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!
St. Vincent – Digital Witness (2014)
” Digital Witness” is the second single from , the eponymous fourth album by American musician St. Vincent. It was released with another single, ” Birth in Reverse”, on a gold vinyl triangle packaged with the album. The song, whose lyrics deal with dependence on social media, and its music video have both received positive attention from critics.
We’re leaving the UK today, dear reader, and making our way back to the US and to Tulsa in Oklahoma. Annie Erin Clark, known as St. Vincent, began her career in other bands and as support before leading her own group in 2006. Specialising in rock and pop, St. Vincent began well, impressing the critics, with their early work but we pick up their story in 2014 with the band’s self-titled fourth album and from there 1001 Songs have gone with Digital Witness.
Digital Witness is a commentary from St. Vincent on the Internet and in particular on social media. The song focuses on our obsession with TV and how it is essentially a window that we are constantly staring into, the world in our eyes projected at us rather than taking a short walk to our nearest window and seeing the real world for ourselves. The song also alludes to both selfies and social media and begs the question of what is the point in life if one is not seen, making me think of the likes of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Twitch, where one can start an account and essentially begin your own TV show for all of the world to see.
I wasn’t familiar with St. Vincent prior to starting this challenge, but I found Digital Witness fascinating and also frightening. Being a regular user of the Internet and social media, I am aware of the risk there is online and how we can share a great deal about ourselves if we choose to, sometimes when we don’t want to as well. Digital Witness is a cautionary tale about not being a prisoner to the online world. The group’s fourth album would prove to be their most successful though they continue to perform and have seven albums to their name now.
Favourite songs so far: