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…
The Blue Nile – Headlights on the Parade (1989)
” Headlights on the Parade” is a song by Scottish band The Blue Nile, released in 1990 as the second single from their second studio album (1989). It was written by Paul Buchanan and produced by the band. “Headlights on the Parade” was released to coincide with the band’s UK tour.
We’re continuing in the UK today, dear reader, but heading north to Glasgow in Scotland. The Blue Nile were formed in 1981 and began with a synthesiser in their sound and specialised in art rock. Capable of critically acclaimed work, the band did not fare as well commercially but they have found a path onto our list. We join them in 1989 with the release of their second album – Hats – and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track, Headlights on the Parade.
Headlights on the Parade has echoes of a doomed love affair about it. The opening verse suggests the difficulty in declaring one’s love, in this case the narrator doesn’t seem to be able to commit to a particular woman. The second verse seems to suggest determination not to give up on their love. In the third and final verse it appears that the couple have failed to stay together and are drifting apart. Indeed, the closing lines suggest that the narrator has told this woman to go, to be set free onto the breeze and seek the happiness he doesn’t seem to be able to provide.
Headlights on the Parade is heavily driven by a piano/keyboard that opens proceedings and continues for much of the track. The vocals are powerful but feel distant which seems somehow apt given the subject matter. The Blue Nile gained a reputation for experimentation but also for distancing themselves from the public eye. They have also been known to be slow when it comes to making albums, with their most recent being in 2004 and only being the fourth they have completed. Though not officially split up, the group have been inactive for many years now.
Favourite songs so far: