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!
George Clinton – Atomic Dog (1982)
We’re leaving the UK once more, dear reader, and making our way back to the US and on to North Carolina. George Clinton previously appeared on our list back in 1978 with Funkadelic and the track, One Nation Under a Groove. Clinton led both Funkaldelic and Parliament with the latter being more rock-oriented and the former more funk-oriented. When we join Clinton in 1982 though he has left both bands behind and decided to try some solo work with his debut album, Computer Games. From that record 1001 Songs have gone with a song by the name of Atomic Dog.
Atomic Dog began with the sound and from there George Clinton improvised the lyrics. He has been – let’s say – a little too honest in revealing that when he ad-libbed the words to Atomic Dog he wasn’t completely tuned in to reality, having dropped acid and found himself in a surreal state of mind. Despite these restrictions, Clinton did manage to carve out a song. Atomic Dog opens with Clinton telling us we’re about to hear a story about a dog. This isn’t about Lassie or any other famous dog you can name. Instead, Clinton uses “dogs” as metaphors for sexual desire that is found within men. The dogs wander the streets in pursuit of “cats” to chase, cats here clearly being women. That is the cue for comedians to make rude jokes I am sure.
George Clinton was certainly a busy musician, switching between Parliament and Funkadelic at the drop of a hat and then, in 1982, deciding to try going solo as well. A ludicrous workaholic or just someone passionate about music? You decide. The back story to Atomic Dog was interesting and although the song becomes quite repetitive in its second half, given Clinton was high as a kite when he worked on the track, it’s still impressive. The song has since been sampled by dozens of artists, that funky beat being too hard to resist lifting.
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)