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!
Radiohead – You and Whose Army? (2001)
Amnesiac is the fifth studio album by the English rock band Radiohead, released on 30 May 2001 by EMI subsidiaries Parlophone and Capitol Records. It was recorded with producer Nigel Godrich in the same sessions as Radiohead’s previous album (2000); feeling the work was too dense for a double album, Radiohead released it as two albums. As with Kid A, Amnesiac incorporates influences of electronic music, 20th-century classical music, jazz and krautrock.
We have reached song #900. The final 101 stand before us and journey’s end draws ever closer. We’re leaving Portugal behind today, dear reader, and making our way back to the UK and to Oxfordshire. It is a third appearance on our list from Radiohead after Creep (1992) and Paranoid Android (1997). Now in 2001 the group have released their fifth album, Amnesiac, and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track, You and Whose Army?
You and Whose Army? was originally written with regard to voices in the head of singer, Thom Yorke, but then expanded to take on a political meaning. The song is addressed to a political leader and as well as making reference to the army of the title, Yorke also dismisses this individual and their “cronies”. The political figure he had in mind was British Prime Minister, Tony Blair (1997 – 2007) and at the time of this song’s composition he would only have been four years into power. Yorke observed that Blair had ultimately failed the very people that elected him in a landslide in 1997. Some may find this harsh but Blair is a divisive figure in the UK in the present day.
Though a fan of Radiohead I have not really delved into their later albums after Ok Computer. I found You and Whose Army? to be an example of their continued progression. It is a slow-paced number building gradually with a piano accompaniment before intensifying. The Amnesiac album was treated cautiously by some critics, believing it to be too experimental, but the record was well-received nonetheless and Radiohead are more than just a rock band these days, they are pioneers in their craft.
Favourite songs so far: