On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge 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 every day (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… legendary!
Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen (1977)
Welcome to 1977, dear reader. A sad year this one with both Elvis Presley and Marc Bolan being lost to the world by year’s end. After getting a suntan and listening to dub music in Jamaica, we are heading back to the UK to immerse ourselves once more in the punk rock scene. A few songs ago, Sex Pistols were causing Anarchy in the UK. We join them in 1977, the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee and what better way to mark the occasion than to release a new single entitled God Save the Queen.
Aside from the title, there is nothing positive about the British monarchy or indeed Britain at this time when you listen to God Save the Queen. Sex Pistols do not hold back, lambasting what they perceive as a “fascist regime.” Johnny Rotten seethes through the microphone of how “there is no future” as everyone is told what to do and what to think. We have to stay loyal to the Queen though. She’s good for tourism, after all, even if the Pistols do not perceive her to be human. As with Anarchy in the UK, the song is a rousing call to arms of sort, to not be content with this reality, and to go forth and build a better future.
The timing of God Save the Queen with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee was a masterstroke in marketing but the song caused a lot of controversy upon release. The Royal family can be a contentious subject in the present but the truth is that many millions in the UK and across the globe love the Queen and this was the case in 1977. The song came under fire, as did the cover which showed the defaced image of the Queen. There was a time when one would have charged with treason for such profanity. Banned by the BBC, NME saw the song rise to no.1 in their chart, but the BBC insisted it reached no.2 in the UK charts. Many believe it was a chart topper, it sold very well indeed despite being banned, but the powers that be would not admit to this and history states Rod Stewart was no.1 instead. God Save the Queen is still controversial when one listens to it more than 40 years later. If you released a track like that today I imagine it would still cause a stir but back in 1977 it was a very brave release indeed.
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)