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!
X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents (1978)
A sense of deja vu today, dear reader. It’s 1978, we’re still in London, it’s the punk rock scene once more and we have a group who did not last long but still managed to make an impact of sorts. X-Ray Spex were formed in 1976 but by the time of their demise in 1979 they only had one album to their name and a handful of singles. 1001 Songs have gone with a track from their debut album by the name of Germ Free Adolescents.
Germ Free Adolescents describes a girl who appears to have obsessive compulsive disorder, her life dominated by a phobia of uncleanliness but this will keep her alive. We hear how stringent she is in maintaining her own personal hygiene such as brushing her teeth several times a day. The prospect of romance is on the horizon though with the girl meeting a young man who is the “germ free adolescent” of the title. From what I have read the song may have subliminal messages with the cleanliness here potentially pointing to chastity and the act of sexual intercourse being perceived as something dirty. Certainly one to ponder.
Germ Free Adolescents is another engaging punk rock number for our list with some memorable vocals from lead singer, Poly Styrene. The group would enjoy the plaudits of an acclaimed debut album but Styrene departed in 1979, exhausted from touring, and joined the Hare Krishna movement. The group reformed in the 1990s for some well-received live shows but the journey came to an end in 2011 when Styrene died from cancer aged only 53.
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)