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…
Hawkwind – Silver Machine (1972)
Short stay in the US, dear reader, as we need to go back to the UK for back to back days in London. What a treat. First up, we have a rock group known for dabbling in space rock as well as having some pretty famous members in their ranks over the years including Ginger Baker and also Lemmy who later formed heavy metal group, Motorhead. Back in 1972, Hawkwind scored their biggest hit with the track, Silver Machine, and it’s good enough for 1001 Songs to give it the nod today.
Hawkwind apparently recorded this track when they were very high on LSD, with final corrections made in the studio after listening to the tapes. Silver Machine comes across as some kind of intergalactic journey and the the title seemingly refers to a spaceship of some sort. The reality is that the song actually makes reference to a bicycle. This isn’t your standard bicycle from what the song is suggesting, given that it can travel through time and move from one side of the sky to the next. It’s an ambiguous song and I’m still convinced we’re talking about a spaceship here.
The vocals for Silver Machine proved a challenge for the group with bass player, Lemmy, ending up taking them on even though he wasn’t the singer in the group. He does a great job with the vocal work here while the rest of the group contribute to a catchy, hard hitting rock number. It would climb to the Top 5 in the UK but that’s about as good as it ever got for Hawkwind. Lemmy would be fired from the group in 1975 and although they are still going to this day only Dave Brock, one of the founding members, still remains with the band.
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)