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 Kinks – Days (1968)
We’re back in the UK today, dear reader, and enjoying a stay in London. We are in the company of The Kinks again and I believe this may be their fifth appearance on our list which is mighty impressive and one of the highest tallies thus far. We’ve enjoyed some lovely songs from the group already such as Waterloo Sunset and Sunny Afternoon but today we’re delighted, I am anyway, to be in the company of another classic from the band – Days.
Written by Ray Davies, Days is an ambiguous song which could be applied to varying situations. Davies wrote it in part as a farewell to his fading music career but also as a goodbye to his sister who was emigrating to Australia. In the song the narrator is thanking someone for the “days” of the title and is grateful for the unspecified amount that they have had. This person has had a profound impact on the life of the narrator but now they are gone and the pain is very difficult and very real. Despite the anguish, there is no resentment from the narrator. Their thanks for the time they did have with this person far outweighs the mixed emotions that individual has left in their wake. You could argue this as a romantic song but it could also be applied to many a circumstance where someone special is no longer in our lives.
Days was never intended as a single by The Kinks but came at a time when commercially the group were in decline and was their attempt to revitalise their career. It missed out on the Top 10 in the UK, sadly, but has endured in the decades since as one of Davies’ best songs. Kirsty MacColl would later do a memorable cover of Days in 1989, a testament to the song’s longevity. For me, controversial as this may be, I would rate Days as the best song that The Kinks ever recorded. I love the ambiguity to it, how personal and vulnerable it is. If you wanted to express to someone you’ve loved and lost what they meant to you then this is a perfect song. Beautifully poignant and proof that even as The Kinks were slipping down the charts, they were still capable of magic.
Favourite songs so far:
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 Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (1968)
The Kinks – Days (1968)