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 Cramps – Human Fly (1978)
We’re continuing in California today, dear reader, but while we danced the night away to some disco yesterday, we’re venturing back into the world of punk rock for this day’s offering. Formed in 1976, The Cramps slotted into the punk rock movement that had gathered pace over in New York but they are also considered pioneers of a genre known as psychobilly which merges punk rock with other genres. We join The Cramps in 1978, led by husband and wife team – Lux Interior and Poison Ivy (definitely their real names) – and we have the track – Human Fly.
Akin to a track by Ramones, Human Fly is a brief number with The Cramps supposedly inspired by the 1958 film – The Fly. The song talks of being the human fly of the title and the peculiar behaviour that comes with such a manifestation. The narrator describes all of these activities they engage in such as having a “garbage brain” but they continually return to the refrain of “I don’t know why”. The lyrics are generally muddled and a little haphazard but there is the odd pun thrown in such as being an “unzipped fly”. Later lyrics talk of rocking the night away and having a good time but, again, the narrator isn’t sure why. I wonder what the group made of David Cronenberg’s 1986 version of The Fly with Brundle Fly!
The track opens with a mean riff and from what I have read, The Cramps liked to lift samples from old tracks and rework them into their own style. Lyrically this one is a little all over the place but I don’t think it’s meant to be taken seriously one iota. The music is pretty catchy and it’s the sort of track that ensured the group retained a loyal following until 2009 when Lux Interior died suddenly at the age of 62. Poison Ivy, Lux’s wife and bandmate for 37 years, simply could not continue the group without him.
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)