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…
Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out (1980)
We’re heading back to the US, dear reader, and making our way to Michigan to visit with Diana Ross. She is making her third appearance on our list, as a solo artist anyway. When we explore Ross’ career in 1980 she is working with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, members of Chic, and they penned what became one of Ross’ best-known and much-loved tracks – I’m Coming Out.
The song was inspired by a visit Nile Rodgers made to a club in New York and where he encountered not one, not two, but three drag queens who were dressed as Diana Ross. There are worse choices. The song was written with Ross’ gay fans in mind but the track can be interpreted different ways. The song sees Ross singing about coming out, about revealing the new her and how she is going to live her life differently from now on. Ross was at a turning point in her career, leaving Motown behind so the track could resonate with the new her. Of course the song has been embraced more popularly as a gay anthem with the title defined as an individual who openly declares that they are gay.
I’m Coming Out was initially a positive experience for Diana Ross but when she received feedback that listeners may believe she was coming out as gay, she worried about the song’s impact on her career. She didn’t need to worry. I’m Coming Out would become one of Ross’ anthems and a popular opening track for her live shows. Into a third decade of making music, Ross was clearly demonstrating her durability and versatility in the music world.
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 – Message in a Bottle (1979)