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!
Dr. Feelgood – Milk and Alcohol (1978)
We’re heading back to the UK today, dear reader, and find ourselves on Canvey Island, situated in the Thames estuary in Essex. Formed in 1971, Dr. Feelgood specialised in rock and R&B and rose to prominence in the 1970s. When we join the group in 1978 they have released their second album, Private Practice. 1001 Songs have selected a track from that record that would be Dr. Feelgood’s biggest UK hit – Milk and Alcohol.
Milk and Alcohol is based on a true story and concerns the band going to watch a live performance of blues legend John Lee Hooker. Hooker’s performance that night was considered poor by his high standards and Dr. Feelgood comforted themselves with a heavy intoxication of Kahlua and milk drinks. Sounds exotic. The song recounts their disappointment with an unnamed performer and how they had to leave the venue and hop into their car. Heading back to the hotel, they run a red light that no one notices and are pulled over by the police. This also happened in real life and the group’s manager had to take the rap for drugs that were found in the car. In the song, the refrain is “they got him on milk and alcohol” instead of the narcotics.
Milk and Alcohol is a short and sweet number, a bit like listening to something by Buzzcocks or Ramones. It carefully reconstructs the eventful night the group had and the unwanted brush with the law after their traffic violation. The band continues to record and perform to this day but none of the original members are now in the line-up. Lead singer, Lee Brilleaux, sadly died in 1994 from lymphoma at the age of 41.
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)