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 Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil (1968)
From Brazil yesterday, dear reader, and back to the UK today. Blimey, that is a long flight we have just made but no time to rest for we are back in the company of The Rolling Stones. I believe this might be their third appearance on our list after (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Paint It Black. Today’s song was written primarily by Mick Jagger and, along with Street Fighting Man, was considered pretty controversial at the time. I ask you now to show some Sympathy for the Devil.
Sympathy for the Devil is written from the perspective of Satan with Mick Jagger taking on the role. Throughout the song, Satan recites passages from history, atrocities that he has been instrumental in bringing about. The death of Jesus Christ is mentioned, the Russian Revolution with the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and we even hear John F. Kennedy’s assassination touched upon as well. Satan takes us through all of these horrors from history and during the chorus tells us that he is pleased to meet us. Throughout Satan suggests that we are none the wiser about his game and by the end we must show him sympathy. Perhaps the irony here is Satan suggesting mankind don’t really need his help to be capable of atrocities.
It’s great to have The Rolling Stones back on this list. I was previously familiar with Sympathy for the Devil from their repertoire. It’s one of the Stones’ best known songs and often held in high regard. I have to say I hadn’t delved deep into the lyrics prior to this challenge and, as happened with Paint It Black, I have a new-found appreciation for the song. Classic stuff.
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)