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…
Fleetwood Mac – Oh Well Parts 1 & 2 (1969)
In the ghettos of Chicago with Elvis yesterday, dear reader, and now back across the Atlantic to the UK and to London. Formed in 1967, Fleetwood Mac would become one of the biggest selling bands in history, especially with their 1977 album, Rumours. However, we find the group in the early days of 1969 before the likes of Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham were members. Spearheaded at this time by Peter Green, 1001 Songs has opted for the group’s song, Oh Well Parts 1 & 2.
Oh Well is rather complicated and required me to sample multiple tracks. The single comprised of Part 1 which lasts around two minutes before the denouement is taken up by the first minute of Part 2 which acts as an instrumental fade out. Hope you are with me so far. The remainder of Part 2 was the B side to the single. You can find Part 2 in its entirety which is more than five minutes long so I listened to both variants to get a feel for the selection here. Part 1 is a heavy blues number with a raucous guitar riff. Green’s vocals when they come in are largely unaccompanied by music. The lyrics see the narrator lamenting their existence but shrugging off their misfortune with an “Oh well.” They make reference to another person and tell them not to expect any response when asked what they might think of them. As Part 1 concludes we shift into the instrumental of Part 2 which is slower and gentler in mood and tempo, more akin to a classical piece than the pulsing blues number we just enjoyed.
I am familiar with Fleetwood Mac but sporadically and tend to know more of their later material such as Go Your Own Way and Everywhere. That said, when I heard the music to Part 1 of Oh Well, my ears resonated with familiarity I tell you, dear reader. I do not know where but I have come across this song somewhere before. I love the contrast to the two sections. Part 2 has a rich and varied instrumental but Part 1 is where the real interest lies with the blues rock here comparable to the heavy metal that would emerge in the 1970s.
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)