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 Jackson 5 – I Want You Back (1969)
We’re staying in the US, dear reader, and heading on over to Indiana. There, a trio of brothers – Jackie, Tito and Jermaine – formed a band in 1965. Their younger brothers soon joined – Marlon and Michael. The Jackson 5 built themselves up steadily until their major breakthrough came in 1969. 1001 Songs has selected their first number 1 hit in the US – I Want You Back – which had an 11 year old Michael Jackson on the lead vocals.
I Want You Back is a love song but one of a tragic kind. Michael is the narrator of the piece and he tells us that he has been with a girl but when they were together he was pretty dismissive of her. They have now separated and he has started to see her in the arms of another man. This girl the narrator previously cared little for is now all he can think about. He was too hasty in ending the relationship. He wants a second chance to be with her, he can’t sleep thinking about her, but it sounds like she has moved on from him.
Rising to the top of the US charts in 1970, I Want You Back was the first of four consecutive chart toppers for The Jackson 5. The story of Michael Jackson all began here and it’s staggering to hear him – eleven years old – and recall what a great singer he was, even as a child. I Want You Back is a familiar classic with Michael well supported by his brothers on backing vocals but he remains the star of the show on this track. Michael Jackson would, of course, go on to have a glorious solo career before dying from a drug overdose in 2009 at the age of 50. His music has been overshadowed by controversies in his personal life, in particular, accusations of child abuse which remain a divisive subject among fans and contemporaries to this day.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
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)
King Crimson – The Court of the Crimson King (1969)
Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love (1969)