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!
Yes – Wonderous Stories (1977)
We remain in the UK today, dear reader, and find ourselves back in London for the latest leg of our musical odyssey. Yes previously featured on our list back in 1969 with the song, Sweetness. When we rejoin them eight years later they are releasing their eighth album, Going for the One. The album was recorded while the group were secluded away in Switzerland and it signalled a change in direction with their style to shorter and more accessible material for a wider audience. 1001 Songs have gone with Wonderous Stories to demonstrate this new approach.
There is a feeling of spirituality about Wonderous Stories. Singer, Jon Anderson, wrote it while being inspired by his surroundings in Switzerland. The song’s narrator describes a variety of experiences they are having such as heading up a mystical sounding river, ascending into the heavens and speaking with an unnamed individual who regales him with tales of distant lands. All of these moments in time are broken by the prospect of returning to someone, another unnamed individual but likely a lover, to be able to sit and listen to the “wonderous stories” that they tell. It sounds like a love song, the pain of being separated and then the ecstasy of being together, to listen to one another and to be absorbed in one another’s experiences, shared or otherwise.
Wonderous Stories would be Yes’ biggest hit in the UK, reaching the Top 10, while Going for the One would top the charts in the UK and reach the Top 10 in the US. This new direction clearly appealed to a mass audience and although Wonderous Stories does have ambiguous lyrics, it’s short and easy to take in, a radio friendly track you might say. Not all Yes fans would be happy with this new style from the group but the consensus was the group had made a positive change of direction.
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)