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…
Manu Bibango – Soul Makossa (1972)
We’re leaving the US behind today, dear reader, and taking our plane across the Atlantic to Africa. Once we reach the continent we’re landing in Cameroon which I am sure is a first for us on this list but a welcome digression all the same. In Cameroon we find singer, Manu Bibango, who had a song become an unexpected hit in the US and is considered an early precursor to disco music. The song is Soul Makossa and it makes our illustrious 1001 Songs list.
Soul Makossa is sung in Douala, a regional dialect in Cameroon though English and French are the official languages in the country. Translations for the song were hard to come by during my online hunting but “makossa” refers to dancing and the song seems to concern this in some depth. We are told to clap our hands and to step to the music, to do the makossa, to be united as one with everyone else and presumably enjoy ourselves. I’m not one for dancing as you know but the makossa sounds interesting.
It’s always good to visit a new country and Cameroon is a nice change from our usual back and forth between the US and the UK. Seriously, the two of you need to learn to share a bit more. Soul Makossa is a catchy tune, one you may find yourselves singing along to in certain sections. It would find a way on to the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973 and part of the song was sampled first by Michael Jackson and then by Rihanna. A lawsuit against Jackson was successful but not against Rihanna. That two popular artists such as these drew upon Soul Makossa is testament to its influence and one reason why it has been included on this 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)