I read Nick Hornby’s 31 songs over several days. It was a good book to dip into from time to time when I had a few spare minutes.
It’s a book of essays/articles that use Hornby’s 31 songs as a starting point for him to write about his wider views of music and the music industry.
I didn’t know a lot of the artists and I’m familiar with only one or two of the songs, so my appreciation of the book was slightly disadvantaged.
So rather than examine the book itself, I decided to present my own “31 songs”, however I found that I could only come up with a few that had any reasonable personal relevance, and my attempts to add more made the list far too contrived to make the effort worthwhile.
So here are the only five genuinely “significant” songs that stand out, all of them date back to my childhood and teens. (Click on the song titles to access videos of the songs)
1) She Loves You, the Beatles.
My first ever record, bought for me when I was about 5 years old. The first answer I remember giving to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” was “I want to be a Beatle”.
2) Bits and Pieces, the Dave Clark Five.
Maybe the second single my parents bought for me. I’m not sure what exactly appealed, but it’s a song that even in memory, stirs feelings of nostalgia.
3) 48 Crash, Suzi Quatro.
Quatro was my first teenage celebrity crush. At the time of its release I’d skip from radio station to radio station, waiting until they played this song before re-tuning to another to (hopefully) hear it again. Her first Sydney concert was also my first ever concert attendance.
4) Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen.
It was nothing like anything else on the charts at the time and I loved the changes of style and tempo throughout differing sections. I attended what was probably Queen’s first Sydney concert and remember how funny it was to see Freddie Mercury’s shadow being backlit on to a white sheet during the line “I see a little silhouetto of a man…” Very primitive compared to their later hi-tech approach. A friend told me how he’d sing it in the shower while at Bible school – until he realised singing about Beelzebub having a devil put aside for him maybe wasn’t appropriate.
5) The Sixteens, The Sweet,
This came out the year I was sixteen, and for that reason it seemed significant – especially early the next year during the few weeks between my then girlfriend’s 16th birthday and my 17th. Again, I attended what I think was The Sweet’s first Sydney concert.
If the list was of albums rather than individual songs I might be able to stretch it closer to 31 and bring the time line nearer to today. But that could be a project for later.