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!
Placebo – Nancy Boy (1996)
” Nancy Boy” is a song by British alternative rock band Placebo, released on 20 January 1997, as the fourth single from their debut self-titled album, released on Hut Records. As with their first single ” Come Home”, the single edit is a re-recorded version, noticeably different from the album version.
We’re leaving the US today, dear reader, and returning to the UK and to London. Formed in 1994, Placebo appeared around the time of Britpop and were considered a little different to their peers, and not in a bad way, I might add. We join them in 1996 with the release of their self-titled debut album. From there, 1001 Songs have gone with the track that became the album’s fourth single – Nancy Boy.
Nancy Boy packs a lot into its run time of under four minutes and raised eyebrows at the time. The song makes reference to drugs, living independently and enjoying casual sex. Songwriter and singer, Brian Molko, suggested that some of the content was a dig at people that felt sexual expression was a way of looking cool to your contemporaries, to stand out and declare oneself as someone you really were not. Instead, the song calls on society to move to a more civilised future, one where gender identity and sexual preference are not taboo subjects, but means of embracing who we are and being the people we want to be, without hesitation or regret, and more importantly without fear of persecution.
I remember listening to Placebo when they first appeared in 1996 and recall their debut album was very good. The androgynous Brian Molko drew a lot of attention and with the likes of Nancy Boy he lamented society’s existing reservation about sexual preference and gender identity. Nancy Boy would climb to no.4 in the UK and steered attention towards the group’s album as well. The band still perform to this day, despite changing personnel.
Favourite songs so far: