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…
Brian Eno – By This River (1977)
We remain in the UK today, dear reader, and we’re catching up with a former member of Roxy Music. The band previously appeared on our list back in 1972 with Virginia Plain. Brian Eno was a member of Roxy Music at this time but by 1973 he had moved on to work on solo projects instead. When we pick up Eno’s story in 1977 it is with the release of his fifth album, Before and After Science. A critically acclaimed record upon release, 1001 Songs have gone with a track from Side Two by the name of By This River.
By This River is made up of three verses and no chorus is in sight. It opens with a gorgeous piano melody before Eno’s voice comes along and sings of a couple by the river. They have been there for some time though they are not able to remember why it was they came to such a place. In the final verse Eno tells of their conversation but it seems distant, as if some gulf has started to emerge between them. This couple sounds like they are in a time capsule, immersed in this one moment in their lives, alone and by this scenic spot along the riverside. Rather pleasant, don’t you think?
By This River lures you in from the off with an intoxicating piece of piano. There is also what sounds like synthesisers coming in later, enhancing the overall mood of the piece. Eno’s restrained vocals blend in with the ambience of the music. We are party to this couple along the riverside for only a fleeting moment but it’s a privilege to be there. Eno continues to record solo albums to this day and he has collaborated with many acts including the likes of U2 and Coldplay.
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)