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!
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus (1977)
We’ve had a nice stay in the UK, dear reader, but now we must fly and head on back to Jamaica. During our many visits here, I have often made reference to Bob Marley but he has yet to appear on our list. Well, that all changes today. Yes, formed in 1963, Bob Marley and the Wailers released numerous albums in the 1960s before lineup changes in the early 1970s. When we join Marley in 1977, he has fled Jamaica and come to London having survived an assassination attempt back home. The resulting album would be Exodus and from that record 1001 Songs have selected the title track.
Exodus ties into the Biblical tale of Moses leading the Israelites across the parted waters of the Red Sea and to safety from their Egyptian pursuers. In the song, Marley calls out to the people and asks them if they are satisfied with the lives they lead or do they want something better than what they currently have. He uses the refrain of “exodus” and talks of the “movement of Jah people”. Jah is the name of God in Rastafarianism which Marley converted to years before. Here he is beseeching others to join the movement for it will lead them to freedom and away from the oppression that currently keeps them prisoners.
Exodus is a sprawling 7+ minutes reggae piece from, arguably, Jamaica’s most famous son. Surely, even Usain Bolt would agree. I knew a handful of Marley songs prior to this challenge but can’t recall hearing this one. Its message is positive and hopeful, the yearning and promising of something better for those not resigned to unhappy lives they currently lead. The Exodus album would help Marley to achieve stardom on the international scene. The key marker for reggae music was laid and the world was now at Bob’s feet.
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)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975)
Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way (1977)
David Bowie – “Heroes” (1977)