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!
Erykah Badu – On & On (1996)
We’re continuing in the US today, dear reader, but leaving Virginia behind and making our way over to Texas. Erykah Badu began her career in 1994 and was influenced by R&B and soul and became a key name in the advancement of neo soul that emerged in the late 1990s. We join her in 1996 as she is working on her debut album, Baduizm, but prior to that Badu released her debut single, On & On, and that is the one that 1001 Songs have gone with.
On & On has three deep and meaningful verses from Badu, interspersed with the chorus. In each verse, the narrator holds a magnifying glass over the world and looking closely the view is not pretty. Each verse hints at some form of poverty for the narrator while others have fared much better. Whether one is wealthy or poor, the world keeps turning and time continues on. The song also talks of God and being made in his image, yet there is still division. Many find comfort in their faith but many more do not have religion now. The void between people widens, another day goes by and the world keeps turning.
I am familiar with Erykah Badu from watching MTV in my teenage years. I can’t recall which of her songs I used to see regularly on there but it was not this one. I felt there was some R&B influence here but this track is considered an excellent example of neo soul. Badu’s vocals are the highlight here and the song’s profound underlying message will be a universal one.
Favourite songs so far: