarity with the work of Otis Redding prior to this song challenge was pathetically limited, I’ll be the first to admit. I don’t know what cave I have been living in but it’s certainly a deep one. I knew (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, of course, but nothing else. Having now sample two other songs from Redding I am intrigued about hearing more. Hard to Handle is completely different to I’ve Been Loving You Too Long. Redding is fierce and wild here, all about the seduction and though he promises that this woman in question will not be disappointed with him, I would urge caution.
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)