I’m currently moderating a group that will be listening to and discussing songs from the Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 all-time greatest songs (2021 edition), with participants choosing one song per week from the list. I’m going to use this thread to comment on the songs.
21 thoughts on “Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 All-Time Great Songs (2021)”
Here were the songs chosen in week 1:
#51 “Walk on By” (1964) Dionne Warwick (Bacharach/David)
#461 “Crying” (1962) Roy Orbison (Orbison/J.)
#313 “Tears of a Clown” (1970) Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (Robinson/S. Wonder/)
#344 “Iron Man” (1971) Black Sabbath (Black Sabbath)
#446 “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” Bruce Springsteen (B. Springsteen)
#71 “Fast Car” Tracy Chapman (T. Chapman)
Of these songs, my favorite was “Fast Car.” If I had to make a list of songs that demonstrate terrific lyrics, as well as lyrics working well with the music and the musicians, this would make the list. The lyrics are poignant, and moving. It’s rare for lyrics to have this kind of emotional impact on me.
Let me try and unpack this.
First. the song does a good job of telling the story of a young woman looking to escape, but largely failing, from an all too common plight of many lower class individuals.
Second, in rock n’ roll, I associate cars with women or sex. Here, the fast car is almost a symbol of hope, a vehicle that will allow for a quick escape. For example,
The words “fast” and “fly” sticks out for me (especially when paired with the lines in the chorus). When you’re speeding a long in a car, there is an exhilarating feeling of freedom. The language is simple but effective.
But only is there a feeling of freedom, but also of hope and the happiness of being with someone special. This comes out in the chorus:
The “arm wrapped round her shoulder” makes her feel on top of the world, that everything is looking up. Even though I never was in the protagonist’s situation, I know what all this feels like.
And the “city lights lay out before us” is also another hopeful line. The city holds promise for her. It’s where they can escape and make a new, better life.
Alas, it doesn’t work out–the boyfriend, for whatever reason, turns out to be a disappointment (seemingly repeatedly the cycle of her parents).
By the last line leaves a bit of an ominous note that I never realized:
These lines were sung earlier, but in the earlier versions the “you” is a “we.” Here, the protagonists wants the boyfriend to leave, and if he doesn’t, he may die (by her hands?).
General comments on “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”
Regarding “Walk on By,” anyone have an interpretation of the song? At first I thought it was about someone with a broken heart. After reading the lyrics, I feel like it might be someone in an illicit affair who is having trouble ending the relationship.
Man, before I saw your first comment, I thought, “One song per week is going to take ten years,” but I figured it out now.
“Walk on By.” I can’t remember this song just from the title, but it’s an appropriate mention because of Bacharach’s death. Carole King wrote a nice tribute in the Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/02/10/carole-king-burt-bacharach-songwriting) in which she mentions this song.
“Crying.” I’ve never liked this song, or any Roy Orbison song (even in the Traveling Wilburys songs I think his parts are the worst), and have just assumed that one day I’ll be mature enough a rock fan to finally get it. It still hasn’t happened.
“Tears of a Clown.” While I like and admire Smokey, many of his Miracles songs just don’t do it for me, and this is one that fifty percent of the time I might hit the “next” button on. Even though Smokey’s delivery on this is fantastic.
“Iron Man.” Still a great song but soooooooo ubiquitous that it’s dropped far down on my favorite Sabbath songs list. Well, not FAR down, but it’s a lot lower than it was.
“Rosalita.” Not one of my favorites, but definitely a song that could represent the whole Springsteen vibe. For decades, it was during performances of this song (with its very long jam) that Bruce did his long, drawn-out intro of the E Street Band members, which makes it a better song in my memory. He doesn’t perform this every night anymore and he’s introducing the band members during another song instead. I agree with the Van Morrison comparison but not the Meatloaf comparison, although I see why one might go there. Meatloaf’s a bit more melodramatic, while this song’s a lot more celebratory and less narrative.
“Fast Car.” It’s a masterpiece. There was a day in my first year of college when I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman and “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range could possibly be such popular pop songs. It still puzzles me, except that they’re just really great songs. But then I wonder how so many other great, depressing songs about the crappiness of life wouldn’t even get a spin on popular radio. I bought this album, Chapman’s debut, and it remains a favorite. There’s a song on the album called “Baby Can I Hold You” that a lot of local bands like to play at parties for some reason (Google “baby can i hold you” and in my browser, the first suggested completion is “…hawaiian” so Hawaiian covers of this song are definitely a thing). And Living Colour sometimes performs “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution,” which they did when they played here — it was a highlight because the drummer’s bass drum head needed replacing, so while the drum tech was doing it, the other members played this without drums and it was fantastic.
Is it his songs, his voice, or both? I can see people not liking his music because they dislike his voice. He has an original sound to me, and I like his voice. I also think he has good songs.
