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!
Alt-J – Hunger of the Pine (2014)
” Hunger of the Pine” is a song by English indie rock band alt-J. It was released as the lead single from the band’s second studio album This Is All Yours on 19 June 2014. “Hunger of the Pine” was one of several songs written by Alt-J following bassist Gwil Sainsbury’s departure from the band in January 2014.
We’re leaving the US today, dear reader, and heading back across the Atlantic to the UK. We head to the north of England and once again to Leeds, a fine city I know very well. Formed in 2007, Alt-J began as a quartet who bagged the Mercury Prize for their debut album, An Awesome Wave. When we join them in 2014 they are now a trio following the departure of Gwilym Sainsbury but have pushed on with a second album, This Is All Yours, and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track, Hunger of the Pine.
Hunger of the Pine addresses some of the anxiety the band faced when Sainsbury departed in early 2014. The “pine” here is not of the nature type, but of the “pining” for someone type and how this equates to a form of hunger, a need one has to sate but never can. The song describes the tossing and turning of a sleepless night, the cold side of the bed and the conviction that our narrator will be there for the unnamed individual they long for, whether or not that feeling is reciprocated. The track also samples Miley Cyrus, who sings of being a female rebel, perhaps indicative of a strong woman that will not kowtow to our narrator’s demands or desires.
I was not familiar with Alt-J prior to this challenge but am familiar with the function on a computer. It’s always nice to see musicians from my home county of Yorkshire being recognised and Alt-J are another group I may have to research further. This Is All Yours proved very popular upon release and topped the charts in the UK. It was the vindication that the surviving band members needed, for they had feared that a trio, rather than a quartet, would not be as creative. How wrong they were,
Favourite songs so far: