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…
Candi Staton – Young Hearts Run Free (1976)
We’re continuing in the US, dear reader, leaving behind New York and making our way across the states and down to Alabama. We’re checking back in with Candi Staton who appeared back in 1969 with I’m Just a Prisoner (of Your Good Lovin’). Now in the 1970s Staton’s music is taking a change of direction. We pick up Staton’s story in 1976 when she has a conversation with producer, David Crawford, about one of her past relationships. From that discussion, Crawford penned Young Hearts Run Free.
An upbeat sounding disco song, one to make hundreds rush to the dance floor, Young Hearts Run Free is not a remotely happy song at all. The relationship Staton discussed with Crawford was an abusive one and that theme comes into the song here. The narrator laments the man she is with but not the children they have had. While she is home, the dutiful housewife and mother, he is out seeing other women and clearly has no love or respect for her. Staton’s narrator longs for something better, to be free, to be independent but she knows that will never happen. She sounds resigned to her fate but she won’t go quietly. Instead, the narrator looks to empower her children and indeed all young women to be strong and not to end up as the narrator has. If the man they are with is no good, then it’s time to be rid of him, look after no.1 and don’t feel any shame in doing so.
I don’t recall when I first heard Young Hearts Run Free but I do distinctly remember it being used memorably in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, where Romeo and friends gatecrash the house party at the Capulet mansion and Mercutio dons some very fancy attire. Hearing the song then and since, I also thought this was an upbeat and happy number but it is overwhelmed with sadness and tragedy. The good news is that Staton’s own career was one that thrived with this song being one of her biggest hits. Now 80 years old, she released her 30th album in 2018. Sounds like older hearts also run free.
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)