By Alan Weeks, howiGit Music Writer & Geoff Roberts, howiGit Founder, Boston, MA
Geoff’s preliminary remarks: So here it is at long last, howiGit’s 20 Best Rock Songs of All-Time. After our success with The 20 Best Rap Songs of All-Time, this list was a given — especially considering our music writer’s Rock N’ Roll leanings. To touch on our process and criteria, I can assure you that this list was completed after countless hours of listening and deliberation. There are literally thousands of other amazing songs that did not make the list, and similarly thousands of incredibly influential songs (there’s no Elvis on the list) that also did not make the list. We took a broad interpretation of rock, as many of these songs pull from genres such as blues, jazz, and pop. There’s only room for 20 songs people, so before you argue with us ask yourself, “Is this really a top 20 song ever?” As Alan and I collaborated on the list, neither of us is 100% satisfied with the results– but this is pretty damn close and a great place to start anyone listening to rock music.
Alan’s preliminary remarks: Before we get into the list to end all other non-Rolling Stone, MTV, or VH1 lists, I want to say that as a law student, this has been the hardest thing I have had to do in the past month. While standing on the subway platform every afternoon I was thinking “Little Wing” by Stevie Ray, or “Little Wing” by Hendrix? Is “Space Oddity” by Bowie a better song than “The End” from the Doors, or do I just like it because I love the movie Mr. Deeds? G and I stayed up many a night discussing and at times arguing to the point that physical threats may or may not have been thrown around. We finally agreed on a list that we felt was the best ever. Not the best, but the best ever, and if you disagree, you are wrong. If you haven’t heard of a song on the list, do me a favor Ke-mo sah-bee, take the three minutes out of your mundane Ke$ha-listening existence and plug-in.
Without further adieu, The 20 Best Rock Songs of All-Time, in order…
1) Derrick and the Dominos — Layla
Now I know that we are going to get a lot of rabble rabble and “that is so trite” for this pick, but the truth is people, like it or not, this is the best Rock and Roll song of all-time. We are not talking about the MTV “Unplugged” version here. My boy EC (Eric Clapton for you haters) wrote this song of love and everlasting longing about Pattie Boyd, the then current wife of one of Clapton’s best friend’s, none other than the Beatles’ quiet guitarist, George Harrison. The two had a long flirtation-based relationship while she was still married. Clapton was told about an old Persian love story about a princess, “Layla,” who was to be married to someone other than the man she was madly in love with. This drove the left out party to madness, and later death in the desert — EC related. One fateful week in Miami, while recording the Dominos’ album, Rock N’ Roll history was made. Duane Allman of the very same Allman Brother Band sat in on “Layla” on slide during that amazing piano/guitar solo. The power of this song is what should drive all rock songs, madness, love, and benders in Miami. When Clapton finished the album, he called Pattie, went over to her house, and sat with her while all four sides of the LP played. Yeah, pretty awkward, she was terrified and rejected him. But she must have realized how much the song rocked at some point, because the two were later married. There is your number one people.
2) The Rolling Stones — Gimme Shelter
3) Led Zeppelin — Stairway to Heaven
4) Pink Floyd — Run Like Hell
5) The Beatles — Come Together
6) Jimi Hendrix — All Along The Watchtower
7) Bob Dylan — Like A Rolling Stone
8)Lynyrd Skynyrd — Free Bird
9) The Eagles — Hotel California
10) The Rolling Stones — You Can’t Always Get What You Want
11) The Velvet Underground — Rock N’ Roll
12) The Band — The Weight
13) Credence Clearwater Revival — Fortunate Son
14) The Who — Baba O’Reilly
15) The Allman Brothers — Midnight Rider
16) Queen — Bohemian Rhapsody
17) CREAM — Sunshine of Your Love
18) Pink Floyd — Comfortably Numb
19) Elton John — Rocketman
20) The Doors — Light My Fire
Honorable Mentions: Led Zeppelin — Over the Hills and Far Away, The Who — Emminence Front, The Mammas and the Pappas — California Dreaming
Other Songs Seriously Considered included: There were hundreds of songs considered, which we subsequently cut to a list of about 100, which was then cut to about 40 before the list was finalized. These songs included: Buffalo Springfield — For What It’s Worth, The Clash — Rock the Casbah, CCR — Born on the Bayou, Led Zeppelin — Tangerine, Pink Floyd — Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pink Floyd — Wish You Were Here, Oasis — Wonderwall, Lynyrd Skynyrd — Sweet Home Alabama, The White Stripes — 7 Nation Army, Foo Fighters — Everlong, Nirvana — Come As You Are, Nirvana — Smells Like Teen Spirit, U2 — One, The Rolling Stones — Under My Thumb, David Bowie — Space Oddity, Rush — Tom Sawyer, The Beatles — Elinor Rigby, Bruce Springsteen — Born to Run, The Allman Brothers — Whipping Post
Now go make yourself a playlist.