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!
Yellowman – Zungguzungguguzungguzeng (1983)
We’re leaving Germany behind and making our way across the Atlantic to Jamaica. We’ve visited this island a few times now but it never gets dull coming back here. Born Winston Foster in 1956, Yellowman had a tough upbringing, given up by his parents due to albinism. Jamaican society was not warm to people with albinism but Yellowman embraced the name given to him as a slur and used it as a stage name. When we join him in 1983 he has released a few albums but the song that would resonate best would be Zungguzungguguzungguzeng.
600+ songs in and Yellowman certainly wins the crown for most peculiar song title thus far. Zungguzungguguzungguzeng clocks in at more than 6 minutes and I am not 100% sure what it is about as Yellowman seems to cover quite a lot in the extensive verses. He seems to offer advice on living one’s life but then describes the prejudice he has suffered. Yellowman faces people asking him how he will get a girlfriend but Yellowman simply responds he has many girlfriends and one only needs to look at their children as proof of his credentials! Yellowman also finds himself up in court for an unspecified crime but thankfully he is innocent. He also has time to offer an appraisal of his own music and how it sounds.
My description of Zungguzungguguzungguzeng can’t really do it justice. I have no doubt there are many subliminal messages in the lyrics and I haven’t come close to yielding all meaning from the track. It complements the other reggae artists we have enjoyed on this list up until now. Yellowman continues to perform to this day but his most successful years were in the 1980s. Before you ask, no, I am still struggling to pronounce Zungguzungguguzungguzeng.
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)