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!
Kraftwerk – Das Model (1978)
Another short stay, dear reader, as we abandon the US and head back to mainland Europe. To Germany we must go and it feels like an apt time to check back in with those electronic music pioneers, Kraftwerk. We previously saw them in 1977 with Trans-Europe Express which was an interesting song from a critically acclaimed album. In 1978, Kraftwerk’s seventh album, The Man-Machine, was released and from the second side 1001 Songs have lifted the track, Das Model.
Das Model exists in both German and English versions and it is the latter which I am unsurprisingly the most familiar with. The song is concerned with a narrator who describes a model and the glitz and glamour of her celebrity lifestyle. There are only three verses but they paint an interesting picture of the model in question, or certainly what the narrator thinks of her. In the first verse the narrator talks of pursuing this woman, how she is hard to get but if he shows her a camera she is a different person. The second verse describes the model in a nightclub, how many men are taken in by her beauty and it suggests that she is available to the highest bidder. The final verse talks of how the model has gone from strength to strength and is very famous now, so much so that the narrator is eager for a reunion. The song is certainly open to interpretation. The narrator is the only one whose account we have and he seems to suggest the model uses men to improve her career. This could be genuine or it is more likely sour grapes from the narrator who has been in a relationship with this model but she is no longer interested in him. Alternatively, the song could be depicting the male-dominated industries that women enter and are preyed upon. The Hollywood scandals with Harvey Weinstein, for instance, spring to mind.
I love both versions of Das Model and have often said to my wife that it’s amazing how the lyrics in both languages fit the music so perfectly. Soundwise, Kraftwerk were ahead of their time but the subject matter here is interesting, almost prophesying the media obsession with celebrities that we sadly have today. Although released in 1978, Das Model would spend time as a B-side, first in Germany, then in 1981 an English version became the flip side to Computer Love which was released in the UK. The single barely made a dent but DJs began playing The Model and the song soon reached the summit. The story goes that Kraftwerk had no say in this yet found themselves topping the UK charts.
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)