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…
Motörhead – Ace of Spades (1980)
We’re still in the UK and in London, dear reader, and after taking in the sights of the capital once more it’s time for a night of heavy drinking (non-alcoholic drinks welcome of course) and maybe a spot of gambling if you like. Formed in 1975, Motörhead are considered one of the key players in reviving heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Led by their towering bassist and singer, Lemmy Kilmister, the group enjoyed a career spanning 40 years. When we join them in 1980 it is with their most famous track – Ace of Spades.
Ace of Spades is an ode to gambling and the dangers that can be found if one partakes of this as their past time. Lemmy belts out the vocals here and he tells us about the high risk of playing cards, hoping for the right hand, but to him the whole thing is just a game. In the chorus we hear the refrain of the “ace of spades” being the only card the narrator needs. Later in the track there is the dark side of gambling with Lemmy telling us it is for “fools” but, hey, life is short so why not indulge yourself and see what happens. It sounds metaphorical for the fast and heavy way Lemmy lived his own life with heavy drinking, smoking and regular sex being his own indulgences when not on stage.
Motörhead’s most famous track became a blessing and a curse for the group, charting well in the UK, but then becoming “that song” that everyone shouts for at the live shows. It’s fast-paced and addictive to this day and sadly remains one of the few I know from the group despite more than 20 album releases. I need to redress that and soon. The group disbanded on 29 December 2015, just a day after Lemmy had died at the age of 70 from heart failure having been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
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)