No one can debate that Stairway to Heaven is one of the greatest songs ever. You also have Rolling Stone magazine to critique music officially – but this is about how songs resonated with me. I love lists, so here’s my top songs of all time (classic rock)….for me. Something else to note – I am not the linguist with music many of you are. Meaning, sometimes I don’t know many of the words to my favorite songs. For me, it’s the melodies/harmonies of the musical instruments. For instance – I can’t tell you more than 10 words in Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum, but I can tell you that keyboardist at the beginning is magical. Also of note, I could have loaded this list with a few bands only, so I’m only trying to add my favorite from each band in this list (try).
Lastly…I felt I couldn’t rank these accurately, so they are rated by type (rock, slow, interesting) and in no particular order.
I feel like for the most part, the era of 1967-1973 or so is the greatest era of any for music. One can also throw in a Mozart reference or two, I get it. But this was a time of change, of revolution, of drug experimentation….
What made this era so special?
- Rock and roll – it kicked it up from bubble gum shit of the early 60s and late 50’s. Music progressed with the rock/roll in 4/4
- Ingenuity – there’s a lot of different styles of music listed below, some using orchestral backgrounds, electric guitars, synthesizers…it was a time of trying a lot of new shit.
- Melodies – there are truly a lot of unique melodies that stick out. When you see any of the items below…don’t you get a 2 second snippet in your head that is unforgettable?
Rock your ass off….
- Rebel Yell – Billy Idol. You need this in your workout playlist
- Almost anything Led Zeppelin does. Most fall under WSoP rule above.
- Me and Bobby McGee – falls under the WSoP rule. Just fucking rocking.
- All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix.
- Paint it Black – Rolling Stones. WSoP rule. Song just moves.
- Helter Skelter – Beatles. They have 28 number one hits. Here’s my Beatles Entry.
- Revolution – Beatles.
- Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf.
- One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer – George Thorogood.
- Iron Man – Black Sabbath
Slow it down….
- Tuesday’s Gone – Lynyrd Skynyrd. Depressing song, but damn it’s powerful.
- Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd. This song just makes you want to call up an old buddy or family member.
- 25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago. I grew up with their 80’s schmaltz which I loved, but this song in the wayback machine moves.
- Landslide – Fleetwood Mac. Never had a number one hit, but this song is probably how most people know Stevie Nicks.
- Bell Bottom Blues – Derek and the Dominoes. NEVER heard this song before satellite radio a few years back. Loved it. Then looked it up and realized it was Clapton. Go figure.
- Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce. Want to feel sappy instantly?
- Melancholy Man – Moody Blues. Just heard this the other day for he first time in 30 years. Wow, song was powerful. Nights in White Satin can be in this slot as well, but the melody of melancholy man edges this out just because of how powerful it is. I lost a very close friend in high school to suicide awhile back, and while the Moody Blues are lyrical geniuses, this line is particularly interesting “His life caught up in misery, he doesn’t think like you and me,
‘Cause he can’t see what you and I can see.” Just. Whoa. Waterworks please.
- Winter Time – Steve Miller Band. While mostly known for The Joker, this is a mood piece which can take you to a place…the song just feels “cold”. I feel like I’m at a cottage in the middle of nowhere, it’s getting dark, and a blizzard is setting in – gives you feelings of isolation, darkness…
- Turn the Page – Seger. Never heard this song until college and karaoke. Became an instant favorite.
- Imagine – John Lennon. Soft…touching.
- Just the Way You Are/She’s Always a woman – Billy Joel. Gorgeous songs.
- Hotel California – Eagles. Guitar in that melody is sick. Lyrics are perfectly genius. Every single word in it is expertly used
- On the Turning Away – Pink Floyd. Loved the music, but was in college before someone told me it was about homelessness. Listened to it again. Whoa. Made me tear up. “Don’t accept that’s what’s happening is a just a case of others’ suffering, Or you’ll find that you’re joining in…in the turning away”.
- Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin. Can’t have any list about classic rock without this.
- With a little help from my friends – Joe Cocker. Whoa.
- Space Oddity – David Bowie. Just an interesting feel to this song. Suspense builds with the countdown, and the melody releases to just a beautiful crescendo – “This is Ground Control to Major Tom” – the lyrics are good, but wow, the release of the tension in the song is epic.
- Son of a Preacher Man – Joplin. The very beginning sounds like one of our favorite 90s stoner bands sampled it. Very “cool” feel to it. Used in Pulp Fiction, one of my favorite movies of all time – that one is Aretha Franklin though. I like Joplin’s cover better.
- Life’s Been Good – Joe Walsh. Was in one of my earliest mix tapes and this song was a lot of fun. At the time of getting the mix tape, had no idea he was part of the Eagles.
- Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum. Song feels of heartache and struggle…lots of suspense with this one….great use of organ melody at beginning.
- Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen. A lot of weird shit in this, but many songs in one.
- Riders on the Storm – my dad must have played this 800 times, and the only Doors song he seemed to like.
- Your Song – Elton John. I didn’t really know this song much before Moulin Rouge, but Elton John songs are sort of in a genre all by themselves.
- Golden Slumbers – Paul McCartney. I kind of like “opus” songs, where this is sort of three different songs in one.
- Scenes from an Italian Restaurant – Billy Joel. This kind of tells a story and has a few songs in one.
- Aqualung – Jethro Tull. No idea what this song is, but falls under the WSoP rule.
- Telephone – ELO. ELO was sort of a genre all in their own, maybe throw STYX into this as well.
- White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane. This almost defines interesting in the music category. Some psychedelic key signature and creepy feel…the snare drums.
Favorite classic rock bands of all time…(in no particular order)
- Led Zeppelin
- Steve Miller Band
- Any band with Eric Clapton (Cream, Derek and the Dominoes, solo)
- Billy Joel/Elton John…these guys are sort of in a class by themselves
- Moody Blues
- Pink Floyd