Tag Archives: 1001 songs

1001 Songs – 1967: Part Three

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

And so we finish out another year with this third and final look at the songs from 1967 that feature in the 1001 book.

Montague Terrace (In Blue) – Scott Walker

Right, so a minute in and this song just explodes. This song is a bit heavy on the tingly chimes (in a weird way) and thick on the strings (in a good way), which just builds up to the big overblown chorus.

He doesn’t quite have the voice that would work for this. Now Jacques Brel, an influence of both this song and Scott Walker in general, probably would have.

So essentially we have a song that is seeing the chanson tradition through the lens of blues and pop. Interesting.

A Day in the Life – The Beatles

Okay so this is my mum’s favourite Beatles song. It’s yet another one of those songs that shows just how far ahead of their time The Beatles actually were.

There is a reason that I listen to these songs again even if I have done the album before – listening to a song in isolation is a different experience than as part of an album. I mean, I completely missed ‘Eleanor Rigby’ as it just got swallowed up by the rest of the album. Same goes for ‘A Day In The Life’.

It’s the closer for Sgt Pepper and so is the closing track on what is widely seen as one of the best albums of all time.

Is it a good song? In isolation it is and it means I am going to have to listen to the album properly again. It’s a prime example of Lennon-McCartney working well together and actually just how they were beginning to properly diverge.

Alone Again Or – Love

I still maintain that I know this song from somewhere else and I can not put my finger on it.

Listening to this properly outside of the rest of the album that follows it I really do appreciate that weird mariachi sound that they incorperated into this song.

It’s one of those songs that is the coming together of the 1960s musical trends of folk rock and baroque pop. My husband thinks it pales in comparison to the previous song… but I prefer this.

Tin Solder – The Small Faces

Interesting vocals on this song. Not only are they overpowered by the rock, but the mix of the voices sound like they had been poorly filtered.

I guess it makes sense in the way since this is a song that is experimenting with, what would become, heavy rock. Still though, sounded like there was somg gurling going on.

It’s a sweet song from the idea that it was written to impress a girl (who the writer would later marry), but on the whole it was a bit off.

See Emily Play – Pink Floyd

Beatles? Is that you? Seriously though, this sounds a lot like a song that the Beatles would have made.

This was released in the UK as a single, but in the US they got this on a re-issue of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

It’s an okay song, but right now it doesn’t feel like anything we haven’t heard before. It’s a well done example of a Beatle’s influenced song, but I think this is on here to signal the beginnings of, what would become, one of the big UK acts.

A Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum

Yet another one of the extremely famous songs from 1967. Maybe, not anymore, as widely known as ‘Respect’, but still a most famous song from this year.

I mean how many songs can have a title that has entered common parlence than this one? It’s one of those nice phrases (like Watergate) that journalists cannot resist taking for a subheader.

When this is not the best and most recognised song in a year, you know it’s a good one.

The Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Okay so the opening of this song is one that should be recognised by anyone who has listened to Heart FM. It’s like circus music and I think that’s the point.

It’s a great example of where pop and soul could meet in the world of Motown, even if it did take too long for me to cotton on that, yes, this was a man singing.

Sunshine of Your Love – Cream

There are many times where my album and song lists cross paths. This is, however, one of the first times that I have listened to the song without first crossing off the album. The other being Jefferson Airplane’s album Surrealistic Pillow.

When compared to ‘Tin Soldier’ this is a better executed example of an early hard rock song.

That guitar riff is so recognisable and very much like the sort you would have heard from Jimi Hendrix at the time.

Makes me wonder what the rest of the album is like.

Cold Sweat – James Brown & The Famous Flames

Thanks to many years of watching Saturday Night Live I cannot start listening to a funk song without Kenan Thompson strolling into my brain and doing his ‘What’s Up With That’ sketch.

This is one of the first example of funk songs and it’s profoundly dull. Just listening to it whilst sat on a sofa there isn’t that much to it. There is only one change and we just have James Brown grunting as he signals each member of his band to do a solo.

Seriously, Kenan and the rest of Saturday Night Live got this spot on.

The First Cut Is the Deepest – P.P. Arnold

There are many cover versions of this song. The first version I heard of this was by Sheryl Crow. I have also heard versions by both Cat Stevens and Rod Stewart.

This is my least favourite version. With the harp and the higher register occupied by P.P. Arnold it just feels a little bit twee.

I get that she had been through things with her husband that would make this song resonate with her, but at 21 (in 1967) she feels a bit young to be singing a song like this. Or maybe that’s just me?

Progress: 248/1021

1001 Songs – 1967: Part Two

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

Necessity is the mother of invention and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane is one of those mothers. ‘White Rabbit’ is one of the first songs that managed to sneak drug references onto mainstream radio.

How? The entire thing is disguised by references to Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland which, to be honest, feels like it was one long drug fuelled piece of prose anyway.

The way that this song is just one big build up to the conclusion reminds me of how ‘Heroin’ tried to do a similar thing with how they paced their music.

Also, a female lead singer on a rock song. About bloody time!

Purple Haze – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

It’s been a while since I did my Jimi Hendrix album posts. It sounds like another drugs song, even though Hendrix describes this as a love song. You can write a love song about cars so why not about drugs right?

‘Purple Haze’ is a song where a lot of the impact has been lost to normalisation. We are used to a more metal sounding guitar and the chords that made Hendrix famous. This doesn’t sound like much that came before it so there is a lot to appreciate there.

I’m a Man – The Spencer Davis Group

Ah the Hammond organ, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard one of these for the songs list. Began to think that we had moved through this weird period of music. Nope, but soon!

I think that this is the first time in this list where I am completely colourblind with a song. The assimilation of blues and RnB into white music is now complete with songs like ‘I’m a Man’.

Venus in Furs – The Velvet Underground

It feels like a lot has happened in my musical development since I did The Velvet Underground & Nico for the albums list. The more I listen to tracks from this album, the more I see how exceptional they are.

‘Venus in Furs’ feels like a sexy song (I mean it does contain references to bondage, so it’s meant to be fairly sensual). Like you are walking into one of those sex parties from The Great Gatsby or Eyes Wide Shut.

Interesting blend of instruments in this too. You have that viola constantly screeching and then Lou Reed on a guitar where all the strings have been tuned to the same note. Weird.

Fire – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Speaking of interesting blends, here is a song that is just a mishmash of all the big musical trends at the same time. You have rock, psychedelia, some soul and a whole lotta funk.

I guess that’s what Hendrix was good at. A song that sounds like a lot of fun to perform, even if it started out over a comment of an actual dog wanting to be warm by the fire.

Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks

Okay this is actually a beautiful song. I’ve heard this song a few times before, but this is the first time I have properly listened to it.

It’s hard to get romance right in lyrics. You can be too schmaltzy, too overt or just get things wrong. This gets the balance perfect with its wistful lyrics.

What I love most is how this wasn’t about him in love, it’s about someone looking out of a window and seeing the same couple walking around Waterloo and romanticising them to the point of giving them names.

It’s the song that encapsulates the joys of people watching.

Ode to Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry

Well this song took a turn. I had to pause the moment she sang the lyrics “Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge”.

Yes, this is a country song that tells of a family who are sat around the dinner table discussing the suicide of Billie Joe. Well most of it anyway. We end the song a year later where the narrator (Billie Joe’s sister) recaps the events after the suicide.

This is not the song I was expecting; a Southern Gothic tale of a family dealing with suicide. The throaty by Gentry is ideal for this yarn of a song. Wow.

The Dark End of the Street – James Carr

A song about a couple who are having to hide their love. Maybe they’re cheating on their spouses. Maybe they’re from families that wouldn’t approve of the match. The song is never explicit about this, but I would go for the former (I’d like to throw in a gay romantic interpretation of this… but I think that’s stretching it a bit).

You feel sorry for this couple who are clearly in love but are not allowed to be together. They may be cheaters or they may not be. In any case there is a lot of pain in this song and that’s what makes it good.

Suzanne – Leonard Cohen

I mentioned with ‘Waterloo Sunset’ about how hard it is to do a romantic song right. ‘Suzanne’ is another example, but this case it’s an unrequited love.

Suzanne was a real person that Cohen had a platonic relationship with. You listen to the lyrics and it sounds so much that he was in love with her, but could never act upon those feelings.

Something about her really touched him. Beautiful and sad.

Respect – Aretha Franklin

Ending on one of the most recognisable songs from the 1960s here. This has seriously been one of the best sets of songs that I have so far done from the 1001 list.

The fact that this song of female empowerment started out as a song about a desperate man wanting some respect from his wife just floors me.

Aretha Franklin truly made this song her own and the rest, as they say, is history.

Progress: 238/1021

1001 Songs – 1967: Part One

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

1967. For many appreciators of rock music this was a banner year. It saw the release of Sgt. Pepper, The Velvet Underground & Nico, two Jimi Hendrix albums and Forever Changes to name but a few.

Psychadelic rock was reaching the top of its game and I think this will end up being shown in the three song posts where I go through the 30 songs on the 1001 list that came out in 1967.

The End – The Doors

We start the year with one of the longer songs on the entire list, as well as being a song from I covered not too long ago.

When I looked at The Doors’ eponymous album the 12 minute closing track ‘The End’ didn’t exactly feature on my radar. Instead I preferred tracks like ‘End of the Night’ and ‘Break On Through’.

As a piece of work it’s impressive that this is meant to be one continuous take. However, I know the edited version used in Apocalypse Now and the context that cast it in probably stopped this song from connecting with me. It feels just so pleased with itself and that just turned me off.

Electricity – Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

I maintain that this is one of the best names ever for a band. They are epitome of what happens when you take the conceit of psychedelic rock that bit too far and then add a hit of peyote.

It’s definitely more entertaining than the 12 minutes of The Doors I just listened too. Even more so when you read the story of when Captain Beefheart himself stopped a performance of the song because he saw a girl in the crowd turn into a goldfish.

Also, I need to talk about the use of a theremin. It’s hilarious and I don’t think it was meant to be.

Corcovado – Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim

Meanwhile down the Brazilian way and in the smoke-filled nightclubs we still had the bossa nova music playing. In 1967 Frank Sinatra released a Grammy Award-nominated album with Antônio Carlos Jobim, one of those at the forefront of bossa nova, and this is one of the songs that came from such a partnership.

Sinatra’s smooth voice works perfectly with the smooth beats of bossa nova. We are so used to him delivering songs with a big band, but honestly this is one of the best recordings I have heard from him. It’s a nice palate-cleanser between all this psychedelic rock.

Heroin – The Velvet Underground

This is the first of two songs from The Velvet Underground & Nico. Whilst this is not one of my favourite two songs, it certainly one of the most notable.

Firstly, we have the title of the song: heroin. No album had featured a song with such a blatant title. You have the lyrical content of the song which neither condemns nor condones the use of heroin. It just talks about the use of heroin and the dependency.

The big thing of interest is the structure. The song is intended to mimic the initial rush (the increased tempo) which is then broken by the comedown (the screeching viola). It’s just a really clever song that’s also very interesting to listen to.

Chelsea Girls – Nico

Oh the flute. That infernal flute. Poor Nico was right about the flute and the strings. She wanted more guitar and some drums, which would have totally helped this song.

Okay so Nico doesn’t have a voice that you can get into straight away. It works with the instruments you hear on ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, just not with this wistfully awful production.

Poor poor Nico.

For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield

The moment that the chorus started with “Stop, hey, what’s that sound?” I knew that I knew this song. I don’t know where from, probably from The Muppet Show if I know my own frames of reference.

A song like this gives an interesting insight into what the world was like in 1967. Just as you listen to it off the cuff you quickly realise this is a protest song.

What was it protesting? A curfew that was put in place on the Sunset Strip that young people felt was specifically targeting them. This lead to rioting by the young people of Hollywood and so this song was born.

The Look of Love – Dusty Springfield

The second of three Dusty Springfield songs on this list, and one of the select few that were nominated for an Academy Award.

This song started out as an instrumental piece for the James Bond film Casino Royale (the spoof 1967 version, not the serious 2006 version) with lyrics being added in later.

Whilst the smooth bossa nova beats would have worked as intended in the film, the addition of lyrics sung by the wonderful Dusty Springfield just elevates this song and, as is the tradition of James Bond, makes it sexy.

I’d Rather Go Blind – Etta James

It feels like it has been a long time since we last had a soul song and we get two in a row. I know that with it being a song about a woman who would rather go blind than see her lover leave her.

It’s a sad premise, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t find this delivery as effecting as I could have. Oh well.

(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher – Jackie Wilson

This is one of those songs everyone probably knows from an advert on the TV or because it’s regularly used as a piece of background music in tv programmes and films set in the late 1960s.

It’s a song that was originally intended to be a ballad, but the producer thought it would better as a more upbeat song. He wasn’t wrong. It just worked this way because it is a happy song and that would have been lost if it had been crooned.

Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

This will have to rank as one of the more unusual singles ever released by the Beatles. It’s a song of nostalgia about the fields John Lennon used to play in as a child and it is weird.

It’s hard to put a finger on this song. At all. It’s just this weird melange of tempo, instrumentation and John Lennon murmuring ‘cranberry sauce’ in the background.

I can see why reviewers at the time might have been slightly perplexed by this song. I cannot, however, see how this song was able to contribute towards the downward spiral of Brian Wilson.

I still prefer ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and I don’t think I am alone there.

Progress: 228/1021

1001 Songs – 1966: Part Three

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

This is it, the homestretch of 1966. We start off with one of those keystone tracks in the evolution of rock and pop music.

When you listen to this in the context of what else was around in 1966 (including ‘God Only Knows’) the complexity of the production becomes all the more spellbinding. There is just so much going on in this song. It’s only 3.5 minutes long and people have analysed it to the point where there are 6 identified unique sections.

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ eat your heart out. Seriously. Eat it. ‘Good Vibrations’ is so much better.

Dead End Street – The Kinks

After the musical melange of ‘Good Vibrations’, this song feels so simple in comparison.

It’s a bit of a maudlin pop-rock song about how life can be a bit crap (see: 2016 and how things never really change). It’s a song I can see The Beatles having come up with back in 1964. Apart from the salloon style piano in the background, which gives this song it’s own character.

The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore) – The Walker Brothers

Oooh and the production values are back up again. There is a nice use of reverb and echo in this song that feels like a slightly pared down version of the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound”.

What really seems to be happening in 1966 is the rise of the studio and the producer as instruments in their own right. The production work of George Martin, Brian Wilson, Phil Spector and the two producers on this song became far more integral in the making of songs.

The Kinks from the previous song are on the other side where you may polish and arrange, but you don’t completely intrude on what the raw sound it. It’s a split we have to this day (even moreso thanks to Autotune), but it’s interesting to see that it is around 1966 where this split began to feel distinct.

Season of the Witch – Donovan

Most people my age probably know about Donovan from that episode of Futurama where Fry falls in love with a mermaid from the lost city of Atlanta.

In actuality, Donovan was one of the earliest proponents of psychedelic rock. It feels that he did this to get away from the earlier pre-conceptions that he was the British Bob Dylan.

He sounds a bit like Dylan, but that’s about it. Honestly, this song thoroughly bored me. It runs for 5 minutes and would have been so much better if it had been edited down closer to 3 minutes as there are 3 minutes worth of ideas. Meh.

Friday on My Mind – The Easybeats

Oh thank God we have a song with a bit of life in it. Our first garage rock song of this section of 1966 and one of the first Australian acts to feature on this list.

It feels like a weird garage rock mash up of ‘Help’ by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’. Not an insult at all, it’s a fun rock song about a longing and excitement for the weekend during the drudgery of the week.

I think this is a song we can all relate to.

I’m a Believer – The Monkees

The Monkees are a weird one. A band created for a TV comedy series that were later able to become a successful band in their own right. Like S Club 7, but without the accusations of racism.

It’s another happy song, but this time one that has been manufactured based on the zeitgeist. It feels like the ultimate stereotype of what a late-1960’s pop rock song would sound like.

I am a bit sad that ‘Daydream Believer’ isn’t on this list though.

Dirty Water – The Standells

Another bit of garage rock/proto-punk here… just nowhere near as much fun as ‘Friday On My Mind’ by the Easybeats.

The dirty water in question is the polluted Charles River in Boston, a city that is namechecked many times during this song. We also have references made the women’s curfew in Boston at the time.

Weirdly, this song was written by the manager and not the LA-based band. So basically they are sneering about a harbour that they’ve never been to. Rock n Roll!

I Feel Free – Cream

Cream are one of the first examples of a supergroup (a term that is probably banded about a bit too much). The most famous member of this psychadelic rock band made up of blues musicians is Eric Clapton.

There is something otherworldly about the harmonies in this song. Like how a group of mind-control aliens might try to run a band (see: the Daft Punk animated film for more on that).

I love the idea that Cream was formed by blues musicians who wanted to rock. With this band it really worked with having their more relaxed blues sensibilites being sped up by the adrenaline of rock. Possibly why the vocals sound just that bit off (in a good way).

You Keep Me Hangin’ On – The Supremes

The only non-white, non-rock, non-male song in this section. I missed all of those things. Thank you The Supremes and Holland–Dozier–Holland for giving me this bit of respite.

Okay it has that rock guitar in the background, but this is very much it’s own animal. Rock was getting bigger and bigger so you can see how this was being incorporated into the Motown sound.

Not that this was the first time The Supremes had ventured into this territory – two years previously they had released a cover album titled ‘A Bit of Liverpool’ where they did a surprisingly good cover of ‘A Hard Days Night’.

Happenings Ten Years Time Ago – The Yardbirds

Okay so this kept making me think of the catatafish song from the Lemmiwinks episode of South Park. Hope that is not just me.

It did not suprise me to see that ‘The Yardbirds’ would eventually feed into Led Zeppelin. The guitar in this song sounded so much like what I would hear in their stuff.

Whilst this is psychedelic rock it feels like that leap forward into harder rock that would start to properly form in the next few years. Still… it sounds like the catatafish.

Tomorrow Never Knows – The Beatles

Okay so this feels like nothing else we have heard so far. The more I do this songs list the more and more respect I am having for the Beatles.

When I listened to Revolver song time ago I hadn’t even picked up on this song with the weird bird noises, dirge-like sitar and whatever some of those other loops are.

I am not sure if I have heard many songs quite like this. I think the Athens, Georgia band Of Montreal have attempted similar things (their song ‘The Past is a Grotesque Animal’ comes to mind), but at least they had this song as a context.

How would a person living in 1966 react to this? It’s astonishing that the Beatles were as recognised in their own time when you consider how unique their songs could be.

‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ is remarkable. I wouldn’t rank it as a favourite song by any means, but I can really appreciate the scale of it.

Progress: 218/1021

Right, that’s it for 1966. It’s been an interesting year for music and, by the look of it, 1967 will be similarly varied with 3 more posts coming.

1001 Songs – 1966: Part Two

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone – Paul Revere & The Raiders

I think I had this song ruined by a rather awful cover by Ant and Dec. Honestly, I am starting to wonder when we are going to be getting away from rock songs with an organ
playing alongside the bass-line. It’s getting to the point where having it squawking in the background is rather distracting.

Whilst I know we are not going to be having new developments and evolutions with every song that we play – this just felt like one of the bunch instead of a standout. This is meant to be proto-punk – but if it’s a song easily covered by The Monkees and PJ and Duncan then it isn’t THAT punk.

Mas que nada – Sergio Mendes & Brasil’ 66

Speaking of developments. It has been a while since we were in the presence of bossanova (although I did listen to some Bebel Gilberto when holidaying in Lisbon) and the sound has already started to become a lot richer down in Brazil.

There won’t be many people that don’t know a version of this song, even if it is the more recent version with the Black Eyed Peas. It’s one of those moodsetters that sitcoms use to convince you that they’ve shot in Brazil instead of a parking lot outside of Tampa.

El muerto vivo – Peret

Might as well pop over to Spain for a bit of a rumba after a bit of a Brazilian bossanova.

This is on the list as ‘El Mureto Vivo’ (or ‘The Living Dead’ in English) is one of the most played and most famous example of a Catalan rumba song. Not a lot to say here to be honest other than the fact that I wish we had more songs like this. Songs that were different from the big movements in rock/punk/soul that we are seeing elsewhere on the list.

Still, good to be developing that breadth of knowledge.

Tomorrow Is a Long Time – Elvis Presley

A Bob Dylan song as recorded by Elvis Presley. Sure, why the hell not.

Despite the fact that both Dylan and Presley are both part of the US sphere of rock, I find it hard to imagine the two of them interacting that often.

Still, this is an interesting bit of world collision here and it could originally be found as a bonus track on a movie soundtrack. A cover that Bob Dylan views as his favourite.

Knowing that Presley actively sought these Bob Dylan songs out to cover (it’s just that we don’t know a lot of them) really changes my view on the emotional depth of Presley as an artist.

Eleanor Rigby – The Beatles

Baroque pop! One of of my favourite sub-genres and I am finally hearing it for the first time. You can identify that it’s baroque pop not just from the sting section but the mix of melodies and harmonies.

When I listened to ‘Eleanor Rigby’ as part of my listenthrough for Revolver I honestly don’t think I got it. I do now.

Just so much to unpack here when you listen to ‘Eleanor Rigby’ in isolation. The interesting topic of loneliness. The incredible leap that The Beatles took to reach this point from the last song of theirs we heard.

Actually, this is not like anything we’ve heard on the list so far. Actually rather astonishing.

River Deep–Mountain High – Ike & Tina Turner

Don’t let the artist name fool you. This is a Tina Turner and Phil Spector song. I know my image of this song will be clouded by the fictions present in the Tina Turner biopic ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’, but with Ike Turner being paid hansomly to not mess with this song… well get the idea.

Big and bodacious ‘River Deep-Mountain High’ is one of those songs that just shows the range and power in Tina Turner’s voice. There are moments where the Wall of Sound feels like it is about to overwhelm her, but she always finds a way to soar.

7 and 7 Is – Love

14? An awful beverage? Oh right, a proper proto-punk song unlike the one we started this year off with. How silly of me.

A while ago I listened to their album Forever Changes, which they released a year after ‘7 and 7 Is’. That is a great album and a very different direction to what I just heard here. From proto-punk to a softer folk style more inkeeping with their name of ‘Love’.

Interesting to read up what happened there…

96 Tears – ? & The Mysterians

Seriously, when will we stop with that organ. If you are not a rendition of ‘Green Onions’ I am not interested in how proficient you are with the organ. The sheer abundance of the organ on this track is enough to make my ears curl.

This is another one of those garage rock songs (can you spot the pattern with a bunch of these songs from 1966) and it is seen as one of the proper progenitors of punk. Honestly I think ‘7 And 7 Is’ is further along in terms of what punk is… but what do I know.

I do, however, have respect for a band that plays with the idea that their lead singer is an alien who is thousands of years old. LSD really must be marvellous.

Pushin’ Too Hard – The Seeds

Once again, we have some baby punk. Why couldn’t we have had more songs like ‘Eleanor Rigby’ (Arcade Fire really is too far away in the future at this point).

There are points where I think they are going to segue into a rendition of The Kink’s ‘You Really Got Me’. Just something about the backing that feels a bit borrowed. Then again, most modern punk sounds like the Ramones put through a filter so who am I to judge.

In a similar vein to Love, The Seeds went away from this punkier sound to something more psychedelic. I mean if you end up being the band that coins the phrase ‘Flower Power’ you need music you can groove along to.

Psychotic Reaction – The Count Five

It feels like AGES since I last heard a harmonica. After a few of these garage rock/proto-punk songs I thought I would be a bit more jaded, but this one is really good.

This garage rock song still feels like half a light year from what punk would become. Still with those musical breakdowns and a howling harmonica ‘Psychotic Reaction’ felt like a smarter way of approaching punk rock.

Never heard of the band? Well, they broke up to go to college. Who knows where they could have ended up if they had stuck with music.

Reach Out (I’ll Be There) – The Four Tops

A nice bit of Motown soul to finish off this run of songs. Alongside ‘Baby Love’ by the Supremes, ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’ was one of the first big hits to come out of the Motown record label.

Interesting to hear the strain in the voice of the lead singer during this song. His range was a baritone and he was being asked to sing a song for a tenor, and you can really tell that the higher he is meant to sing the harder it becomes for him. This, however, gives the song a sense of urgency that only adds to it.

Progress: 207/1021

One more post left and that’s 1966 covered. I wonder what gems I will be listening to next time.

1001 Songs – 1966: Part One

Right so this year is so large that I’m splitting it into three parts of 10-11 songs apiece. Looking at the names that are going to be covered this year it is little wonder. It’s like all these titans of music just woke up and started going on a hit-making rampage.

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Et moi, et moi, et moi – Jacques Dutronc

French Bob Dylan? Is that you? Seriously though, how much does this sound like if Bob Dylan suddenly took it upon himself to sing in French. Not a criticism in anyway, but it’s just so interesting to see how quickly an artist can influence another. Similarly there are other acts you can hear here such as the Kinks.

This song itself is rather self centred (ergo the title), but that’s pretty much the point. It’s not like anything we’ve yet heard come out of France (or the European mainland), which makes this song particularly stand out.

Stay with Me – Lorraine Ellison

One of those songs that was the case of serendipity. A last-minute cancellation by Frank Sinatra meant there was an already paid for slot available at a recording studio (as well as an already hired orchestra) – and here is the song that came out of this.

The richness and bombast of the orchestral background to this song with the powerful voice of Lorraine Ellison make for a wonderful pairing – and might not have been something we’d have heard if not for the cancellation.

Al-atlal – Umm Kulthum

At over 10 minutes long ‘Al-atlal’ is one of the longest songs on this list. This is also considered to be one of the best Arab songs of the 20th century with the singer, Umm Kulthum, being the most celebrated Arab singer (possibly) ever.

