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!
A-ha – The Sun Always Shines on T.V. (1985)
A brief stay in the US, dear reader, as we return to Europe and head to Oslo in Norway. Formed in 1982, A-ha were comprised of Paul Waaktaar-Savoy on guitar, Magne Furuholmen on keyboards and the ridiculously good looking Morten Harket on vocals. The trio had had a huge hit in 1984 with Take On Me but when we join them in 1985 their debut album, Hunting High and Low, has been released and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track – The Sun Always Shines on T.V.
Recorded when the group were seriously ill with influenza and lying down a lot in the studio, The Sun Always Shines on T.V offers the contrast between fantasy and reality. Morten Harket seems to be a narrator who is either struggling with life or with a relationship that is either doomed or has already seen its demise. He longs for the warmth of affection and comfort but the only warmth he can envisage is from the sunshine on his television which is always there, a perfect world compared to the harsh truth of his own existence. How can the two worlds be so different? It’s as if the television gives him comfort somehow, knowing no matter how bad things get in the real world, there is always a form of escapism nearby, or maybe having this near utopia flashing back at him is a source of despair.
A-ha are one of the great bands of the 1980s though they are best known for both this song and Take On Me. Other classic tracks such as The Living Daylights and Stay On These Roads would follow. The band continue to this day though they have had periods of hiatus at times. This period with their debut album would mark their peak of popularity but the talented trio of Norwegians can more than draw a crowd today and not just because of Morten Harket’s still good looks. Incidentally, I’m not remotely jealous of the way he looks. Well, maybe a little (lot!).
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)