Yeah, but both sound like they’re trying to be a rousing number in a (rock n’ roll) musical.
The simple, catchy and repetitive riff (guitar picking, really)–I think that’s a big part of it. And I can see the melody appealing to a lot of people, especially the chorus.
The song is depressing, but it has a poignancy that is moving and touching.
“Baby Can I Hold You”
I didn’t realize Tracy Chapman wrote this. I wasn’t familiar with the title, but once I heard the local version, I knew it instantly. I don’t like a lot of contemporary Hawaiian music, but I kinda like this one when it came out.
It’s his song and his voice. I don’t get the legendary status people attach to either. Even Springsteen said that when he started, he wanted to write like Dylan and sing like Orbison, but he added, “Nobody sings like Orbison.” I say (at least for now) thank goodness for that.
The acoustic guitar line in “Fast Car” has been sampled in rap songs, so I guess there’s something to that. I’m glad contemporary folk had its pop moment in the late 80s because it may have been the last time. Although there was that remix of “Tom’s Diner” in the 90s with the the techno beat beneath it. I wonder if that counts.
I can see why you, and others, find Orbison’s voice unappealing. It also doesn’t really seem like a great fit for rock n’ roll. But it’s original though, and I think that’s a reason he’s highly regarded, especially for people who enjoy his voice. (Think of someone like Willie Nelson or Gabby Pahinui.)
I tend to think it does. I feel like there were more folk or folk-ish hits. When did “Closer to Fine” come out?
1989. And it was not a hit except on college radio.
“In My Life”–The Beatles
Good song. What stood out to me was Ringo’s “lopsided” drumming, which I thought was interesting, but not really appropriate. I still prefer John and Randy’s version, with “For No One” added to it.
“Mr. Tambourine Man”–Bob Dylan
I don’t care for this song, and it could be one of the lowest ratings I’ve ever given for a song in our discussion.
“Never Too Much”–Luther Vandross
Solid song. I like the groove and overall music on this.
“American Tune”–Paul Simon
“What a Wonderful World”–Louis Armstrong
This is an improbably successful song for me. I would call a good song, but I feel like I’m making a mistake when I say this. I mean, the lyrics and music sound a bit hokey, but it works. It’s not a song I’d listen to a lot, but I think it’s a solid song.
A really good party song. I never noticed the allusions to nuclear war.
“Whipping Post”–The Allman Brothers
Solid song. I was a little disappointed by the jamming on this.
“Poncho and Lefty”–Emmylou Harris
This was a big surprise. I loved this song, and I loved Harris’s singing on this. I’ve heard Harris before, and her singing never grabbed me. She really impressed me here (so much so that I listened to the entire album).
“In My Life” is a great song. For me it’s the wistful melody. Where it goes up on “there are places I re-MEM-ber…” is so perfect.
“Mr. Tambourine Man” took me a while to get into, although the first time I heard it in intermediate school I liked it a LOT better than the Byrds’ version, which was a hit before Dylan’s version was a hit. I don’t know if it’s in my top 10 Dylan songs, but it’s in my top 30. A very nice song.
I’ve been chatting online with a friend I know from NaNoWriMo. She’s a bit younger (like 12 years) so it surprised me when we somehow got on Paul Simon as a lyricist and she was far more versed (heh) in his songs than I was. When we got onto “American Tune,” she said she could tell already it would be among my favorites because of its bittersweet how-did-we-get-here vibe. She was right, of course. Because a rock feels no pain and an island never cries.
It’s always been my impression that you don’t get the popularity of Louis Armstrong as a jazz musician. This song is great but if I never hear it again I’ll be totally fine.
“1999” is fine. I don’t think it belongs on this list.
“Whipping Post” is a solid song but I would probably rank 30 songs above it on my favorite Allman Brothers Band songs list, and I don’t even know 30 Allman Brothers Band songs.
I liked that descriptor for the song.
Or the respect among jazz musicians. I haven’t heard a lot of Armstrong’s playing, but every time I’ve tried, I come away feeling underwhelmed.
I have a hard time calling the song great, but I agree with your last sentiment.
One argument I’d use in it’s defense is that it’s a great party song.
“Ace of Spades”–Motorhead
More than Led Zep or Black Sabbath, I hear heavy metal in this, particularly in the rhythms of the riffs. It’s a solid song, and I kinda like the solo, but this isn’t a song I would find myself returning to.
“Rock With You”–Michael Jackson
Skating to this song at skateland–what a feeling. I don’t know the correct definition of “slow jam,” but I think of it as romantic songs that initially might tempt one to play for a slow dance, but are ultimately too fast for that. Perhaps no one would think of slow dancing to this song, but I thought of it as one of the original and best slow jams. Still love it after all these years.
