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!
The Pogues – Sally Maclennane (1985)
Welcome to 1985, dear reader. Marty McFly travelled back in time from this very year but I’m sure other things happened as well. We’re leaving Australia today and find ourselves back in the UK. Formed in 1982 by Shane MacGowan, The Pogues dabbled in folk and Celtic music with a mixture of punk which sounds lethal but somehow they made it work. Three years into their career the group have released their second album – Rum Sodomy & the Lash – which sounds like an interesting night out! From that record 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Sally Maclennane.
Sally Maclennane is a form of stout beer but here may also refer to a girl. The song traces the peculiar stories in a lively pub. We hear the story of Jimmy, a popular local, who the rest of the pub are drinking with and celebrating as he ventures far from home presumably in search of a better life. The narrator describes being born in the pub and seeing Jimmy leave when he is a child. He later grows up, gets a taste for the old stout himself, and ends up taking over the bar too. Jimmy later comes home and the festivities continue again but it sounds like a tragic denouement. We hear that Jimmy not only chokes but he takes the “road for heaven” suggesting he may have passed away.
When one thinks of The Pogues they think of Fairytale of New York with Kirsty MacColl and that remains their best song. Sally Maclennane is a fast-paced and fun little ditty with a real Irish flavour. Rum Sodomy & the Lash was well-received on its release, two years before that festive classic. At this point The Pogues were going strong but later years would not be so kind to them.
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)