This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #495: Never Stop by Echo and the Bunnymen.
I was born during the mid-Sixties. Many folks call that time “The Golden Age of Rock n’ Roll”. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Diana Ross and the Supremes all ruled the charts when I was a child. In those days, I didn’t know much about their music. It was pre-Internet times. All I ever knew about music was what I saw on television or what was played on the radio. During my High school days, Canadian groups like Trooper and April Wine ruled the airwaves. Boston and Kansas gots lots of love from me and my friends, too. Windows down. Car stereos loud. Bass heavy. Shooting the Drag in my home town of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, was what music meant to me as a teen.
The first song I ever purchased with my own money was “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers. I bought it while shopping in Halifax during a school trip in Grade 11 or 12. I loved the sound of Michael McDonald’s deep voice. In my head, my voice sounded just like that when I sang that song. In reality, I am sure I sounded like a cat-fight in progress but, never-the-less, buying that 45-single was the first step in a lifelong love of music and, more specifically, in forging my own musical path. I was no longer content to simply consume what was being served on radio and tv. Now, I was taking charge of my music. I have never looked back.
The first album I ever bought with my own money was “Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton John. She was my first celebrity crush and remained so until she donned leather pants and matching attitude in Grease. I loved the sweet version of Olivia Newton John, just as I was drawn to MaryAnn over Ginger on Gilligan’s Island.
The first CD I ever bought was Peter Gabriel’s “So”. By then, I was living in Ontario. It was the 80s. I was being exposed to a far broader range of music styles by then. While each generation feels that the music of their youth was the true “Golden Age”, for me, the 80s and 90s really proved to be my “Golden Age”. It was here that I first heard U2, REM, The Police and then, extending out to groups like Joy Division, New Order (which rose from the ashes of Joy Division after the death of lead singer, Ian Curtis), Yaz/Alison Moyet, The Smiths and so on.
In order to make up for what I felt was lost time, I took out a membership in the Columbia House Record Club and got a wheelbarrow filled with CDs to kickstart my collection. Because I wanted to catch up fast, most of my initial selections were Greatest Hits CDs, movie soundtracks or special compilations. One such compilation was something that I believe was called MTV Live or something like that. On that CD was a song called “Lips Like Sugar” by a band called Echo and the Bunnymen. That was my introduction to today’s band. I liked “Lips Like Sugar” and wanted to know more about the band. These were still pre-Internet days so, I did the next best thing at the time, I ordered their Greatest Hits CD which was called, “Songs to Learn and Sing”. On that CD were several songs that will appear sprinkled throughout this list, including today’s song, “Never Stop”.
Echo and the Bunnymen were led by a singer named Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sargeant and bassist, Les Pattinson. “Echo” was the nickname given to their drum machine. The group hailed from Liverpool, England. Like many of their contemporaries, Echo and the Bunnymen plied their trade during the conservative reign of Margaret Thatcher. The song “Never Stop” takes aim at, what they viewed, as the hypocrisy of politicized religion. “Never Stop” is about what it means to be a loving person in a time when Christianity was being used more as a means of enforcing conformity than of offering comfort. The message is dressed in synth-laden hooks and catchy lyrics. It sounds like a pop song but, to their credit, it is much more than that. Echo and the Bunnymen have broken up and re-formed several times but are still producing new material as you read this. They have enjoyed an exemplary career, selling millions of albums in the process. Whenever anyone thinks of 80s music as their “Golden Age”, Echo and the Bunnymen are usually part of the reason why.
The link for the music video for Never Stop by Echo and the Bunnymen can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for inspiring me to write this post. The link to their terrific website can be found here.
Thanks to Echo and the Bunnymen, themselves, for contributing so much to my Golden Age of Music. The link to their website can be found here.