1001 Songs Challenge,  1980s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #722: Back to Life (However Do You Want Me) (1989)

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…


Soul II Soul – Back to Life (However Do You Want Me) (1989)

Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)

” Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” is a song by British R&B band Soul II Soul. The song also features the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra. It appears on a secondary version of their debut album Club Classics Vol. One (titled Keep On Movin’ in the United States) and was released as its second single on 29 May 1989.



We’re leaving the US today, dear reader, and making our way back to the UK and to London. Soul II Soul were formed in 1988 and specialised in a range of genres including soul, reggae and R&B. After a steady start the group are enjoying success in 1989 with their debut album – Club Classics Vol One. 1001 Songs have gone with a new single though that the group are hoping will maintain their success – Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)

Back to Life… seems to concern a relationship at a critical point. It opens with the express wish to leave behind a fantasy realm in which the two lovers inhabit and to return to the reality that is life. The narrator asks their lover how they want them, what they need from them and how they see things going. The lover in question doesn’t offer any answers so we are left in limbo of sorts trying to figure out the answer. Later in the song we hear of writing being on the wall which may suggest that perhaps things have taken a sour turn in this relationship but you get the impression that not all is lost.  

There is a dance beat to Back to Life… and when I heard the opening lines I recognised the track immediately. A former colleague had this as her ringtone and hearing it on a near daily basis means it will forever be associated in my mind with that job I once did. The group disbanded in 1998 with the various members going on to pursue solo careers. The lure of Soul II Soul remained strong though and a reunion took place in 2007 and they continue to perform to this day.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

The Doors – The End (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? (1984)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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