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!
Aqualung – Strange and Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You) (2002)
Strange and Beautiful is Aqualung’s first US album release: a compilation of tracks from Aqualung’s first two albums: and . This compilation making up his first US release includes “Strange and Beautiful,” “Brighter Than Sunshine,” and “Falling Out of Love.” The track “Brighter Than Sunshine” reached #32 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 Chart in the U.S.
We’re leaving the US today, dear reader, and returning to the UK. To the south coast we go and to Southampton which I think is a first on our list. Matthew Nicholas Hales, known professionally as Aqualung, began his career in 1990 and was in bands before pursuing a solo project known as Aqualung in 2002. We join him there with the release of his self-titled debut album and 1001 Songs have gone with the track, Strange and Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You).
Strange and Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You) is another tragic tale of unrequited love. The narrator has fallen in love with someone, the “strange and beautiful” person of the title. They look on from afar and observe how this person sees many others but their eyes never fall on him. In the chorus the narrator imagines using magic on this individual while they sleep so that when they wake they will see only him and fall in love with him. It’s a modern day variant of Sam Cooke’s Cupid if you like. Of course, these are hopeless dreams from the narrator and rightly so for we all should have the free will to choose who we fall in love with. Earning one’s heart is always preferable to claiming it via trickery.
Strange and Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You) is driven heavily by the piano and as soon as it began it did sound very familiar to me. Aqualung’s pleasant vocals complement a rather lovely melody. The song would reach the UK Top 10, while the album would climb into the Top 20 also. Aqualung has now released six albums though the last was back in 2015 and he hasn’t achieved the same level of success as this moment.
Favourite songs so far: