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!
Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) (1978)
We’re leaving Northern Ireland behind, dear reader, and taking a plane across the sea and back to the US. We find ourselves in California and in the company of a young man by the name of Sylvester. Gifted from a young age at gospel singing, Sylvester would endure a tough upbringing with his mother not approving of her son realising he was homosexual from a young age. After spending time homeless, Sylvester would eventually find a safe haven in one of the gay communities in San Francisco, a place he could be who he really was. After stints in groups, Sylvester began a solo career in 1977 but we join him in 1978 with the release of his second album – Step II. From that record, 1001 Songs have hit the disco with You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).
The premise to You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) is relatively straightforward. Sylvester sings of being on the dance floor with his lover, holding them close and moving to the rhythm of the music. It’s the stuff that great nights are made of. Only when the music is over do the couple head home but they can still feel the melody in their bodies and the night goes on with a passionate kiss and embrace. Throughout, Sylvester uses the refrain of the song’s title to emphasise how his lover makes him feel. “Mighty real” sounds like a good place to be.
Dubbed the Queen of Disco in the 1970s, Sylvester’s track is every bit a disco number with long stretches of music you can dance to. It feels very much in the spirit of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love with a sprinkling of Abba’s Dancing Queen thrown in. Sylvester would move away from disco music in the 1980s and continued to be prolific for most of the decade. Sadly, when Sylvester’s partner – Rick Cranmer – died from AIDS in 1987, Sylvester knew it was likely he also had the disease. Unfortunately, he was right and died from complications brought about by AIDS in 1988 at the very young age of just 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)
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)