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!
Blondie – Heart of Glass (1978)
Continuing in the US today, dear reader, but we’re swinging our way across state heading eastwards and all the way to New York. We’ve been here a few times and we’re immersing ourselves in the new wave and punk rock scenes of the late 1970s. Formed in 1974 by bandmates and lovers, Chris Stein and Debbie Harry, Blondie would work their way from nothing to be global superstars around the late 1970s and early 1980s. We join them in 1978 with an old track unearthed in the studio and given a risky makeover – Heart of Glass.
Written by Stein and Harry, Heart of Glass is a song of heartbreak, not a nod to a failed relationship that either songwriter had been through, just a generalisation about the pain and sadness one experiences when love turns cold. The narrator tells us of the good feelings they had in this relationship but now things have turned sour they are deeply hurt and angry about the whole affair. At times though they have moments where they feel okay and just want to get on with life but love is confusing and not always easy to shake the memory of someone who devoted so much of your time and self to.
Heart of Glass was something of a gamble for Blondie. The group had tried various approaches with it but could not find the right fit until someone – who depends on which story you go with – suggested a disco flavouring. It worked a treat, though many of Blondie’s peers were not enamoured with them using disco in their music. Blondie had the last laugh with the track topping the charts in the UK and the US and propelling them to stardom. The only way was up from here.
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)
Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way (1977)
David Bowie – “Heroes” (1977)
Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)