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!
Depeche Mode – Everything Counts (1983)
We’re continuing in the UK and find ourselves in Basildon, Essex, for one of the greatest synth bands of all time. Depeche Mode were formed in 1980 and the group originally were made up of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and Vince Clarke. After early success in 1981 Vince Clarke left and would form Yazoo, Assembly and Erasure at different points in the 1980s. Clarke had been the main creative force at the time of his departure but Depeche Mode rallied with Gore becoming their songwriter and, in 1982, they brought in Alan Wilder to complete the band’s most successful line-up. When we join them in 1983 they are working on their third album – Construction Time Again – and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the song – Everything Counts.
Moving away from less poppy material to something edgier, Everything Counts tackles the subject of corporate greed, corruption and capitalism. Dave Gahan is on lead vocals with Martin Gore supporting him in singing the chorus. The song describes the deceptive world of corporate business, the unsuspecting being lured into signing a contract that will ultimately have little benefit to them but the person they interact with has a nice smile and good sun tan so they can’t be all that bad, right? The chorus sings of the “grabbing hands”, the ones that “grab all they can” because when everything comes crashing down the one universal truth is “everything counts in large amounts.” The song does not mince its words about greed and corruption. The rich are never content with what they have and always strive to line their pockets even further, harming the vulnerable and innocent along the way.
Everything Counts signifies the changing face of Depeche Mode. The line-up was different with Vince Clarke gone and Alan Wilder in but the music was also evolving. The sweet pop of Just Can’t Get Enough and See You had now dissipated and the group had turned to a raw but still electronic sound. Dave Gahan’s vocals blend so smoothly with the music and this would prove to be the first of many successful steps for the band. A UK Top 10 hit, Everything Counts had now set Depeche Mode on the road to legendary status.
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)