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 Clash – London Calling (1979)
We’re continuing in the UK today, dear reader, and find ourselves back in London and in the company of The Clash, making their second appearance on our list. When we pick up their story in 1979 it is with the release of their third album, London Calling, considered by many to be their crowning achievement. 1001 Songs have scratched their heads and decided to go with the album’s title track for our consideration.
London Calling covers a wide range of thoughts with the title being in reference to a BBC radio station identification used during the Second World War when broadcasting to the rest of the world. In the song, Joe Strummer sings about a myriad of concerns such as war, the demise of the punk rock movement, the approaching ice age, fields being low on food and to cap it all off in the chorus, we are told that London will soon be drowned and that the narrator, unfortunately, lives on the River Thames so they’ll be amongst the victims. The song captures an array of concerns that the group had at the time, including their own future with mounting debts and the need for a big selling hit.
London Calling is one of the first songs that springs to mind whenever you think of The Clash and it remains one of their best. More than 40 years later it still sounds fresh and addictive to the ear. The Clash may have lamented the end of punk rock in the song but they survived the genre and continued into the 1980s. London Calling is now regarded as one of the finest albums ever recorded and with a title track like this it’s no surprise.
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)