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!
The Undertones – Teenage Kicks (1978)
We’re remaining in the UK, dear reader, but leaving London behind so we can head across the Irish Sea to Derry in Northern Ireland. I don’t recall many prior trips to Northern Ireland so I am determined to enjoy this one. Formed in 1974, The Undertones drew inspiration from the likes of punk rock when it came to their style. When we join them in 1978 it is with the release of their debut single – Teenage Kicks – which would become their biggest success and find support from a very special individual.
Teenage Kicks deals with typical problems for many teenagers i.e. when you’ve fallen for a beautiful girl in the local area and dream of being with her. Our narrator watches this pretty girl from afar and imagines holding her in his arms and enjoying the “teenage kicks” of the title. In the second verse he is feeling alone and insists that he will telephone said girl and invite her over to his home. He sounds optimistic. A lot of this sounds like teenage fantasy but it isn’t going to stop this narrator.
Teenage Kicks is one of the most famous and indeed popular indie songs ever recorded. That opening guitar riff is instantly recognisable and its message is a universal one, being relevant to many a dreamy and naive teenager. The song would be much-loved by BBC Radio 1 DJ, John Peel upon release, and he went so far as to say it was his favourite track of all time. When Peel died in 2004 at the age of 65, his final wishes were honoured with lyrics from Teenage Kicks engraved on his gravestone. That’s quite a tribute.
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)