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!
Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes (1984)
Welcome to 1984. We’re continuing in the UK today, dear reader, and we’re heading back north to Liverpool to revisit Frankie Goes to Hollywood. We first met them in 1983 with the controversial but hugely popular track Relax. When we join the group in 1984 the pressure is on. Relax is now heading down the charts and the group are in danger of being a one hit wonder. They need to prove Relax was not a fluke so put their trust in a new single – Two Tribes.
Two Tribes was written and released at the height of the Cold War when tension between the US and Soviet Union was building and there were very real fears of nuclear war on the horizon. Two Tribes can be interpreted as any two sides going to war against each other but singer Holly Johnson has confirmed there are Cold War references in there to President Ronald Reagan while the lyric, “Working for the black gas”, is made in reference to oil and how that became very lucrative late in the 20th century with western powers continuing their involvement in the Middle East.
Two Tribes is very different to Relax but had its own share of controversy with a music video depicting President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary, Konstantin Chernenko engaged in a wrestling match which raised many eyebrows. The good news for the group was Two Tribes hit the UK no.1 spot and stayed there for 9 weeks. Even better, fading single Relax enjoyed a resurgence and climbed all the way back to no.2. It was a truly great year for Frankie Goes to Hollywood and they would hit the no.1 spot for the third and final time in December of that year with The Power of Love. By 1987 the band would be no more but they had left a permanent mark on the 1980s music scene.
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)