It’s fairly hard to talk about a song like this because of our lack of exposure to this sort of music. Also, it is hard to talk about this song because it is heavily improvised. The version we found was 10 minutes 30 seconds, and that was only because it cuts out. Some performances of this song could stretch well over half an hour.

You’re Gonna Miss Me – The Thirteenth Floor Elevators

After that rather long Arabian musical interlude I need to get my head back into the world of what was going on in Western music.

Here we are with a furthering of the ‘garage rock’ that started to creep in during our last listen. It’s taking that garage rock and giving it just that bit of a psychedelic polish that was so popular at the time.

Apparently you can hear an electric jug being played in this. I think I missed it.

Substitute – The Who

You never really hear the tambourine in songs anymore. It’s one of those things that really makes this song scream 1960s.

It feels like The Who have really softened up since ‘My Generation’ and they have some ways to go until they reach the power pop of Tommy. This feels like a song that the Beatles could have written if their music had more of an edge to it (just listen to some of the lyrics, which betray that it started out as a riff on a Rolling Stones song).

Eight Miles High – The Byrds

Pure psychedelia here. As with songs by the Mamas and the Papas and The Beach Boys we have those California cool harmonies.

It’s also highly experimental (leading the term raga rock) with its guitar playing. We see similar things when the Beatles release St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I never think of The Byrds when I think of musical breakthroughs of the 1960s. Probably time to re-evaluate.

Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks

“Oh look how wealthy I am, pity about all the taxes I have to pay now.” That’s pretty much the takeaway I got from the first verse of this song. I get that it’s written to be mocking of the richer classes and the ennui they can feel.

I also get that, at the time, you would have to pay 95% tax for earnings over a certain amount. Still, rich people problems eh?

Paint It, Black – The Rolling Stones

One of only two songs on this list of ten where I have that immediate recognition from the title. It probably helps that I listened to it on Aftermath as part of my other musical blog project.

As with ‘Eight Miles High’ we have another example of raga rock. They don’t go into it as experimentally as the Byrds, but this is a fantastic song.

I know I didn’t like Aftermath as an album, but the more this song really grows on me. Even though, as a song, I don’t know if it actually has an end.

Summer in the City – The Lovin’ Spoonful

Oh my God it’s this song. You know that moment you know a song really well and you have no idea how? That’s how I feel with this song. Although, I don’t think I had previously heard the bits with the car horns and the pneumatic drill.

With the exception of the final song on this list, ‘Summer in the City’ is the most pop of anything in this blog entry. It’s something that I swear I have heard in various films and TV shows where they are trying to give that summery feel.

Also, here is another song that doesn’t end. Is this something I have only just noticed?

God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

‘God Only Knows’ ranked among my favourite songs of all time. It’s a song that I kept thinking about with my wedding (although apparently, since it was a civil ceremony and this song mentions God it was a bit sketchy… pathetic, right?) even though the first line is “I may not always love you”.

It’s one of the most beautifully and brutally honest songs about love that has ever been put on recorded. Doing the 1001 songs list helps me appreciate all of the musical threads that have come together to make this and the other songs on Pet Sounds.

The big and layered production. The rise of psychedelic rock through folk music. The close harmonies. Even that tambourine. The key changes. It’s all come together to make this wonderful song that, thanks to the beginning sequence of Big Love, makes me think of ice skating with someone I love.

Progress: 196/1021

1001 Songs – 1965: Part Two

And now the thrilling conclusion to 1965. If you think this is a lot of songs just wait until 1966 – that’s going to end up being split in 3.

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan

Our first track sung by Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan. This song would have had more effect on our listening if it hadn’t ended up being the first of the second half. This is so unbelievably different to whatever had come before (in terms of the 1001 songs list and music in general).

The big shock, at least for me, is just how successful this was. It isn’t like Bob Dylan was this artist that was appreciated by music-lovers only and not as much the mainstream. This song managed to get to the top reaches of the singles charts. That’s incredibly when you actually think about this cynical, biting poem set to music was able to reach the same notice as girl groups and the Beatles.

People Get Ready – The Impressions

I’m missing something with this one. I get that the imagery in this track is making reference to the Underground Railroad movement that helped to free slaves in the Southern states. I get that this was written at a time where the Civil Rights Movement was making tracks and that this was a good rallying cry that could be used in the churches. However, this is ranked so highly in so many best of lists… and I just hear a fairly generic gospel song from the 1960s.

Looks like this might just be me.

Who Do You Love – The Preachers

Well. That was different.

This is described as being a ‘high energy’ version of a Bo Diddley song. Not sure if that’s an adequate description. This is not on the list because it’s one of the best songs, but because of what it represents: proto-punk.

What we have here is a band trying to take the rock and roll sound and play it harder, faster, rawer and screamier (okay not a word). It’s not punk as we know it, but in the context of what was around at the time this is something very different.

Now to rescue my eardrums before moving on. Ouch.

The Carnival Is Over – The Seekers

This is more of what I expect from a 1960s song. A hugely successful pop-folk hybrid that sold over 1.4 million copies in the UK alone.

With this level of nostalgic melancholy it is unsurprising that this track originates from an old folk song – specifically a Russian folk song. It’s melody has been adapted by the brother of Dusty Springfield who also composed lyrics that were vastly different to the original Russian ones (which were about a peasant uprising… cheery).

This is just one of those nice inoffensive songs that just sounds good. Middle of the road, but good.

Psycho – The Sonics

This is another one of those songs where we are starting to see rock and roll morph into something harder and a bit punkier. It doesn’t hit the screamy heights of ‘Who Do You Love’, but this is most definitely part of the evolution.

The genre at this stage is garage rock (a bit of a Ronseal name there for a type of rock and roll kids would play in the garage) and we are not yet at the stage of punk.

It’s interesting to think that it would take 10-15 years before the definitive punk albums start to be made (Ramones, Never Mind the Bollocks etc) and yet we are starting that evolution in 1965. Makes you wonder what music is brewing right now only to explode in a decades time.

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now) – Otis Redding

Otis Redding is another one of those talents from the 1960s where there is a great sense of a ‘what if’ about them. Dead at 26 in a plane crash.

This song is most definitely soul, but it just feels that tiny bit more nuanced. There’s something in the vocals here and the light arrangement that leave you wanting just that little bit more.

Stop! In The Name of Love – The Supremes

This is very much the other side of soul. More upbeat and intertwined with pop sensibilities.

As much as this song is incredibly famous you can not hear that chorus without seeing the simple (yet legendary) choreography of the girl group simultaneously raising their hand as they say ‘Stop’ with their hand squarely placed on their hips. Classic.

Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan

Back again to the Nobel Laureate. Where you can’t think of ‘Stop! In The Name of Love’ without the dance move, you can’t hear ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ without the mental image of the music video where Dylan is dropping cards with the lyrics on them.

It’s annoying that this song is later on the list than ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ as this was the earlier song. You can tell this song is earlier as, for Dylan, this song feels just that bit more mainstream. It’s a protest song with a vein of blues rock running through.

Seriously, why wouldn’t you make this list completely chronological rather than chronological just by year. Honestly.

The Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel

Damn it ‘Arrested Development’ I had to restart this song because I started laughing at the image of a depressed Will Arnett.

This is one of the great Simon & Garfunkel songs (although ‘The Boxer’ remains my favourite) and is one of those incredibly recognised pieces of folk rock. In part this is probably due to it’s use in ‘The Graduate’.

It’s a weird song as it is about isolation and yet it feels strangely uplifting. To think, Simon and Garfunkel had already disbanded before this had become successful!

My Generation – The Who

Easily one of the most famous rock songs from this era. Like the Rolling Stones from earlier in the year this is very much the pulling away of the harder rock from the rest of the genre.

It’s an interesting structure of the ‘call and response’ that we would have seen more in the RnB songs from earlier years. Also interesting to listen to is the implied swearing – which works remarkably well and helps to make this song radio friendly.

Between this, the Stones and the Kinks it is very clear that Britain was leading the way in this new sub-genre of music.

Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers

Now to end on something remarkably vanilla that simultaneously makes you think of Demi Moore having sex on a potter’s wheel.

Whenever you listen to this song, remember that this was a throwaway B-side. This was not the song that DJs were meant to be playing. This was not meant to be the hit. This timeless and powerful recording was just an afterthought.

I know I called this vanilla, but it is a spectacular song in its own right. Bobby Hatfield delivers the best vocals of any song in this batch and, aside from Nina Simone, possibly even this year.

Sure it is incredibly easy to dismiss this song as being easy listening… there’s nothing wrong with easy listening done this well.

Progress: 186/1021

1001 Songs – 1965: Part One

Now we have reached 1965 I think this list is at the point where nearly every year is going to be split up. In total there are 22 songs listed for 1965 and I will be doing an even split between the two.

Just scanning the names of some of the songs released in 1965 makes your jaw drop. We are getting to the point where there are some real heavy hitters; so it is nice to start on a lesser known one.

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

La paloma – Caterina Valente

‘La paloma’ is one of the most recorded songs in history. At 140 years old this Spanish song been sung all around the world. It’s English version (entitled ‘No More’ was recorded by Elvis Presley and versions of this song have featured in films such as Das Boot and The Godfather Part II.

I guess that it would make sense for some form of this song will feature on this list. It means that Caterina Valente’s version (sung in the original Spanish) must be one of the best representations of this song. It’s nice, although it could do with fewer flourishes. However, this just pales in comparison to what is going to follow.

Sinnerman – Nina Simone

Nina Simone is worthy of more than just one song on this list. However, if you were to pick only one song it would have to be ‘Sinnerman’. She wasn’t just the amazing singer and trailblazer, but also she was an incredible arranger. You see it on other recordings in the Nina Simone discography, but ‘Sinnerman’ exemplifies this.

At just over 10 minutes long ‘Sinnerman’ feels absolutely jam packed. No time feels wasted in this powerful jazz piano-driven gospel number. To see this performed live must have been absolutely enrapturing. Makes complete sense that it would be how she ends her concerts.

The Irish Rover – The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem

From something traditionally gospel we are going to something traditionally Irish. New York truly is a melting pot. Both ‘Sinnerman’ and ‘The Irish Rover’ represent very different sides of the same beautiful city.

Think of this Irish folk song as a tall tale about a ship that gets taller and taller before it hits a rock and sinks. A good fun romp and a lot less serious than the soul grabbing song we had just before.

Needle of Death – Bert Jansch

Okay and we are back in serious town. The flip side of folk here are Scottish folk singer Bert Jansch sings a song about a friend of his who died because of drugs.

There is no ambiguity in this song. The lyrics are brutal, the atmosphere sombre and the delivery is heartbreaking. It’s enough to make you tear up (I did, but I’m an easy audience) as he repeats the chorus of “Your troubled young life/Had made you turn/To a needle of death”.

Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag – James Brown

What is this list doing to me!? Taking me from one emotion to another in the blink of an eye. Whoever arranged this book is a sadist.

Anyway. What we have here is a very important song in music classification history. Behind this light-hearted song about an older man still having the guts to get on the dancefloor and do dances like the Twist and the Mashed Potato is a new genre. That’s right: funk has well and truly entered the building.

La boheme – Charles Aznavour

Just reading though this man’s Wikipedia page is enough to make anyone humble (and not just because he was the French voice of Up’s Mr Fredericksen). To many he is THE name of chanson recordings and ‘La boheme’ is his signature song’.

It tells the story of a young painter looking back on his life in a typical chanson meter. Emotive, yet measured. Sweeping, yet subdued. It’s like the French version of ‘It Was A Very Good Year’ in that it looks back on the past fondly, but without the regret of lost youth.

California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas

How unfair is this. Such a great song written by your brain as you dream. Some people juse have the talent I guess.

The only word you need to describe this is ‘sunny’. Written by John and Michelle Phillip about the California weather they were missing whilst living in New York City during winter. The layering of the harmonies in this song and that flute solo are the perfect accompaniment to a sunny afternoon (or can transport you to a sunny afternoon when it’s a cold day). Lovely.

Ticket to Ride – The Beatles

First Beatles song on this list. With this being their 7th number one single I am impressed at the restraint of the editors of this book. Usually people just back in the Beatles because it’s an easy way to make lists like this.

Why is this their first song on the list? Because this is when the Beatles really became the Beatles. Beforehand they were taking what other groups were doing at the time and making good versions of that; now they are moving on from that. You can start to hear psychedelia creeping into their work.

5 Beatles songs left to go. Again, I admire the restraint of this book’s editors.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stone

I have heard this song so many times (including Joanna Lumley’s karaoke version in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’), but I think this is the first time that I have listened to the lyrics of this.

Much like The Kink’s ‘You Really Got Me’ we have an early example of rock and roll moving on from the dancefloors of Elvis into something a bit more powerful (or forceful) and into something harder. With these last three songs we see the spectrum that rock was splitting itself into. The softer side that is more pop and folk, the psychedelic side and the harder side.

The Tracks of My Tears – The Miracles

A bit of a breather from the rock world now and a little bit of soul. It’s unusual to hear a song from a man’s side of a break-up that is this emotionally honest. The lyric ‘my smile is my make-up I wear since my break up with you’.

