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!
Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
We’re staying in the US and in New Jersey today, dear reader, so no travelling for us today. We’re checking in with our old friend, Bruce Springsteen, alias The Boss. We first met him back in 1975 with the stunning rock track, Born to Run. It’s 1984 and Springsteen’s seventh album, Born in the U.S.A. has been released. A huge selling record with 7 Top 10 singles, 1001 Songs can only choose one and that is the title track.
Born in the U.S.A. is commonly misinterpreted as a patriotic anthem, one to stand by the American flag and be proud as you bellow out the chorus. The reality is very different. Springsteen wrote the track in recognition of Vietnam veterans, young men who were drafted to fight in a distant land and came home, initially as war heroes, but as the conflict became increasingly unpopular back in the US, soldiers faced protests and revulsion. Revelations such as the My Lai massacre in 1968 only added to the controversy and hate of such a costly war. Springsteen’s song captures one individual’s account of going off to fight for his country in Vietnam, even losing his brother while over there, but when he returns he can’t find a job and is left wandering around with nowhere he feels he belongs.
Nine years after Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen was at the height of his powers and this would be his most successful album. The song remains a crowd favourite and many still embrace it as anthemic for the US. The song does represent a time when the Vietnam War was starting to be reassessed and I know from prior research that in the 1970s, psychiatrists were identifying what became known as PTSD in soldiers that came home from the war. PTSD today can be applied to many people from various traumas but the term began with the diagnosis of Vietnam veterans.
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)