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…
Freda Payne – Band of Gold (1970)
We’re continuing in the US today, dear reader, and leaving New York behind so we can head over to Detroit. Freda Payne began her career in the early 1960s but her major breakthrough came in 1970 when Motown songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote a song – Band of Gold – along with Ron Dunbar. The song was offered to Payne but she was initially reluctant believing that she was too old to be singing a song from what she believed to be the perspective of a younger woman. Payne wasn’t yet 30! She was eventually convinced to record Band of Gold and it landed her a place on our 1001 Songs list.
Band of Gold is written from the viewpoint of a woman who has just married but already things are going wrong. The wedding is over and the honeymoon has begun. The problem is that the bride and groom are sleeping not just in separate beds but separate rooms as well. The bride lays alone in her bed, waiting for her husband to come to her, to love her and to be with her but he does not. Instead, the bride is left with the “band of gold” of the title, a ring symbolic of a union that she believed to be real but instead has turned into a nightmare.
Freda Payne specialised more in jazz and R&B but this pop classic is the song that she is best remembered for. Band of Gold tells a tragic story of unrequited love and you can’t help but feel for the bride here. I’m still puzzled why Payne had reservations about singing this but I’m sure she doesn’t regret it now. The song charted highly in the US and topped the UK charts. Payne’s career has continued to this day but she would not hit the same heights as she did with the song she almost didn’t record.
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)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)