1001 Songs Challenge,  1980s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #641: She Sells Sanctuary (1985)

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 Cult – She Sells Sanctuary (1985)

We’re continuing in the UK, dear reader, and find ourselves back in my home county of Yorkshire. To Bradford we go, which is not where I live, but it’s not a million miles away either. Originally formed in 1983 as Death Cult, The Cult gained a steady following in the 1980s before finding further success in the US. We join them in 1985 with the release of their second album – Love – and 1001 Songs have gone with the track, She Sells Sanctuary

Vocalist, Ian Astbury, has previously stated in interviews that She Sells Sanctuary is all about sex and when you delve into the lyrics you can see why. He makes reference to his back burning at one point which could suggest passion. The world is perceived as a pretty miserable place for the narrator but he finds hope with the unnamed woman of the title whose beauty is described as having both “fire” and “sparkle” in her eyes at different points. To escape the horrors of the world the narrator finds sanctuary inside the woman which sounds pretty sexual. Some listeners have interpreted this woman as being a prostitute, hence selling the sanctuary that the narrator so strongly desires.

She Sells Sanctuary is The Cult’s best known song and would find its way into the UK Top 20. It works with the rich blend of Astbury’s vocals alongside Billy Duffy’s seductive guitar work. The band continue to this day but they have had periods of hiatus, including splitting up in 1995 due to creative differences and internal division. They reunited in 1999 and have several albums to their name in 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)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

Don Henley – The Boys of Summer (1984)

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? (1984)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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