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…
Genesis – Carpet Crawlers (1974)
We’re returning to the UK today, dear reader, and checking back in with Genesis. They first appeared back in 1973 with I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe). When we join Genesis in 1974 they have released a concept album, a double LP named The Lamb Lie Down on Broadway. The album is the story of a Puerto Rican youth named Rael whose story is set in New York City and explores his life and experiences there. Heavily driven by Peter Gabriel, 1001 Songs has lifted the track Carpet Crawlers from the album.
In Carpet Crawlers we have a song that is rich in imagery but one that seems to juxtapose the helplessness of childhood with the hard grind that is life. Carpet crawling gives one a vision of babies not yet able to walk and moving around their worlds on all fours. The song references individuals crawling along a carpet, their path seeming to be higher and higher in an unnamed tower to a door that offers them a form of liberation so desperately sought. We hear the refrain that is the gospel of the carpet crawlers, one that says they must get in to get out. Upon reaching the door, the carpet crawlers find a candlelit feast and beyond that a spiral stairway leading to an unspecified place. I can see the connotations of early childhood but also the idea of life’s journey in general; for many of us it does feel like we are merely crawling along and aiming ahead for some distant goal or door even. The imagery here is vivid and hard to unravel though.
Peter Gabriel was instrumental in the creation of this latest album from Genesis though Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks were largely responsible for putting music to Gabriel’s lyrics. Carpet Crawlers is an intriguing piece with some stunning, convoluted, imagery there waiting to be deciphered. Not an easy task for one such as I. I was not familiar with the track prior to this challenge but, again, this is very different to the Genesis I remember when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. Peter Gabriel would leave Genesis in 1975 but they would continue with Phil Collins ascending to the position of lead vocalist. Greater success was still to come but this has been a fascinating look into the group’s early history.
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 – Living for the City (1973)