1001 Songs Challenge,  1970s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #490: Public Image (1978)

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!


Public Image Ltd – Public Image (1978)

We’re remaining in the UK today, dear reader, but heading back down south to London. We’ve previously enjoyed a handful of songs from Sex Pistols, a group whose time in the limelight was brief but left a lasting impact. Following their disbandment in 1978, Johnny Rotten, alias John Lydon, formed a new group by the name of Public Image Ltd. Lydon’s intention was to do something different, something more experimental. The group’s debut album, First Issue, was released in 1978 and 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Public Image.

Public Image was penned by Lydon while he was still with Sex Pistols and is considered to be a less than subtle attack on Malcom McClaren, the Pistols’ manager, and the press who he felt did not take him seriously as a writer and singer and were interested only in his image. In the song, Lydon comments on how his clothing and the colour of his hair seems more important than his artistic abilities. He laments how his “public image” is being exploited and how he was vulnerable at the start of the band but has now seen through the lies. He closes out the song by insisting that his image is not for others to manipulate for their own purposes; it belongs to Lydon and him alone, and you can bet he will do with it what he wishes.

Public Image Ltd are another group I have limited knowledge of, save for the 1984 track, The Order of Death, which appeared in a 1990 sci-fi horror film, Hardware, which I really shouldn’t have been watching at such a young age. Probably. I wasn’t even aware John Lydon had formed another group after Sex Pistols so that was a surprise. I did still get a feel of Sex Pistols with this song though it doesn’t have the same anger as when Lydon was Johnny Rotten. That said, it’s still a good song and does demonstrate a change of approach for the outspoken singer. While Sex Pistols saw a quick demise, Public Image Ltd have endured though Lydon has remained the only constant member.


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)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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