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 Police – Roxanne (1978)
A brief foray to the US, dear reader, as we now need to head back to the UK and to London for a very special treat. Formed in 1977 by Sting, a former school teacher, and Stewart Copeland, The Police would later recruit music veteran, Andy Summers, and their path to greatness began and ended with this same trio. We join The Police in 1978 with the release of their debut single – Roxanne.
Inspired by the sight of prostitutes on the Parisian streets where the band were due to perform at a nearby club in late 1977, Sting wrote the track as a tragic love song of sorts. The narrator has met a prostitute, the Roxanne of the title, and has clearly fallen in love with her. He is so enamoured with her that the narrator wants Roxanne to give up being a prostitute and to be with him, telling her she no longer has to “put on the red light.” He informs Roxanne that what she is doing is bad which doesn’t sound like the best wooing technique but he does promise her such things as not talking down to her so that’s nice. What Roxanne makes of all this we don’t know but it does sound like the narrator is finding it difficult to convince her.
Roxanne was a real nostalgia trip for me. One of many songs I can remember blazing out of the family car stereo as a child. Amazing to think at a young age I was enjoying a song about a prostitute, of course completely oblivious to what the song was about. I certainly don’t recall asking my parents about red lights or where I could get one as they sounded really cool. Roxanne remains one of the best tracks by The Police but many more great songs would follow in the coming years and the band would be regarded as one of the biggest in the world very soon.
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)
Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)
The Police – Roxanne (1978)