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!
Mad Season – River of Deceit (1995)
” River of Deceit” is a song by the American rock band Mad Season, released in 1995 as the first single from the band’s only studio album, (1995). The song reached number two on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and is the band’s most well known song.
We’re leaving the Republic of Ireland today, dear reader, and making our way back to the US and to Seattle, Washington, to immerse ourselves in the grunge rock scene once again. Formed in 1994, Mad Season were a supergroup made up of members from other bands taking breaks from their respective band commitments. Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) and John Baker Saunders were the members. We join the group in 1995 with their debut album, Above, and 1001 Songs have gone with the track – River of Deceit.
Written by Layne Staley, River of Deceit was inspired by the singer’s reading of The Prophet by Khalil Gibran but also centred on his personal struggles with drug addiction. Staley sings of the overwhelming weight and burden of lies within himself and morosely talks of being dragged down into the depths of the river or swimming to shore and beginning his life anew. On the one hand it is a spiritual journey in search of enlightenment. On the other hand, it is an extended metaphor for the desire to be free and clean of drugs but the lure back into the void is always enticing.
Although I know a few grunge bands and have listened to and enjoyed their albums, I do not recall coming across Mad Season. River of Deceit is an excellent collaboration but there is an air of desperation about it with the subject matter. The group released only one album and efforts to record more material were scuppered by conflicting commitments and Staley’s continued drug struggles. In the end the deaths of John Baker Saunders (1999) and Layne Staley (2002), both from drug overdoses, deprived the world of more from Mad Season.
Favourite songs so far: