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!
Scritti Politti – Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) (1984)
We’re staying in the UK today, dear reader, and find ourselves heading north to Yorkshire and to Leeds. Formed in 1977 Scritti Politti were led by Green Gartside and began life as a punk rock band, tapping into the zeitgeist of that decade’s end. However, as they moved into the 1980s the group left those punk rock roots behind and began moving onto more pop and radio friendly material. We join them in 1984 when the band are working on their second album – Cupid & Psyche 85 – but before that they have released a new single entitled Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin).
Inspired by Aretha Franklin’s I Say a Little Prayer (#249 on our list in 1968), Wood Beez is a simple love song with thenarrator desiring to be with a pretty swell sounding woman. He promises her that she will be happy and fulfilled sharing her life with him but this reality has not yet happened. Instead, the narrator goes to bed each night and prays like Aretha Franklin for a miracle to happen. With a bit of luck and enough prayer thrown in, perhaps this girl will give him her time but we never find out the answer.
The switch from punk to pop would pay off well for Scritti Politti with Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) reaching the UK Top 10. The album that followed in 1985 would also prove successful for the group. They continued until 1991 when Gartside gave up on the music industry and pursued a much-needed break. He returned in 1999 and the band have continued to perform into the present day.
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)
Ultravox – Vienna (1980)
Don Henley – The Boys of Summer (1984)