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!
Duran Duran – Save a Prayer (1982)
We’re back in the UK today, dear reader, and find ourselves in Birmingham. Duran Duran appeared back in 1981 with Girls on Film and it seems rude not to check in with them again, though my lack of good looks and dress sense makes me feel a little inadequate in their company. Now in 1982 the group have released their second album, Rio, and this record would spawn a nice collection of hits, among the group’s best tracks including Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf. However, 1001 Songs have selected the third single to be released from the album and call on us all to fall to our knees, put our hands together and Save a Prayer.
With a title like Save a Prayer you would be forgiven for thinking that the song will have overtones of religion about it but that’s not the case here. Instead, Duran Duran open the song with a haunting piece of synthesiser before lead singer, Simon Le Bon, takes us through the story of a doomed romance. We have two lonely individuals in need of warmth and affection but rather than forging an endearing love story, they choose to sate their feeling of solitude by having a one night stand. The song builds up the anticipation of the moment, the couple meeting, the evening unfolding, dancing together and then ultimately giving in to their passion. And why not? The chorus talks of not saying a prayer for this moment, but instead sparing it for the following day when the one night stand is over. It’s very much about this one time, this one experience with one another. The morrow will inevitably be a parting of ways but perhaps the memory will remain of this brief union. Perhaps it won’t.
Duran Duran have written many great songs such as those mentioned above as well as Ordinary World and A View to a Kill which is one of the best James Bond themes in my humble opinion. Save a Prayer deserves mention as one of the group’s definitive tracks. That music is both exquisite and chilling while the subject matter is not your typical love song it has an enduring beauty to it of a shared moment between two people, making a one night stand seem more meaningful than you might assume or expect.
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)