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…
Patti Smith – Gloria (1975)
A very brief stint in the UK, dear reader, with Queen but now we are back across the Atlantic to the US. Although our artist is from Chicago we’ll find her in New York, immersed in the punk rock scene. Yes, it’s a second appearance on our list from Patti Smith. We previously saw her in 1974 with Piss Factory but today we join her in 1975 with the release of her debut album, Horses. 1001 Songs have gone with the opening track, Gloria, which was originally written by Van Morrison.
Although Van Morrison wrote Gloria, Patti Smith took the song and reshaped it with one of her poems, entitled Oath. Smith opens the song with the memorable line, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” before describing a narrator who is wandering through life, seemingly at ease with existence, but that all changes when they look out of a window and see a beautiful young woman. The narrator’s desire for this woman intensifies until the two of them are eventually alone in a room together and passion ensues, a passion that the narrator has never experienced to such an extent with anyone else. They now beseech this girl to reveal her name and we learn she is called Gloria. The narrator later talks of being in a stadium and hearing the names of many girls but none compare to Gloria and to that wonderful moment they shared.
This is my first taste of Patti Smith’s debut album, Horses, and I find myself intrigued to sample more. Her poetry blends beautifully into songs and you have to applaud her for making Van Morrison’s Gloria her own. I’m often wary of cover versions of songs but when artists do something different with a track you have to admire their audacity. I still prefer Piss Factory and Dancing Barefoot from Patti Smith’s discography but Gloria was still an excellent addition to our song list.
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)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Patti Smith Group – Piss Factory (1974)
Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us (1974)
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)