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!
The Police – Every Breath You Take (1983)
A quick return to the UK, dear reader, and we find ourselves back in London. The Police are making their third appearance on our list after Roxanne (1978) and Message in a Bottle (1979). It’s now 1983 and the group’s fifth and final album, Synchronicity, has been released, further cementing the group’s reputation as perhaps the biggest band in the world at this time. From that record, 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Every Breath You Take.
Often interpreted as a love song and even played by happy couples on their wedding days, Every Breath You Take was written by Sting following his separation from Frances Tomelty, the result of his affair with Trudie Styler who was Tomelty’s best friend! Ouch. The song is not romantic. Instead, it is written from the perspective of a narrator who appears to have seen a relationship end but they now essentially obsess and possibly even stalk their former lover. Watching a person’s every breath and every step may sound romantic initially but when you take a step back it is actually pretty sinister. The narrator is clearly hurting at the end of this love affair but if they were as possessive in this relationship as they seem out of it then you can hardly blame their former lover for ending things.
Every Breath You Take is often cited as The Police’s best song and it would top both the UK and US charts. It’s a terrific piece of work with that memorable guitar riff, not to mention the gorgeous but haunting music video that accompanied it. The song would be sampled in 1997 by Puff Daddy on his huge selling hit, I’ll Be Missing You, so has very much stood the test of time. In the tour that followed Sting would feel that The Police had reached their peak and began pursuing solo material. A failed attempt at a sixth album in 1986 spelled the end of the group but a reunion in 2007 – 2008 was one of the most successful in music history. Clearly, the public still couldn’t get enough of The Police.
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)