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…
Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes (1972)
The sun sets on 1972, dear reader, and for our final entry in this year we are heading back across the Atlantic to the UK. Formed in 1966 as the Doc Thomas Group, Mott the Hoople took on their new name in 1969 and began releasing music. When we join them in 1972 the end is nigh, they are about to split up. Step forward: David Bowie, a fan of Mott the Hoople who was working on his latest album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie offered Mott the Hoople Suffragette City from his album which they declined. Seriously, guys, that’s a great song. Undeterred, Bowie wrote All the Young Dudes which Mott the Hoople did record and became one last throw of the dice for the group.
All the Young Dudes is considered to be a glam rock anthem, a message to young people i.e. “the young dudes” of the title. The lyrics list a range of individuals such as Wendy who steals clothes from M&S, while a guy named Lucy is dressed as a drag queen. All these individuals converge in the chorus where Mott the Hoople tell us they “carry the news”, a message of some sort for the masses. Whatever it is it sounds positive and hopeful. The song was embraced by young people and glam rock aficionados as the gospel of their movement but the reality behind the song is very different. Bowie confirmed in later interviews that All the Young Dudes was written in a similar vein to Five Years, which is the opening track on the Ziggy Stardust album, and one of Bowie’s best in my opinion. That song tells of impending doom for Earth and mankind five years hence. Bowie clarified that the “young dudes” are carrying a similar apocalyptic message, a stark contrast to how the song is popularly known today.
All the Young Dudes is one of those tracks that has a chorus you instantly want to sing along to. It’s a classic from the 1970s and a great testament to David Bowie as a songwriter and his generosity in sharing this track with a group he admired. Mott the Hoople do a great job with their rendition. Rather than split up, Mott the Hoople saw All the Young Dudes hit no.3 on the UK charts. The group underwent many lineup changes in the remainder of the decade, with varying success, before splitting up in 1980. Reunion shows have taken place in the last decade or so but Mott the Hoople’s golden moment was right here in 1972.
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)
Carly Simon – You’re So Vain (1972)