1001 Songs Challenge,  1990s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #837: Novocaine for the Soul (1996)

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!


Eels – Novocaine for the Soul (1996)

Novocaine for the Soul – Wikipedia

” Novocaine for the Soul” is a song by American rock band Eels. It was released as the lead single from their 1996 debut album, Beautiful Freak .



Lyrics (via Genius)


We’re remaining in the US today, dear reader, but leaving New York and making our way across the country all the way west to Los Angeles. Formed in 1991 originally as E, Eels changed their name in 1995. We join them in 1996 with the release of their debut album – Beautiful Freak – and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Novocaine for the Soul.

Novocaine for the Soul is a pretty bleak affair with the narrator describing how tough life is and that they are in pain. Our protagonist is searching for something to ease their suffering and turns to novocaine of the title as their drug. They need this comfort for their pain before they “sputter out” which sounds unpleasant to say the least. Novocaine is often used as an anaesthetic, often in the field of dentistry so the idea here of applying the drug to the soul gives one the impression of numbing the very core of a person. The narrator is suddenly having a hard time but are drugs really the answer?

I remember the songs – Novocaine for the Soul and Susan’s House – from Eels back in 1996. The track – My Beloved Monster – also later appeared in 2001 film, Shrek, which was apt from what I recall. Novocaine for the Soul still stands up today as a fresh, experimental and unusual piece. The song reached the UK Top 10 and got the group off to a great start. Although they haven’t reached the same heights since 1996, Eels 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)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

U2 – One (1991)

Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (1994)

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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