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…
Sarah McLachlan – Possession (1993)
“Possession” is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, and was the first single from her album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. It was written and composed by McLachlan herself and was produced by Pierre Marchand. It was released in Canada on 10 September 1993 by Nettwerk Records.
We say goodbye to the UK today, dear reader, and hello to Canada. We find ourselves in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in the company of a singer by the name of Sarah McLachlan. She began her career in 1987 and favours both pop and rock numbers. We join McLachlan in 1993 with the release of her third album, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the song – Possession.
Possession was written by Sarah McLachlan as a way of coping with letters from obsessive fans that left her feeling far from safe. As you listen to the song and look at the lyrics it is poetic and does seem to suggest one person desperately yearning for another. In the chorus the poetry can be interpreted as something darker though with McLachlan talking of holding someone down and kissing them hard. On the one hand romantic, on the other this is tantamount to sexual assault.
Possession plays as a heartfelt ballad but the genesis of the song is very dark and the aftermath even more so. There were said to be two individuals in particular that were writing letters to McLachlan. After the release of Possession, one of them – Uwe Vandrei – filed a lawsuit in 1994 against the singer, claiming the lyrics came from letters he had written to her. This was never proved and the lawsuit came to nothing when Vandrei took his own life later that year. The song proved to be a healing one for McLachlan and her career has continued with, thankfully, no more unwanted letters from fans.
Favourite songs so far: