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 Jacksons – Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) (1978)
We’re leaving California behind today, dear reader, and making our way to Indiana to catch up with The Jackson 5. We previously saw them on the blog back in 1969 with I Want You Back. We join the brothers in 1978 and a few things have changed. The group have left Motown and joined a new record label – Epic – with Jermaine remaining with Motown and Randy taking his place to continue a quintet of singers. Younger brother, Michael, was only 11 when he last appeared on our list at the end of the 1960s, but now he is 20 and starting to write songs, one of which is 1001 Songs’ choice today – Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground).
In Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground), Michael takes the lead vocal and his narrator is singing to a girl who he really likes but we’re unclear if she feels the same way about him. The narrator talks of this girl walking around town, how great she looks, how he wants to be with her and he beseeches her to make this blessed union happen because he is simply out of his mind with love for her. In the chorus, the narrator seems to be suggesting that the two of them hit the dance floor together, enjoy the rhythm of the music and become closer for the experience.
This song has a nice beat to it from the off and when you hear Michael Jackson singing the opening lines there is no question we are listening to the adult Michael. His voice is now closer to the many hits he would enjoy as a solo artist, especially in the 1980s. This song represents a time when Jackson was juggling this group and his increasing solo commitments but one would soon have to give way as mega stardom was just around the corner.
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)