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…
Little Feat – Willin’ (1972)
Continuing in the US, dear reader, and we’re going from Illinois over to California. There are multiple stories behind the origins of today’s song but the most popular is that Lowell George wrote the song – Willin’ – while he was in a band with Frank Zappa. Zappa felt the song was too good and that George should form his own group to showcase it. George duly formed Little Feat in 1969 and Willin’ was good enough to make our list.
Willin’ is all about truck drivers and life on the road. The truck driver in question is not having an easy time of it. He isn’t opposed to drugs and alcohol to alleviate the lonely hours on the road, he takes detours to avoid having his truck weighed, and has no issue with smuggling people and items across the border with Mexico. It sounds like there is a woman in his life as well, one he refers to as Dallas Alice and he thinks of her often and sees images of her through his headlights. The chorus shows the many places our driver has been and it makes his job seem like an isolated one.
I hadn’t heard of Little Feat prior to this challenge but did enjoy listening to Willin’. It captures the truck driver’s existence well, although most drivers will not resort to some of the antics this particular one partakes of. If the song has any weaknesses it’s that it’s just too damn short. Lowell George would disband Little Feat in 1979 due to disagreements about creative direction. He pursued a solo career but died the same year from a heart attack, the result of a cocaine overdose. The surviving members reformed Little Feat in 1987 and remain together to this day.
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)
Stevie Wonder – Superstition (1972)