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!
XTC – Dear God (1986)
” Dear God” is a song by the English rock band XTC that was first released as a non-album single with the A-side ” Grass”. Written by Andy Partridge, it was inspired by a series of books with the same title, seen by Partridge as exploitation of children.
Well, we exported house music from Chicago to the UK yesterday, dear reader, so it seems sensible to return to the UK ourselves today. We’re in Swindon of all places. Formed in 1972 Star Park became The Helium Kidz in 1974 and then XTC in 1975. A rock band that liked to experiment, XTC quit touring in 1982 and focused solely on the studio to put together groundbreaking new ideas. When we join the group in 1986 it is with a non-album B-side by the name of Dear God, not considered for the album – Skylarking.
Considered very controversial upon release, Dear God is from the perspective of an agnostic who has begun to lean down the path towards atheism. The song is structured in the form of a series of letters addressed to god. Each verse highlights the problems on earth and asks god with great incredulity how this can be from such a deity. We hear of people starving, people fighting, others struggling in general, the overall picture is not one of a beautiful world, it is a wasteland. If god is real then how can he stand by and watch all of this suffering? The song dares to question, to ask why, and for that alone it would inevitably be controversial and divisive.
Dear God tackles an interesting subject, the breakdown of one’s faith in religion. It happens to a lot of people. I have been on this journey myself. From a young age I was agnostic and then evolved to atheism but that was my choice and I am not in any way here to influence any readers either way. Your faith is your own. The song did become controversial on release, even leading to violence in some places. I think the message is a good one, not designed to influence or manipulate others but just to point out that some people do have a crisis with their faith.
Favourite songs so far: