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… legendary!
Culture Club – Do You Really Want to Hurt Me (1982)
After a brief trip to Nigeria, we find ourselves back in the UK, dear reader, and in the capital that is London. It’s a big old place is London and we have had many a singer and group from these parts feature on our list. Formed in 1981 Culture Club derived their name from the sheer diversity of the band members ranging from a gay Irish singer to a Jewish drummer. When we join Culture Club in 1982 they have had two failed singles and are pinning all their hopes on their next track – Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.
Although the track was written by all members of the band, the lyrics came from singer, Boy George. The song makes reference to an affair that George had with the band’s drummer, Jon Moss. This relationship was kept secret and from the sounds of this song such a stance caused George both confusion and a lot of pain. The narrator here is beset with the ills that can come with being in love and the refrain of the song’s title echoes the incredulity of a lover being capable of bringing such joy to a person but also to bestow such misery on them in equal measure. The song was very personal to Boy George, so much so that he threatened to quit the band if this was released as a single. Thankfully, the singer continued and the song was indeed issued as a single.
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me would be Culture Club’s first UK no.1 hit and it would lead to fame and riches for the group with the music that followed. The song’s success was helped not just by its quality but by Boy George himself whose androgynous outfits and use of make-up were guaranteed to grab many a headline especially when it came to speculation about his sexuality. By 1986 the group had disbanded with internal friction between the band members as well as George struggling with drug addiction. They have reformed since but the headlines have tended to be more about controversies in Boy George’s own life including community service and false imprisonment of a male escort that led to the singer serving time in prison.
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)
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)
Ultravox – Vienna (1980)