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…
Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes (1984)
We’re staying in the UK, dear reader, but heading north beyond England to Glasgow in Scotland. Formed in 1982 by Lloyd Cole while at Glasgow University, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions were together for less than ten years but left their mark on the 1980s. When we join the group in 1984 they have released their debut album, Rattlesnakes, and instead of going with singles from the record 1001 Songs have gone with the title track.
Rattlesnakes is the story of Jodie who is a down on your luck young woman, possibly a teenager, trying to find her place in the world. Hers is a sad tale. She wears a hat even though it hasn’t rained in nearly a week and has a gun by her side for all the rattlesnakes, either literal ones or metaphorical demons that plague her past, present and future. Jodie’s life is a difficult one with mention of a baby she never had, either miscarried or aborted, and yet she still has hope in her existence. The darkness enshrouds her at this moment in time but she searches for love, for a kind of salvation from the path she traverses.
I wasn’t familiar with Lloyd Cole & The Commotions but I thoroughly enjoyed Rattlesnakes. The lyrics here are so evocative and I understand from what I have read that Cole was overdosing on Bob Dylan when he wrote the songs for this album. You get a feel of that with this song. It tells a compelling story just as Dylan has been doing more than 50 years with his own music. By 1989 the group had decided to split up with Lloyd Cole pursuing a solo career but what a debut this album sounds like.
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)
Ultravox – Vienna (1980)
Don Henley – The Boys of Summer (1984)
The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? (1984)