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…
ABBA – Voulez-Vous (1979)
We’re leaving the UK behind, dear reader, and heading deeper into Europe and on to Sweden. ABBA previously appeared on our list in 1976 with the wonderful Dancing Queen, one of their biggest and best hits. When we join the quartet in 1979 they are at work on a new album but all is not going well. Heavy touring commitments have meant little time for songwriting. A break in the Bahamas was just the tonic the group needed and, inspired by the blooming disco scene, a new track was emerging which became Voulez-Vous.
A Swedish band singing in English with a song that has a French title. That’s ABBA for you. The title translates as “Do you want?” and the content of the track is in a similar vein to Dancing Queen. The setting is a night out of sorts, most likely in a dance club, and one young man is on the lookout for an attractive person to meet, talk and dance with, the dancing king if you prefer. They are described as “master of the scene” so a veteran when it comes to the complexities of forging relationships with new people. Asking someone “do you want?” and “take it now or leave it” is open to debate but certainly alludes to sexual connotations. Whether our protagonist is successful or not in their endeavours we are not told but things do sound promising for them.
I will be honest, when I saw ABBA were appearing on our list once again, I was not expecting it to be with Voulez-Vous. This isn’t a bad song from the ABBA canon, you understand, but compared to many of their other hits it’s not one of my favourites and although it charted relatively well in Europe it wasn’t as successful as previous songs. It’s considered one of the group’s overlooked gems so therefore warrants a place among our 1001 songs. As I say, not a bad track, but not one of their best in my opinion, which you are welcome to ignore or trample into oblivion, whatever your preference.
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)