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!
Donna Summer – State of Independence (1982)
We’re staying in the US, dear reader, but heading on over to Boston, Massachusetts to revisit with an old friend. Donna Summer last appeared on our list back in 1977 with the disco classic, I Feel Love. When we join Summer in 1982 she has moved away from disco and started dabbling in other genres, including soul. This year saw the release of a new album, the self-titled Donna Summer if you will, and 1001 Songs have gone with a track by the name of State of Independence.
State of Independence was written by Jon Anderson of the band Yes and Vangelis, a Greek musician, as part of their collaboration in the early 1980s which led to a few albums. Donna Summer’s cover saw her work with producer Quincy Jones and gather an all-star ensemble to record the track with Eric Clapton on guitar while the likes of Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and Dionne Warwick were on backing vocals. Lyrically, Jon Anderson has stated the song is rather spiritual and positive. It looks at revelation and insight within ourselves, finding our own truth and reality and, with that, a level of calm and contentment is attained, bereft of the complexities of modern life.
I feel like I am learning little snippets all the time on this journey. I know of Jon Anderson now from Yes and my prior familiarity with composer Vangelis was in the form of his exceptional soundtrack work on my favourite film, Blade Runner. Together they wrote State of Independence and Donna Summer then came along and made the track her own. It’s a long song but one you can easily become lost in. Apparently producer, Brian Eno, cited this as one of – if not – his favourite song of all time.
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)