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!
Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene (1988)
” Freak Scene” is a song by American alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr., the opening track on the group’s third studio album (1988). Written and produced by frontman J Mascis, the song was recorded at Fort Apache Studios by engineers Paul Q. Kolderie and Sean Slade.
Welcome to 1988, dear reader. We are edging ever closer to the end of the 20th century. We leave the Republic of Ireland behind and start 1988 in the US and head to Massachusetts. Formed in 1984 Dinosaur Jr. are another group who are remembered more for their influence rather than a series of standout songs and albums. We join them in 1988 with the release of their third album, Bug, and from that record 1001 Songs have gone with the track, Freak Scene.
Freak Scene was written amidst tension in the band and that is reflected in the song here. The song itself describes a breakdown of a relationship and the narrator is dumbfounded about how the two of them can find a way forward. A solution is hoped for but because things have become so poisonous it is hard to imagine any kind of forgiveness or reconciliation. The track does end with some hope though. The narrator tells us that although they can’t see a way back now they still need this person as much as they needed them before.
Freak Scene holds up a mirror to the relationship between band members – J Mascis and Lou Barlow. Although they made it through this album, the subsequent tour proved to be the last straw and Mascis fired Barlow from the band. This proved to be one of the group’s most successful songs but they did not enjoy the same glory as the bands they influenced such as Pixies and Nirvana. They disbanded in 1997 but, surprisingly, the original line up reconciled in 2005 and have released multiple albums since.
Favourite songs so far: