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…
David Crosby – Laughing (1971)
It’s time we left the UK, dear reader, and made our way back to the US. Yesterday we checked in on The Beatles to see how their solo careers were going. Today, we’re catching up with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. We’ve had solo work from Stephen Stills and Neil Young already but it’s now the turn of David Crosby. Crosby had been a founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, but in 1971 he released his debut solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name. 1001 Songs has selected the song, Laughing, from that particular album.
In Laughing, Crosby offers us three verses with three contrasting choruses accompanying each one. The whole piece seems to be about a journey, one searching for some kind of meaning or spiritual enlightenment. In the opening verse Crosby talks of meeting someone who knows a person with all the answers, but we then hear our narrator has been mistaken. In the second verse they speak of finding light to illuminate their way through the darkness but again they are incorrect in their presumption. The final verse is similar to the first in that the narrator believes they have found someone who knows the truth but it’s just a child laughing. The hopeless search for answers goes on and there is no resolution.
Crosby’s work here is deeper and more spiritual than Stephen Stills’ Love the One You’re With which featured on the blog previously. It’s interesting to hear the contrast in music as the members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young dabbled in solo projects. Laughing carries with it much ambiguity and unanswered questions but the slow, sombre lyrics are delivered well and the music is a welcomingly gentle accompaniment as we reflect on this mysterious journey in search of the unknown.
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)
The Kinks – Days (1968)
King Crimson – The Court of the Crimson King (1969)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)