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!
Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove (1978)
We’re only content with one night in London, dear reader, and after failing to go to Chelsea we’re now back on a plane and heading to Detroit in Michigan. Here we have an artist by the name of George Clinton and in the 1970s he was a busy man. He led not one but two groups by the name of Parliament and Funkadelic, respectively. Parliament was more commercial while Funkadelic were more closely tied to rock. It is Funkadelic that we are focusing on here for the purposes of our list. In 1978 they released their tenth album, One Nation Under a Groove and 1001 Songs have gone with the title track.
One Nation Under a Groove is open to interpretation but its universal message appears to be about removing the shackles preventing one’s freedom and joining hands in liberty. What sort of injustice we are tackling here is unclear but it could be an amalgam of various injustices through history. A bit of funk and a lot of dancing are put forward as a way and means of uniting everyone under the same belief. The repetition of “one nation” calls on all of us to come together and be as one, to no longer be divided by the many things that separate us from one another. It sounds like a distant dream, one akin to the hopes of John Lennon in Imagine but there’s no doubt it’s still nice to dream.
This track is 7½ minutes and is a catchy, funky dance number, with an appealing message of unity, even if it is through the power of dance. The song has retained its appeal more than 40 years later, especially in dance circles. The late 1970s were a good time for George Clinton. Parliament had already enjoyed success and now Funkadelic were also reaping rewards for their efforts. One Nation Under a Groove would be their most successful album. Sadly, by the early 1980s, legal pandemonium, juggling two groups and restructuring at the record label led to Clinton dissolving Funkadelic. He continued to record new material with his bandmates but Funkadelic were obsolete.
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)