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 Staple Singers – I’ll Take You There (1972)
We’re staying in the US, dear reader, and heading from Detroit to Chicago for our musical feast today. It’s a family affair with Roebuck Staples joining with his children – Cleotha, Pervis, Mavis and Yvonne to form a soul/gospel group. They dropped the “s” from their name and became known as The Staple Singers. Their most successful period was in the early 1970s and 1001 Songs has opted for one of their biggest hits – I’ll Take You There.
Written by Al Bell after his younger brother was shot and killed, I’ll Take You There is limited in lyrics because Bell didn’t feel he had anything further to say. In the song, The Staple Singers tell us that they know of a place without tears, without worries and where the races are not lied to. It sounds like they are referring to somewhere celestial, a form of heaven, where pain and suffering are alien concepts. The rest of the song includes some ad libbed moments where various members of the group are called upon to play instruments such as the piano and throughout the track we have the refrain of “I’ll take you there” to signify guiding us to this much better place.
This is an inspiring song from Al Bell and I can understand his reasoning for not committing many lyrics to the final composition. The Staple Singers offer some beautiful vocals to convey Bell’s message of this greater world that potentially awaits us beyond death. The 1970s would see The Staple Singers at the height of their fame and though they continued into the 1990s they never replicated the success of songs such as I’ll Take You There.
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)