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!
Iggy Pop – The Passenger (1977)
We’re happy in the US for now, dear reader, and are venturing over to Michigan once more to check in with the Godfather of Punk – Iggy Pop. We have enjoyed Iggy’s company as part of The Stooges and on his last appearance he was telling us how much he was missing those Dum Dum Boys. Rejoining Iggy, actually in Berlin rather than Michigan, he is still working hard collaborating with David Bowie and the pair are doing their utmost to kick their respective drug addictions. It seems to be working given the music they are both creating. One day, a composer by the name of Ricky Gardiner came up with a piece of music on his guitar and when Iggy Pop heard it, he penned the lyrics for today’s song – The Passenger.
The Passenger sees the narrator talk about travelling around a city during the night time. We know for sure he is the passenger in a car but may also be travelling on a train at one stage as well. However he gets around, the narrator is always driven by someone else, at the mercy of them essentially. Taking in the nocturnal cityscape, the narrator frequently looks out of the window and marvels at the stars in the night sky. Pop himself has said the song was partly inspired by being on tour with David Bowie, being driven around in a limousine from place to place. Pop didn’t have a driving license so if you’re going to be the “passenger” you may as well be driven around in style, right? The song has also been interpreted as conveying life on the road for musicians, essentially the idea of rolling stones gathering no moss, never being settled in any one place for long.
As soon as I hear the opening guitar riff to this track I become lost in the song. It’s one of Iggy Pop’s best-known songs and it’s hard not to sing along to that chorus of “la la la la….” Pop has such a distinctive voice and here it is smooth and at ease, an artist who was really on it at this time. Pop’s collaboration with Bowie would lead to both The Idiot and Lust for Life albums, the latter of which can be found The Passenger. As with the superb Dum Dum Boys, Bowie once again appears on this track in support of Pop. What a class act.
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)
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975)
Iggy Pop – The Passenger (1977)