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!
Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights (1977)
We’re leaving Nigeria and Africa behind and returning to the UK today, dear reader. Usually, we find ourselves in London but on this day we’re heading over to Kent. In the late 1970s a young singer and writer by the name of Kate Bush was looking to break into the music industry. With the help of David Gilmour, singer and guitarist from Pink Floyd, Bush produced a demo that landed her a deal with EMI and her debut album was released when she was just 20 years old. Anyone familiar with Kate Bush will not be remotely surprised with the song they have selected for our list – Wuthering Heights.
Kate Bush wrote the song after seeing an adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and then reading the novel herself. If you are not familiar with the story it might be best to stop reading. I’ll give you a minute just to be safe. Are you gone? Okay, let’s continue. Bush’s song is from the perspective of Cathy who grows up in the novel with Heathcliff and the two love one another. Bless. However, Cathy ends up marrying someone else and later dies, leaving Heathcliff in mourning and a violent rage. That’s not good. Bush sings of Cathy’s ghost coming back, not to haunt Heathcliff, but to be with him. She hasn’t thought through the logistics of such a union but the sentiment is still there so you can only applaud her determination. Bush quotes some lines from the novel but the overwhelming feeling here is a poignant and tragic romance that sadly never comes to be. Emily Bronte, could you not have written a happier ending?
Kate Bush enjoyed a massive breakthrough with Wuthering Heights which would go on to top the charts in the UK. It’s one of those instantly recognisable songs and some firs time listeners might be forgiven for wondering what the hell they’re listening to initially. Bush’s voice is very distinctive, you may not have heard anything like it before, but there’s no denying how beautiful it is and how well executed this song is as well. Bush continues her career to this day though there was a hiatus from 1993 to 2005. In 2014 she performed 22 live shows in London, her first public performances for 35 years. Unsurprisingly, demand for the tickets was huge, proving that Bush’s appeal remains as strong as ever.
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)