1001 Songs Challenge,  1980s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #650: Sun City (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!


Artists United Against Apartheid – Sun City (1985)

Sun City (song)

” Sun City” is a 1985 protest song written by Steven Van Zandt, produced by Van Zandt and Arthur Baker and recorded by Artists United Against Apartheid to convey opposition to the South African policy of apartheid.

Lyrics (via Genius)


We bring the curtain down on 1985 by remaining in the US though you could say that South Africa is our place of concern today. Musician Steven Van Zandt and producer Arthur Baker teamed up in 1985 to create a song that would be a protest against the cruel system of apartheid that was, sadly, prevalent in Africa at this time. This enormous project became known as Artists United Against Apartheid with dozens of performers such as Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Run-DMC and Lou Reed just a selection of the names that took part. The song in question was Sun City

Sun City concerned the area of the same name in South Africa where artists were invited to perform. The United Nations had imposed a cultural boycott on South Africa in condemnation of apartheid but the Sun City region offered substantial incentives for artists to ignore the boycott and perform there. In the song, the various musicians describe the situation in South Africa and how they are all united against apartheid. As a result, they all make a vow that they will never perform in Sun City as long as apartheid continues to plague the land. 

I wasn’t familiar with this collaboration prior to starting this challenge and from what I have read it was controversial upon release, even though it was addressing what clearly was a great injustice in history. The song charted okay but may have fared better had some radio stations not refused to play it. It would be the only gathering, a once in a moment thing, and although the song did not result in an end to apartheid that did eventually come in the 1990s.


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.

Leave a Reply

< Prev

1001 Songs Challenge #649: Manic Monday (1985)

Manic Monday was written by Prince who shelved it rather than use it immediately. When ...

Further Posts

Next >