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 B-52’s – Rock Lobster (1978)
Well, after a long stint in the UK we are heading back to the US, dear reader, and today we find ourselves in Athens, Georgia. Formed in 1976 by Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson, Ricky Wilson and Keith Strickland, The B-52’s burst onto the late 1970s scene with something a little different to their contemporaries. Probably most well known for 1989 track, Love Shack, we join the group back in 1978 with their debut single, Rock Lobster.
Clocking in at nearly 7 minutes, Rock Lobster describes a beach party with an array of imagery, some authentic, some downright fantastical and we have peculiar sound effects from the voices of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson for good measure. We hear about various individuals at the beach, about beach towels, ear lobes falling in the water, boys wearing bikinis, mermaids waving to mermen, whatever you can imagine it’s probably all here in some capacity. The song is united by the chorus of rock lobster but concludes by reeling off a list of marine animals with each one accompanied by mimicking the sound of such a creature. If this is how these animals genuinely sounded they would draw some stares in the wild, no question.
My knowledge of The B-52’s does not extend beyond this song and Love Shack though I did enjoy Kate Pierson supporting R.E.M. on Shiny Happy People in 1991. Rock Lobster is brave but peculiar throughout, not to be taken seriously, just one to sit back and be perplexed by. I don’t advocate drug use but I suspect this would be an interesting one to listen to should you find yourself high. I’m personally not interested in exploring that avenue. Although band member, Ricky Wilson, died in 1985 aged only 32, the band were able to continue and still perform to this day.
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)