Also, I think like many songs on Off the Wall and Thriller this is as much a Quincy Jones creation as a Michael Jackson one. There’s a lot a ton of things going on with the instrumentation and arrangement.
Maybe not a great song, but I really like it. Interestingly, I mostly ignore this song when it first came out.
“Summertime Blues”–Eddie Cochoran
Solid rock n’ roll song. Cochoran’s vocals really stand out for me. I want to check out more of his stuff.
“Purple Haze”–Jimi Hendrix Experience
Really good song in spite of the vocals, which I don’t really care for (although I guess his vocals fit the song). I love Mitch Mitchell’s drumming on this.
“Whole Lotta Love”–Led Zeppelin
Solid song, and maybe I’m not praising it more because I’m a little jaded of it.
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)”–Eurythmics
Catchy simple riffs are often a key to a great pop song. Milking these riffs is also a good approach. Perhaps, some may snear at these comments, but I would disagree with that sentiment. If the riffs are good, I think the approach is fine, if not good.
The drums and synths drive this music, and the chorus (There’s no verses, right?) is also very catchy. There’s almost a meditative, mantra-ish quality to this.
I haven’t read any analysis of the song, but it feels like a critique of 80’s materialism, Gordon Gecko capitalism.
“Electric Boogie”–Marcia Griffiths
This was a bonus song chosen by a participant. I’ve heard this a zillion times, in the context of summer fun or senior citizens’ activity. It was interesting to listen to this outside that context, and judge this simply as a song, not as a dance.
I think it’s actually a solid song. I would enjoy it more if I hadn’t heard it so often.
“Ace of Spades” is one of those songs walking the line between hard rock and metal, but that was Motörhead’s whole vibe. Lemmy (like a lot of musicians) resisted labels and said they were just a rock and roll band.
It’s a classic. It’s great. It’s on my shortlist of songs I want played at my funeral. If I ever get married, I will promise my bride anything if she’ll let this be the music we walk away from the altar to. Or at least this is today’s choice. Other days it’s been Alice Cooper, the Cars, and Led Zep.
Comments sections usually suck, but they’re great on this video. Two of my faves:
This is a performance of the song with Slash on guitar and Dave Grohl on drums. Same sentiment (but far less intense) as the Al Green video. Now it’s not just the song, it’s about the song, and it’s about the musicians and their careers.
Oh yeah, and I love this. The lyric is “You know I’m born to lose, but gambling is for fools. But that’s the way I like it babe; I don’t want to live forever!” but he adds right before the guitar solo, “…but apparently I am!”
Part of me is surprised you don’t get into it — the part of me that knows you dig AC/DC and all its rawness and lack of pretension. Part of me is not surprised at all — the part of me that’s surprised you dig AC/DC at all. 🙂
“Rock with You” is a good song and I have a lot of the same memories, and I actually think this could go on your Yacht Rock playlist. It gives me the ickies though and I’ve stopped trying to be consistent about these things.
TLC is actually one of the groups of this genre I kind of like, and I dig “No Scrubs,” although I’m not sure I’d put it on this list.
“Summertime Blues.” One of those songs whose covers make the original more interesting. The authoritative cover for me, of course, is Blue Cheer’s, since many point to Blue Cheer as one of metal’s early practitioners. I also dig covers by the Who and Rush.
Mitch Mitchell’s drumming on “Purple Haze” is amazeballs. As are Jimi’s vocals. The whole song is just wonderful. My intro to Jimi, as I guess it is for many people. I’m guessing (I haven’t looked at the list yet because it’s going to take a huge chunk out of whatever day I do look at it) it’s the second-highest Jimi song on the list after “All Along the Watchtower.” My favorite is “Dolly Dagger,” by the way. 🙂
I know what you mean about “Whole Lotta Love,” but it’s good to listen with fresh ears every so often. The critics seems to have this as Led Zep’s greatest song, but I suspect they’re feeling what you feel about “Whole Lotta Love” aimed at “Stairway to Heaven,” which is only (and still) the greatest rock and roll song of all time. Definitely a song whose greatness cannot be denied.
As with most people our age, the first time I heard “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” was on MTV. I hadn’t really come to grips with non-ironic androgyny and therefore didn’t know what to make of this song. Stripped of visual context, though, on the radio, I kind of dug it although I found the synths annoying.
But you’re right about the riff. When Eurythmics performed on Arsenio Hall, Dave Stewart had an acoustic guitar during the interview. I think he, Annie Lennox, and Arsenio sat on stools on stage, rather than on the chairs-and-couch set. I don’t remember how they got on the topic, but Stewart said something about if the songs don’t work acoustically, they aren’t good enough for a Eurythmics record. Then he played the “Sweet Dreams” riff on his acoustic, and Annie sang the first verse, and it was GREAT. And it taught me a new way to think about songs, minus their production and even instrumentation. Doesn’t hurt that Annie Lennox can probably sell any song, with that voice of hers.
