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…
Russell Morris – The Real Thing (1969)
We’re leaving London and the UK behind, dear reader, and catching a plane all the way down to Australia. I hope you can sleep on planes okay because this will be a long flight. Upon landing Down Under, we find ourselves in the company of a rock musician by the name of Russell Morris. His debut single – The Real Thing – was written by Johnny Young and originally intended as an acoustic number. Once Morris got into the studio though the outcome was very different.
The Real Thing is a long song, clocking in at around six minutes. It starts simply enough and even quite repetitively. Morris sings about the distinction between one reality and another. He tells someone else that they are not seeing the real him and that they should come and see the real thing of the title. Later he makes reference to not seeing this person as they really are either though he clearly wants to. Once Morris has finished the lyrics we are only around halfway through the song. The music continues and what started as relatively straightforward soft rock descends into pandemonium with bizarre effects and accelerated music, a full on psychedelic trip before the song gradually fades out.
You’ll not be surprised to learn I had not heard of Russell Morris or The Real Thing. It was a huge hit in Morris’ native Australia and did well upon being released in the US as well. As a song, I found it a mixed bag. The lyrics were intriguing but I was worried about monotony creeping in early on. However, the second half of the song ventures into pure psychedelia and enhances the overall impact. Compared to other psychedelic rock we’ve had so far, this one does pale slightly. I am curious though if U2 were thinking of this song when they released Even Better Than the Real Thing in 1992.
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)