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…
ABBA – Dancing Queen (1976)
It was a brief foray in the UK, dear reader, and we now head on a plane going east into Scandinavia. Some fine countries to choose from here but we have gone with Sweden. Formed in 1972, ABBA were comprised of two couples with Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson being the songwriters and musicians, while their respective partners Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog were the singers. ABBA won Eurovision in 1974 with Waterloo but, unusually, they enjoyed a successful career beyond that competition. We join ABBA in 1976 with the release of their fourth album, Arrival, and 1001 Songs has decided to hit the town and see the Dancing Queen.
Dancing Queen is all about the delights and fun of a night out on a Friday when the working week is done. The narrator describes being with a seventeen year old girl, the dancing queen of the title. She hits the town, listens out for the right music and then takes to the dance floor. She draws stares and the attention of many guys and one lucky man will get the chance to dance with her, but all too soon she’ll move on and find somewhere else to dance the night away. The song is a celebration of youth, dancing and losing yourself to music, to be completely immersed in the experience.
ABBA’s peak period was in the 1970s and Dancing Queen represents their zenith. It was a huge hit worldwide and, surprisingly, the only one of their songs to top the charts in the US. It remains a timeless track to this day, musically brilliant, but what makes it triumph is the vocal work of Lyngstad and Faltskog. Both were truly amazing singers, whether performing together or solo, and their voices enhance Dancing Queen. It’s considered, arguably, ABBA’s best song and I would lean towards that verdict though the likes of Knowing Me Knowing You and Waterloo deserve mention. Sadly, the group’s huge success saw both couples separate and though they continued to work together, ABBA disbanded in 1982.
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)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us (1974)
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975)