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!
Subway Sect – Ambition (1978)
We’re remaining in the UK and in London today, dear reader, and still find ourselves immersed in the punk rock scene. While Sex Pistols and The Clash became the bigger names in this area, there were lesser known groups around trying to hit the big time. Formed in 1976 by Vic Godard, Subway Sect were a band with potential but it never seemed to come to fruition for them. When we join them in 1978 there still hasn’t been a debut album but there is a single and it has been chosen by 1001 Songs – Ambition.
The song is pretty ambiguous, potentially sacrificing deeper meaning for a rhyme scheme. It seems to point to an individual who is wandering aimlessly through life not really knowing what their purpose is. It sounds like others try to intervene, to reach out to this individual but they are not forthcoming; they are dismissive. They seem to describe themselves as being beyond the reach of the influence of others and what might be perceived as friendly interjections, they see only as “vile evils.”
I was not familiar with Subway Sect prior to this challenge and from what I have read it sounds like the group mostly slipped under the radar. Numerous personnel changes did not help and at one point the group were about to release an album when all members, except Vic Godard, were sacked. Bizarre. Ambition appeared as a single from that unreleased album and it’s a catchy number even if its meaning isn’t completely clear. By the time a debut album did appear in 1980 the group had become Vic Godard and Subway Sect.
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)