On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging 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 everyday (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…
R.E.M. – The One I Love (1987)
” The One I Love” is a song by American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released on the band’s fifth full-length studio album, , and also as a 7″ vinyl single in 1987. The song was their first hit single, reaching No. 9 in the US Billboard Hot 100, No.
We’re leaving the UK and heading back to the US and to Athens in Georgia to check in with R.E.M. We previously met them in 1981 with their early single – Radio Free Europe. Six years later the band are onto their fifth album – Document – and 1001 Songs have selected a track that would ultimately prove to be a breakthrough for the band – The One I Love.
The One I Love sounds like a love song initially and I always believed it was but research has helped me learn there is something sinister in there instead. Although Michael Stipe sings of the one he loves and seems to be making a dedication, this individual is described as “a simple prop to occupy my time.” In other words, the narrator is a user, meeting different women and getting what he needs from them before discarding them without thought or hesitation. The fact he honours their memory may suggest they had some impact on him but he simply does this brief acknowledgement before moving onto the next victim. What a bastard.
It’s a strange feeling when your prior understanding of a song is shattered. Looking at the lyrics to The One I Love it is clear that the narrator here is not offering flowers and chocolates to his beloved. He is purely interested in serving his own needs and to hell with the feelings of the person he briefly shares his life with. Despite its unpleasant meaning, The One I Love was the mainstream success R.E.M. had been craving, landing in the US Top 10. After years of struggle, the band were finally a success and they would not squander the opportunity that now lay before them.
Favourite songs so far: