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…
Al Green – Tired of Being Alone (1971)
We leave India after staying for the night and head back to the US, dear reader. We’re in Arkansas today and in the company of a legendary soul singer by the name of Al Green. He began his career in the late 1960s and released his debut album to minimal success. Going into the 1970s Green was not perturbed and recorded his next album. From that record Green produced a breakthrough hit – Tired of Being Alone – and 1001 Songs just could not resist claiming it for their list.
Written by Al Green, Tired of Being Alone is about a man who is struggling due to a difficult relationship with a woman. It sounds like he loves her dearly and wants to be with her but she doesn’t feel the same, hence the feeling of loneliness. It’s hard to decipher if they are still in a relationship and a void is now between them or whether they are now separated. Maybe they were never together to begin with. What isn’t in doubt is that the narrator wants things to work out between them. He comes across as desperate for some kind of resolution here but it doesn’t look like it’s going to end well for him.
Al Green is considered to be one of the great soul singers and Tired of Being Alone would prove to be a big success, setting him on the path to a memorable career. His voice here is beautiful but tormented, the sheer emotional anguish comes through in his vocal, the fragility prevalent with each note he offers. It’s a terrific performance. Bigger hits would come for Green but this is the landmark one that began it all and a great inclusion it is on our list.
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)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Led Zeppelin – When the Levee Breaks (1971)