On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging 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 everyday (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…
Iron Maiden – The Trooper (1983)
We bring an end to 1983 by staying in the UK but making our way down to London. Formed in 1975 Iron Maiden were among the new wave of heavy metal acts in the UK alongside the likes of Motörhead. Lacking radio and television support, Iron Maiden have, regardless, become an enduringly popular band, surviving many line-up changes. We join them in 1983 during their most successful period led by Bruce Dickinson on vocals. Their fourth album, Piece of Mind, has been released and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track – The Trooper.
The Trooper was written by bassist and creative leader Steve Harris and was inspired by Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. The song captures events at the Battle of Balaclava (1854) which was fought during the Crimean War (1853 – 1856). During the battle there was a fatal miscommunication leading to the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade where British cavalry descended on the incorrect position and were mowed down by Russian guns in a suicidal assault. Iron Maiden’s song captures the hostility and madness of war, the narrator full of gusto and bravery in facing off against the Russians. Then comes the infamous charge and the narrator’s horse is killed beneath him. In the end he is lying mortally wounded on the battlefield, staring up at the sky and slowly breathing his last.
The Trooper is one of Iron Maiden’s best-loved tracks and a testament to the group at their peak. Pulsating guitars carry along Bruce Dickinson’s powerful and distinctive vocals. The group were never better than when Dickinson led them on stage. He would ultimately leave the band in 1993 to pursue a solo career and the band’s fortunes dipped. However, Dickinson did return in 1999 and the band have thrived since then. Though unlikely to be dominating the charts, Iron Maiden continue to perform sell out shows globally. What more can one ask for?
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)