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!
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)
We’re remaining in the UK today, dear reader, but leaving Canvey Island so we can return to London to take in the sights and sounds, well, more the sounds really. We’re checking back in with Queen who previously featured on this list with the masterpiece that is Bohemian Rhapsody. That song was a huge success for the group and when we join them in 1978 they have released their seventh album, Jazz. Late on in the album 1001 Songs have found a track by the name of Don’t Stop Me Now.
Written by Freddie Mercury, Don’t Stop Me Now is a blisteringly energetic rock number, an ode to living one’s life, enjoying it and not being held back by others. Throughout the track, Mercury sings to us of how he is going to live his life to the fullest. He uses a series of metaphors to capture this feeling of ecstasy and wonder that is carrying him away. Mercury goes beyond the realms of science in describing his emotions, being a rocket heading to Mars one minute and the next his temperature is 200 degrees. The life Mercury wants here is to be going out and enjoying the world, meeting people and, of course, having lots of sex as well. The refrain of “don’t stop me now” is Mercury’s plea for others to leave him be, to respect who he is and to not hold him back in pursuing the good times.
Don’t Stop Me Now is one of my favourite songs by Queen though strangely it only just nudged into the UK Top 10 rather than troubling the top of the charts. For me, this is better than Bohemian Rhapsody and there are rumours that back in my university days I may have joined an effusive nightclub in singing and dancing to this very song but those are just rumours and I don’t wish to comment further. Anyway, when I think of the performer that Freddie Mercury was, it is all encapsulated in this one song, a man full of energy and dreams, one who adored his fans and they him, even more so when he sadly died in 1991 at the age of 46. Time has been kind to the song with its appearance in television and films. It was notably used in Edgar Wright’s 2004 comedy, Shaun of the Dead, where it was demonstrated as excellent background music when you and a group of friends are beating a zombie round the head with snooker cues. Worth noting.
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)
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)
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)