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…
Sex Pistols – Holidays in the Sun (1977)
We’re staying in the UK today, dear reader, but heading back south to London to hang out with Sex Pistols. This is their third appearance on our list and when we join the group they are in pretty bad shape. Glenn Matlock has left the group and has now been replaced on bass by Sid Vicious. More about him later. After all the controversy of their first three singles, Sex Pistols longed to get out of London and their fourth single – 1001 Song’s choice today – was the result of their escape i.e. Holidays in the Sun.
The title of the song suggests somewhere with palm trees, white beaches and clear blue waves lapping against the shore. That wasn’t really Sex Pistols’ style though. First, they tried Jersey but were thrown out. After that, what better place to go than Berlin where East and West Germany were still divided at this time by the Berlin Wall, not set to come crashing down for more than a decade. Holidays in the Sun sees Johnny Rotten singing about a desire for a holiday but not where it is sunny, oh no, he wants to see some history and Berlin is the perfect place. He is fascinated by the wall, talking of looking over the top and seeing the Communists staring right back, even expressing a desire to climb over and head to the other side into East Germany, under the umbrella of the Soviet Union. Berlin isn’t depicted as the sunniest of places here. It sounds bleak, it sounds dangerous, it sounds like just the place Sex Pistols want to be.
Holidays in the Sun has a fast-paced and fabulous guitar riff, blatantly nicked from The Jam’s In the City which led to an altercation at one stage between Paul Weller and the Pistols. The song is full of drive and energy, offering no indication that the group themselves were now on borrowed time. Their debut album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, followed a couple of weeks after Holidays in the Sun in October 1977. However, by January 1978 they had split up while on a tour of the US. Rotten reverted back to the name, John Lydon; Sid Vicious died in 1979 from a heroin overdose having allegedly murdered his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen; and the surviving members found themselves in court battles as the decade breathed its last. Reunions would take place in the years that followed but the era of Sex Pistols was now over.
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)