On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging 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 everyday (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…
Gary Numan – Cars (1979)
We’re staying in the UK, dear reader, making our way south from Coventry and heading to London. Gary Numan & Tubeway Army appeared not so long ago with Are ‘Friends’ Electric? That song appeared on the band’s Replicas album but just six months later Gary Numan had dropped the band name and reverted to a solo career, retaining the same musicians from Tubeway Army. His debut album, The Pleasure Principle, was Numan’s full on exploration of electronic music, discarding any trace of the punk rock he began with. From that album, 1001 Songs have inevitably selected Cars.
The inspiration for Cars was said to have come from a road rage incident Numan was involved in and one he escaped from by driving on the nearby pavement. In the song, Numan imagines one’s car as an entity that transforms us into an alternative space. Inside our cars we are safe from harm, wrapped in an impenetrable cocoon with doors we can lock and we decide who comes and goes in our space. It’s essentially a movable house. The song seems to end with confusion for although Numan describes the sanctuary a car brings, he also contemplates leaving it and returning to the world, though he is hesitant.
Cars is one of the great electronic songs and would secure Gary Numan another trip to the UK no.1 slot. This was very much the peak of his career and he would not attain the same superstardom again. The song is nearly 4 minutes in length but Numan’s vocals are over after 1½ minutes. The rest of the track is that fabulous music, heavily driven by keyboards. One could argue it’s repetitive but when it sounds as good as this, you really don’t worry about such limitations.
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)