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!
Malcolm McLaren – Buffalo Gals (1982)
Our time in 1982 comes to an end, dear reader, so to celebrate we have stayed in London today. The Sex Pistols previously appeared on our list but no mention was made of their promoter and manager, Malcolm McLaren. By the early 1980s, with the Pistols obsolete, he had decided to have a stab at music himself and when we join McLaren in 1982 he is working on his debut album – Duck Rock – which explored a range of genres but became most notable for its use of hip hop. 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Buffalo Gals.
Buffalo Gals is a strange concoction, relying heavily on the music with McLaren here working with the World’s Famous Supreme Team, who specialised in hip hop and applied a technique known as scratching to great effect in this song. The lyrics themselves are quite limited but describe the “Buffalo gals” of the title who have the narrator swooning but he sounds conflicted given that these girls are “so dirty” but what seems like a criticism appears to be what is making them so alluring to him. Make your mind up, bro.
I hadn’t heard of this song but was familiar with Malcolm McLaren’s name. As I listened to Buffalo Gals and heard the line, “First Buffalo gal go around the outside”, my ears pricked up and it did indeed sound familiar. This particular segment has been sampled by other artists, notably Eminem in 2002 with Without Me though he changed the lyrics. I think it may be Eminem’s song I have heard but the resemblance is, of course, uncanny being a sample and all. McLaren would see the track hit the UK Top 10 and hip hop was given welcome promotion among UK listeners as a result, further popularising what was still an emerging genre at this 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)