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…
George Jones – The Grand Tour (1974)
Here we are, we have reached song #400 on our list. Only 601 to go. Our journey in the US continues, dear reader, and we’re remaining in the realm of country music. Today’s artist was a giant in country music circles, chalking up hundreds of hits and is regarded today as one of the greats in this genre. George Jones’ most well-known song is the poignant, He Stopped Loving Her Today, but 1001 Songs has drifted off script and gone with another of Jones’ tracks, this one being from 1974 and entitled, The Grand Tour.
In The Grand Tour, George Jones takes us by the hand and shows us around a house. Any thoughts of us purchasing said property though soon dissipate. George isn’t here to sell this place to us. Instead, he is here to show us the many memories that he has here. Each room resonates with him, giving rise to nostalgic moments of the life he once shared with a woman and the seemingly eternal happiness that they once had. That is all over now though. The house is quiet and lonesome, the narrator is left to wander amidst the empty hallways and serenity of this place, trying to piece together where it all went wrong. The song concludes with a journey into the nursery but there is no child to be found here. The narrator’s wife and child have gone. The likeliest scenario is a divorce or she has simply left for reasons not shared here. Other listeners have speculated about both this woman and the child having died which is also a possibility.
I was previously familiar with He Stopped Loving Her Today which wasn’t what it seemed based on the title. If you’ve not heard the song, have a listen to find out more. The Grand Tour is a moving trip down memory lane for the narrator and a testament to how the homes we make for ourselves are more than just bricks and mortar. They are us, our memories, the moments we have had and so often what we have shared with others. The Grand Tour is well-crafted, unravelling piece by piece as the narrator unburdens himself to us. There is ambiguity at the end. Has this woman left or has she passed away along with the couple’s child? Whatever the answer, this is akin to having your heart strings played by a heavy metal guitarist.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
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)
Patti Smith Group – Piss Factory (1974)