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!
Van Halen – Runnin’ with the Devil (1978)
We have reached the 500th song on our list, dear reader, so we’re kind of halfway through the challenge though I guess technically the midpoint of tomorrow’s song would be halfway but let’s now get bogged down with semantics. Anyway, we’re leaving the UK today and heading back to the US and to California for our final song of 1978. Formed in 1972, Van Halen would become one of the biggest rock bands in history, consistently churning out successful albums despite personnel changes behind the microphone. We join them in 1978 with the release of their debut album and 1001 Songs have gone with the opening track – Runnin’ with the Devil.
Runnin’ with the Devil opens with the sound of car horns before launching into the exhilarating rock you come to expect from Van Halen. The song itself has been open to interpretation with some mistakenly believing it to be about Satan and devil worship. It seems to describe an individual who has the freedom of the open road ahead of them, living life in the fast lane and having no family or friend ties at home to summon them back to responsibilities and life itself. It has been suggested that the song refers to a rock band’s life while on tour, moving from one location to the next, but the debate will likely rage on.
Van Halen’s debut album proved to be a huge success, shifting more than 10 million copies in the US over the years. Van Halen are another group I don’t know a great deal of songs by and I’m not sure why. Everyone who resonates with the 1980s will be familiar with the group’s smash hit, Jump, but I don’t recall hearing Runnin’ with the Devil before. It showcases a group all about the rock sound with stunning guitar work throughout from the legendary Eddie Van Halen. I imagine a live show is a real treat.
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)