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!
Siouxsie & The Banshees – Dear Prudence (1983)
We’re continuing in the UK and find ourselves in London and catching up with Siouxsie & The Banshees. We first met them in 1978 with the song, Hong Kong Garden. Now in 1983 the group are still going strong but their lineup has been fragile with guitarist, John McGeoch, struggling with alcoholism and stress before suffering a nervous breakdown. He subsequently left the band in 1982. Luckily, during one tour The Banshees were supported by The Cure whose lead singer and guitarist, Robert Smith, was happy to help the band out when in a tight spot, playing lead guitar for them during shows and even collaborating with them in the recording studio. In 1983, Smith and The Banshees headed for the studio to record what would be the group’s biggest hit – Dear Prudence.
Fans of The Beatles will know Dear Prudence. It was written by John Lennon and appeared on the group’s album, The Beatles, aka The White Album. Lennon wrote the song when the band were in India and studying with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. One follower, Prudence Farrow, the sister of Mia Farrow, was so devoted to study that she shut herself away and meditated for days on end without food, sleep or even to use the toilet. Lennon’s song was a call to Prudence to come back to the world, to break from the hold of her self-imposed isolation to meditate and to return to the community and to her life. It was one of the most popular songs on The White Album and ended up being the song Siouxsie & The Banshees chose to cover. Touring in Scandinavia and listening to The Beatles the whole band loved this album, except for Robert Smith, but he did know how to play Dear Prudence and thus that was the track they chose to cover.
The Banshees’ version of Dear Prudence does stay faithful to the original, retaining that ethereal, even psychedelic, feel. The guitar work from Robert Smith is mesmerising while Souxsie’s vocals lead the enchanting music. The song would be a surprise success for the band, climbing to no.3 in the UK charts. It would be as high as they reached in commercial success and I am pretty confident that The Cure did not get as high in the UK charts as this song which is an amazing but incredulous thing to write. I like what I have heard of The Banshees but The Cure are on another level.
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)