Here we have someone essentially saying: I miss you, I’ve been crying, I’m on the rebound and I’m still thinking of you. It’s so heartfelt and the sad lyrics, like the song itself, are hidden beneath a more joyful backing. Layers and layers this song has.

Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds

I have seen the case made that 1965 is one of the three important years in modern music. The other two? 1975 and 1991.

This year has already been able to demonstrate a seminal funk song, the splitting of rock into the three sub-genres and now we have the song that invented the term punk rock. Holy cow.

Getting back on the road of songs – it is interesting to note that the band weren’t initially too keen on recording this. Probably because this is originally a slower folk Bob Dylan song and they wanted something that was more on the Beatles side of things.

Still, you can’t say that they didn’t make this song their own. I wouldn’t go as far as Bob Dylan and say that it was danceable, but it’s still a good piece of folk rock. I looked at their album AGES ago. Come take a look!

Progress: 175/1021

1001 Songs – 1964

1964 may be the last year for a while that I attempt in one sitting. At 15 songs it’s stretching it a bit, but let’s do this!

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las

We start out with a tragedy song. These were so in vogue at the time. I guess it was something to do with the rise of the teenager and the need to rebel. You could see them as either warnings or aspirations depending on your age.

‘Leader of the Pack’ is arguably the most famous of these teenage tragedy songs and even reached number 1. The screeching of the tyres at the end just highlight this tragedy element. This is a girl group song in the same way that ‘Sally, Go Round The Roses’ was.

For some reason this song reminds me of Ruby Wax. I don’t know why.

Les copains d’abord – Georges Brassens

Meanwhile in France we are still in the world of chanson. This one is very peppy and yet it is about someone dying on a fishing trip with friends.

What is it with the French chanson music and using a peppy melody to hide a darker message! Granted this is no ‘La Gorille’, as that was moderately upsetting, but this is still someone drowning. It’s like how you have lovely happy music in the French film Partie de la Campagne and it’s actually quite upsetting.

Then again he could be singing about having dysentary and it would still sound lovely. Language *jazz hands*

Samba Malato – Nicomedes Santa Cruz

Another different song here. A samba by Peruvian singer Nicomedes Santa Cruz.

It’s an interesting pick for the 1001 list. This is on here in order to highlight a different kind of music – this being an Afro-Peruvian movement.

The song itself appears to be a song about back home, in this instance areas such as Angola and the wider Congo area. So basically this another instance of happy music hiding a darker message.

Walk On By – Dionne Warwick

This marks the first appearance of Burt Bacharach on the list. By this time he had already written songs like ‘Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa’ and ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’, but those are probably more well known because of their Dusty Springfield covers.

Dionne Warwick was the perfect voice for the combination of Bacharach and lyricist Hal David. Most of her early songs came from this pairing (and this is back when two albums a year was the norm). Amazing how as a three they were able to churn out a song of this quality.

Don’t Gimme No Lip Child – Dave Berry

Interesting pick as this was actually a B-side (people younger than me will have no idea what this is) to his song ‘The Crying Game’.

It makes the list because of how it influenced punk bands, like the Sex Pistols who used it in rehearsals, who would not be releasing music for about a decade. Talk about reach.

E se domani – Mina

Mina is one of those big singers from the European continent that didn’t make waves in the UK. ‘E se domani’ is one of her biggest selling singles and, despite being a failed attempt to enter Eurovision. Italy won that year anyway so no harm no foul.

It’s a sweet song, but very much a slow Eurovision song. Enjoyable, but not memorable.

The Girl from Ipanema – Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto

One of the most famous songs of all time as well as being one of the most recorded of all time.

Astrud Gilberto, singing the English lyrics, managed to get the gig because she was the only one of them who knew English. It also helped that she was the wife of Joao Gilberto. Still, her rough and relaxed vocals worked perfectly for this archetypal bossa nova track.

Perfectly relaxing for a summer’s day like today… even if this is going up in February.

A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

One of those big songs of the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It’s an incredibly stirring track that is ultimately made all the more tragic after his death a year later having been shot by a motel manager.

You listen to this and you can hear exactly where singers like Marvin Gaye got their inspiration from. Especially when you listen something pretty seminal like What’s Going On.

Just… moving.

Dancing in the Street – Martha & The Vandellas

Now for a complete change in tact and yet Marvin Gaye is still a useful reference as he was one of the writers on this song.

Where ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ was specifically written to be part of the movement ‘Dancing In The Street’ found itself associated despite being a regular party song.

It’s one of those songs that just makes you want to get up and dance. Not protest though. I can’t dance when I’m angry.

I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself – Dusty Springfield

Most people will know this song because of the White Stripes cover.

It’s another Bacharach/David song, but this had to go through a few hands before reaching Dionne Warwick. Interestingly this was originally sung by a man and yet this song is remarkably feminine when it comes to the lyrics.

You also have songs like this and the next one being the start of blue-eyed soul aka white people singing rhythym and blues and soul (seen then as black music). When you think about it… it’s a bit of a racist idea for a genre.

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling – The Righteous Brothers

Now this is possibly the song that caused the term ‘blue eyed soul’ to be coined.

Listen to that production. We are back in the world of Phil Spector and doesn’t that just feel like being wrapped up in a blanket made up of meticulous music. Also, there’s Cher in the background.

You Really Got Me – The Kinks

If ‘Don’t Gimme No Lip Child’ was an influence on punk music then this has got to be the first chapter of the punk rock cookbook.

It’s one of the few pure rock songs that has been encountered so far and has really gotten me to thinking about how many famous songs we are starting to get in this list.

For the first time it feels like rock, as we know it, has arrived and dropped the ‘and roll’ part of its title.

The House of the Rising Sun – The Animals

‘The House of the Rising Sun’ is actually a traditional folk song (I didn’t know that either) that had been sung by many people, including Bob Dylan, for years and years.

It takes a lot to make a song like this feel as if it belongs to you as the cover singer, but this re-arrangement by The Animals found a way to do this.

Every now and then there is a ‘keystone’ song in this list. Something that is so different from what preceeded it and managed to influence music afterwards. ‘You Really Got Me’ was pretty close to this when I think about it.

Because of my Acclaimed Albums list I have been spending a lot of time listening to psychadlelic rock and with this I think I finally found THE song that managed to bring them into prominance. It’s haunting, it’s fantastic and shows you how to arrange a folk song.

Go ‘Way from My window – John Jacob Niles

Well… this probably shouldn’t be one of the closing songs in what has been a bumper year. Then again, singing this at 72 years old and being a massive influence on the American folk revival movement does get you a place here.

