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…
Portishead – Sour Times (1994)
” Sour Times” is a song by English trip hop group Portishead, from their debut album . It was written by all three members of the band. It was released by Go! Beat Records in 1994 as a CD single, accompanied by three bonus tracks: “It’s a Fire”, “Pedestal”, and “Theme from ‘To Kill a Dead Man'”.
We say farewell to the US and to Minnesota and hello once again to the UK, dear reader. We are in Bristol today in the southwest of England. Formed in 1991, Portishead dabbled in various genres and popularised Trip Hop which was a fusion of hip hop and electronica, blending the two until both were nigh on unrecognisable. We join Portishead in 1994 with the release of their debut album – Dummy – and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the song – Sour Times.
Sour Times appears to be a song of regret, a painful lament to the cruelty that is love. The narrator appears to be in the midst of despair. Unwanted and unloved, they can only look back on the past and recall a time when they were with someone and how no one before or since has made them feel the way this guy has. The protagonist appears to have lost all faith in love and considers this maelstrom they are now in to be the “sour times” of the title. You hope they find some respite soon but it seems a long way off at this time.
Portishead are yet another group I know by name but I know nothing of their career or of their music. Sour Times is considered an accurate reflection of their entire debut album, beautiful to listen to but at the same time heartbreaking in its lyrical content. The group’s debut would be a huge success, landing them the Mercury Music Prize in 1995. The group have released only two more albums in 1997 and 2008 and had a hiatus from 1999 – 2005. They continue in the present day though and fans eagerly await a fourth album, if it ever comes that is!
Favourite songs so far: