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!
Steely Dan – Peg (1977)
We’re continuing in the US today, dear reader, and making our way from Massachusetts to New York. We’re dropping in on Steely Dan who last appeared on our list back in 1972 with Reelin’ in the Years. Picking up their story five years later, Steely Dan have released their sixth album, Aja, and 1001 Songs have selected the first song from that record that was released as a single – Peg.
Peg makes reference to an aspiring actress who is hoping to make it big. The song is from the perspective of what sounds like a director or possibly a photographer. He talks of seeing her picture and how great it is, there is mention of her name being on display in big lights, Broadway maybe, and how her debut is about coming. All of these things could well be happening for the actress but she is beseeched just once more to smile for the camera and both the director/photographer will love her even more, as will the people. This does now sound like a photo shoot but I find myself wondering what sort of shoot this may be and whether this individual has the actress’ best interests at heart.
Aja found Steely Dan branching out and experimenting with their music, dipping into jazz for one thing and that comes through here with the range of instrumentation. Peg also has a guitar solo trialled by numerous session musicians before Jay Graydon was the one that came into the studio and nailed it. Peg is another song that sounds pretty upbeat but one suspects there is something disconcerting going on beneath the surface.
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)