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…
The Damned – New Rose (1976)
We’re saying goodbye to Jamaica and returning to my home in the UK today, dear reader. We find ourselves landing in the capital of London for our latest guest on this most honourable list of ours. While The Sex Pistols are one of the first names that spring to mind when it comes to punk rock, it was actually The Damned who hold the accolade of being the first British punk band to release a single, narrowly ahead of the Pistols. Back in 1976 they released the track, New Rose, which 1001 Songs have selected for our listening pleasure.
New Rose begins with a cheeky nod to The Shangri-Las and The Leader of the Pack with the opening line being, “Is she really going out with him?” All similarities end there though with The Damned launching into high octane punk rock with New Rose being a speedy number lasting less than 3 minutes. Subject wise the song appears to be about love with the “new rose” of the title being reference to a girl that the narrator has started a relationship with. They seem pretty pleased about this as well, incredulous at their good fortune and determined not to make a mess of things. We’ll see how that goes.
New Rose did not make a dent on the UK Top 40 but it is one of the group’s treasured tracks as is their cover of The Beatles’ Help, which is even faster under The Damned, and was the B-side on the single with New Rose. I am familiar with the song from Guns ‘N Roses’ 1993 compilation of cover songs, The Spaghetti Incident, which featured New Rose early on the track listing. It’s still punk rock but lacks the rebelliousness of The Clash or The Sex Pistols, though is likely deliberate. The Damned would outlast the punk scene, shifting towards being purveyors of gothic rock in the 1980s both musically and in their on stage attire, influencing many acts that followed and maintaining a loyal fan base.
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)