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…
Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) (1971)
It’s goodbye to Tennessee, dear reader, and a big hello to Washington D.C. as we welcome Marvin Gaye back to the blog and we bring an end to 1971 as well. We last saw Gaye with I Heard It Through the Grapevine but we join him now in 1971 with the release of his acclaimed album, What’s Going On. The record had three tracks that were released as singles with the third and final one being Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler), which just happens to be 1001 Songs selected piece on this day.
Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) was written by Marvin Gaye and James Nyx Jr. It juxtaposes poverty-stricken life in the American ghettos with the rest of the country and identifies what money is being spent on. We hear about the space race, money poured into Vietnam and how those in the ghettos work for money only to see it snatched away by those above. They can’t pay their taxes, bills are piling up and young men are being drafted and shipped off to be killed in Vietnam. Marvin Gaye sings about all of this and in the chorus tells us that he wants to “holler”, to cry out about the injustice of it all.
This is one of Marvin Gaye’s songs I was not familiar with and a surprise addition from the What’s Going On album given the acclaim the title track received upon release. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) is comparable to other pieces we have had in the 1970s, focusing on the imbalances in society between the rich and poor, the classes, sexes, sexualities and races. It paints a very bleak image of the US at this time and the picture hasn’t improved in the present day, not just in the US but the rest of the world. A thought-provoking track is a great way to conclude our visit to 1971. Tomorrow we will enter 1972 and see what that year has in store for us.
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)