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!
New Order – Blue Monday (1983)
We find ourselves back in the UK for a few days now, dear reader and make our way north to Manchester. New Order were formed in 1980 with its members – Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris – all having been in Joy Division, led by singer Ian Curtis. When Curtis died in May 1980, the surviving members chose to continue but as a new band. When we join them in 1983, New Order have largely been overshadowed by the legacy of Joy Division but that is about to change with a new song entitled Blue Monday.
Blue Monday was strangely born of the group’s disdain for encores which they opted not to do. When the crowds became increasingly frustrated the group had in mind a piece of music they could set playing for the crowd to keep them happy while they walked back off stage! Instead, Blue Monday was born, combining synthpop with disco acts of the 1970s such as Donna Summer and Sylvester. The lyrics are open to debate but seem to attest to an individual in a toxic relationship who is feeling the full impact of being badly treated. Some interpreters have linked the song to Ian Curtis, believing it may reflect his own troubled mind at the end of his life with his marriage struggling and not helped by an affair he was having.
Blue Monday holds the accolade of being the best selling 12” single of all time which is no mean feat. Shifting more than 1 million copies in the UK, the song has had a huge impact on dance music and remains critically acclaimed to this day. It would lead to a change of fortune for New Order who followed this up with some great songs such as True Faith, Confusion and the World Cup track, World in Motion with John Barnes doing a spot of rapping. Joy Division will always be the more celebrated music outfit but New Order achieved the remarkable by forging a career in the aftermath of their former band’s demise.
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)