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!
Franco – Attencion Na SIDA (1987)
Welcome to 1987, dear reader. We ended 1986 in the US and now we are back on a plane and making our way to what was the Belgian Congo but today is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Franco Luambo was highly regarded for the African Rumba and went by many titles such as “Sorcerer of the Guitar.” For most of his career he was supported by the T.P.O.K. Jazz band in a career lasting from the 1950s to the 1980s. When we join Franco in 1987 he has teamed up with another band – Victoria Eleison – to record a new track in Brussels by the name of Attencion Na SIDA.
This epic track was Franco’s commentary on a new threat to society that had become increasingly prevalent throughout the 1980s – AIDS. Franco appeals to the masses in the song to take AIDS seriously and he laments the danger of this terrible disease. AIDS is something to be serious about because it does not choose or discriminate when it comes to those infected. Everyone is fair game where AIDS is concerned be it sexual transmission or via blood. Throughout the song, Franco addresses many aspects of society, offering advice to people on being safe from AIDS but also encouraging those who have it to look after themselves and of others around them. He wants teachers to educate the next generation about the disease, he pleads with the governments around the world to join hands in the battle against AIDS also. Only together can the world overcome such a terrible illness.
I was not familiar with Franco prior to this challenge but the song’s use of African Rumba was absorbing and the track comes across as upbeat despite its serious subject matter. The song offers a powerful message about a global issue that was spiralling out of control at this time. The good news is that medicine has come a long way since and people are able to live with HIV/AIDS for many years now. Sadly, Franco’s time was not long after this song. He died in 1989 from an unspecified illness at the age of 51.
Favourite songs so far: