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…
Killing Joke – Wardance (1980)
We’re continuing in the UK, dear reader, but heading back down south to London for our latest listening pleasure. Formed in 1978 Killing Joke began as a quartet and emerged in the post punk scene. Though having their moments in the limelight the group are better remembered as influencing the likes of Nirvana and Soundgarden when the grunge scene emerged in the US. We join Killing Joke in 1980 with the release of their self-titled debut album and from there 1001 Songs have gone with Wardance.
Wardance describes a rather harrowing scene with food shortages, graffiti on the walls and the desire to have demons festering in one’s mind be unleashed. The song describes being in town at night and how the music sounds different, how one can move to it but there is the yearning to do the “wardance” of the title. This sounds like some primal instinct or inner beast in an individual is about to be let loose.
I have heard of Killing Joke but couldn’t name a single one of their songs prior to listening to this one. This has a raw and heavy sound to it while the vocals are hard to discern, sounding both robotic and somewhat menacing in equal measure. This is clearly a group not afraid to experiment with sound. The group would enjoy greater success in the mid-1980s but an interesting nugget is that when Nirvana released the track, Come As You Are, in 1992 the melody bore a striking similarity to Killing Joke’s 1984 song, Eighties, but it doesn’t sound like a lawsuit was pursued.
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)
Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)
The Police – Message in a Bottle (1979)
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)