Similar to how I can hear some notes of Joni Mitchell’s ‘My Old Man’ in the delivery here.

72 years old and still able to hit the high notes. Wow.

Amsterdam – Jacques Brel

I adore this song. When I saw that I would finally be listening to this as part of the 1001 songs list… well that’s why all 15 have been done in one post rather than being split and I’d get to this whenever.

I love a big song and a big bit of production and this song just will not stop building. It’s a mini epic at 3 minutes plus applause that brings tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my body every single time that I hear it.

It’s the perfect song to finish a year off to. Just magnificent.

Progress: 165/1021

1001 Songs – 1963

I am going to miss being able to complete a year in one go. We are nearing the age of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and a whole mess of other artists.

Truly it is about to explode up in here. Something to look forward to.

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Cry Baby – Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters

Directly before starting this particular post I was enjoying ‘Dreams’ by Beck. I always have to make a weird mental adjustment as I fall backwards in time by 50-55 years.

This song was one of those important crossover hits of the 1960s reaching the Top 5 of the Billboard charts over in the USA. We are still very much in soul country, but there is something different about this song and the only way I can describe it is that this feels more ‘mainstream’. Other soul songs were in the mainstream (ego why they are on this list), but this feels more mainstream and modern in comparison to what has gone before.

It’s something about the layers in the production and how clean it all sounds. No more of this music being rough around the edges. It sounds polished and like something that Aretha Franklin would be able to get her hands on.

La javanaise – Juliette Greco

The star of Serge Gainsbourg was really beginning to rise in the early 1960s. This dreamy dose of chanson just makes it clear how different genres of music were developing at the same time.

We are very much a world apart from the rock, soul and folk of the English speaking world. It’s a nice way to break the flow and the perfect song for a summer afternoon waiting for Tesco to bring up your weekly supply of diet cola.

The husky voice of this song is very much in the cabaret style that I have come to expect from the likes of these kinds of chanteuse. It’s good background music, but probably would sit through a whole album of Juliette Greco (and yet you have something like Ute Lemper’s Punishing Kiss, which is fantastic).

Harlem Shuffle – Bob & Earl

Where are the cars with weird suspension? Wait, this isn’t House of Pain with ‘Jump Around’, but the 1963 song ‘Harlem Shuffle’. That opening horn section has become so incredibly famous for anyone born before 1995 that it’s incredibly jarring to hear the original source material.

It’s yet another of those songs that tries to catch onto dance crazes… but it feels remarkably slow to dance to. How are you expected to shake a tail feather when the song feels like it’s limping across the finish line.

On Broadway – The Drifters

That’s one hell of a piece of triangle work after the 50 second mark. Seriously listen to that triangle. Once you’ve noticed it you will actually find it hard to focus on the rest of the song. It’s just that distracting.

The balance was off with this song, and that’s not just because of the crazy triangle work. Not sure what else there is to say.

Louie Louie – The Kingsmen

I don’t think there is a person alive in the West who does not know ‘Louie Louie’. It’s one of those songs that films, TV shows and adverts like to trot out as a way to highlight the fact that we are in the early 1960s.

Weirdly enough, most of this song feels like it could have been made in the late 1950s. There is something about that rockabilly steel guitar which makes this feel more of a throwback. I guess that this is still rock and roll finding its feet and has yet to find that defined direction that will be start to take shape in the next year or so.

The vocal delivery is what makes this sound more modern, however. We have had similar shouty deliveries for a while, but there is a drawl and a bit of snark in it that makes him sound fresh.

One Fine Day – The Chiffons

Oh my God. I love this song. Like with ‘Louie Louie’ it is one of those songs I have only heard in other media.

Listening to it now with my musical appreciation hat on I can see the Carol King/Gerry Goffin watermark on it. Just listen to that great piano work in the background.

Of course the thing that makes this song is the tight harmony by the Chiffons themselves. Their vocals meld together to make a song that just makes you smile with it’s infectious and bouncy optimism.

In Dreams – Roy Orbison

So um… I can’t make a balanced judgement of this song thanks to David Lynch and the way he just made it so incredibly vile in Blue Velvet. It’s weird to think how Lynch got to that murderous place with a song that is just so unassuming… so now it is just unsettling. Maybe that’s just the falsetto though.

But hey, at least it isn’t ‘Pretty Woman’.

Actually let’s be fair. This song is unusual, not in terms of style but in terms of structure. There is no real clear chorus and it is actually quite experimental. If unsettling. Thanks David.

Sally Go’ Round the Roses – The Jaynetts

There really a lot of these girl groups during this time period. We even have one more coming up after this.

Now if there was a song that David Lynch could have picked for Blue Velvet I would have expected something more like this. Same with Quentin Tarantino. This song screams Tarantino soundtrack.

Why? This song actually feels quite spooky, mainly because of the subdued nature of the vocals. It called to mind Joe Meek’s work ‘Johnny Remember Me’. It’s an unusual song to have as the debut song of your new girl group, which might go a long way to explain why they were a one-hit wonder, but it’s such an interesting song.

The lyrics are up for interpretation, but the overridingly popular one is that it is a veiled reference to lesbianism. It’s about someone keeping a secret and being warned off of that behaviour. It could be cheating, drug use or lesbianism. I know I’m not alone in hoping it’s the third one… just because it would make this song stand out even more.

Be My Baby – The Ronettes

How different is this to the previous song? Very different. We are back in the warm(ish?) embrace of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound.

Every now and then we have one of those songs that is incredibly important – and this is important because of how it shaped Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. It’s hard to think that these layers of sound in a song were once brand new, so it makes sense that people (like Wilson) would be taken aback by it and try to make sense of it.

It’s possibly that ‘God Only Knows’ may not exist as we know it if not for this song. Something to be thankful for.

Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen

Oh god Family Guy. This is an interesting entry on the list as it’s an example of an extremely successful mash-up song (think Jive Bunny, but more obnoxious).

‘Surfin’ Bird’ is actually a mash-up of two very similar sounding songs by the Rivingtons, and this mash-up by the Trashmen was done based on the similarity of these songs. Obviously a legal battle was involved and the Rivingtons won rights to ‘Surfin’ Bird’… but if you release two songs as singles that are THIS similar… well you’re just asking for a mash-up.

Sapore di sale – Gino Paoli

After the… whatever that is of ‘Surfin’ Bird’ it’s a song that is fairly non-descript. It is just another slow male-led pop song, in this case it’s in Italian. Bit of a meh song to end the year on to be honest…

Progress: 149/1021