I listened to the version with Slash and Grohl. My reaction to the song is still the same. I can’t really put my finger on why I don’t enjoy it more. Comparing it to AC/DC, I would say three things: 1) Lemmy’s vocals are just OK, at best to me; 2) rhythmically, the song is closer to metal than hard rock, and I’m not keen on the former; 3) the song is not as a catchy as AC/DC’s songs.
Huh. Why is that?
By the way, I found this instrumental version by a Louie Shelton that I really enjoyed:
For me, choosing 500 all-time great songs would be really difficult. I don’t know if I’ve listened to enough songs to do this properly. Given that limitation, while I would not immediately say “No Scrubs” is a great song, it might make the bottom third of my list.
I should check those out, as well as check out the Blue Cheer version again. I think I preferred Cochoran’s.
Yeah that’s a good guess. I don’t think I know “Dolly Dagger,” not by the title anyway.
What’s the rationale behind this for you? I don’t know if I’d choose this as the greatest song, if I could even pick one song. But when thinking of great songs, I tend to lean towards songs that are suite-like–i.e., two or more songs mashed into one; or songs that evolve in dramatic ways. Is that a good basis for choosing the song? I’m not sure it is.
Right now, I’m wondering if I should lean more towards a song that better captures the essence of rock and rock–while also being a good song in terms of the composition and performance. Off the top of my head, something like The Kinks “You Really Got Me” comes to mind.
That would be interesting to hear.
I take this to mean that the song has to song good stripped down, with just acoustic guitar or piano accompaniment. And I guess that essentially means the basic components of the composition–the melody, chord changes, and rhythm sound great. If so that makes sense. Off the top of my head, I’d say a really good song would sound good with just vocals and simple accompaniment.
This is a cool song, made much cooler by the fact that Mariano Rivera came into to this song.
“Johnny B. Goode”–Chuck Berry
If someone asked me what is rock n’ roll, this is the song I might choose in response–especially for old school rock n’ roll. The sound of rock n’ roll.
I like the acoustic guitar, and the Ray Davies’s voice and singing just seems perfect for this song. It’s a good song, and I also find it hilarious.
“California Dreamin'”–the Mamas and the Papas
I really like this song. I like the call and response, and the melody, the idea of missing one’s warm home state.
“Ripple”–the Grateful Dead
I like the lyrics on this.
“Wish You Were Here”–Pink Floyd
I think the lyrics are interesting, but I thought it was OK, but not much more than that.
“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”–The Shirelles
I think the melody and lyrics are really good. The groove and tempo for this don’t really fit the song, though.
“Desafinado”–Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto
I like the song, but I prefer other versions.
“Let’s Stay Together”–Al Green
I liked this song growing up, but never thought it was a great song. When I heard this covered by a local group, it sounded better than I remembered. Listening to this again, I think it was good, but less than I expected.
“Good Golly Miss Molly”–Little Richard
The song is just OK, in my opinion, but Little Richard has one of the all-time great rock n’ roll voices in my opinion.
“I Only Have Eyes for You”–The Flamingos
A bit cheesy, but I remember liking this song as a kid. A good, slow dance song.
“Space Oddity”–David Bowie
Interesting, and a decent song, but not something I love.
“bad guy”–Billie Eilish
I liked this when I first heard it. It has that stripped down feel like the Eurthymics’s “Sweet Dreams.” I’m not sure this one will stand the test of time, though.
“Won’t Get Fooled”–The Who
OK, but doesn’t really grab me for some reason.
“Ain’t Nobody”–Chaka Khan
“Ue Wo Muite Arukoo” (Sukiyaki)–Kyu Sakamoto
Good Japanese folk-y tune, but I’m not crazy about Sakamoto’s singing.
In January 1995, my last semester at UH Hilo, Al Green was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which I don’t care about) and performed the next evening on the Late Show with David Letterman (which I do care about). Before that evening, I was casually familiar with Al Green but couldn’t have named any of his songs or told you much about him except he was a soul musician and he’d recorded some gospel albums.
But then this performance.
It honestly changed everything about the way I think about soul music and about music of the 70s. I ran out and bought his greatest hits CD the next week.
I understand this performance is not the recording you listened to. This is definitely a different creature while being the same song. The original version is all sultriness and seduction and smoothness. This performance is about a man summing up his whole career in one three-minute performance, and an audience celebrating it with him. The way he spins around, jumps up and down, raises his hands, and speaks to the audience is just a beautiful, amazing thing. I’ve thought similarly when I hear other bands play their signature tunes long after they were radio hits: the Rolling Stones playing “Satisfaction” and Rick Derringer playing “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” (which I got to see in person). These days, it’s not the same song. It’s a symbol, and the performance is an expression of something different.
And when people (like Barack Obama) sing it publicly, they’re doing more than singing just this song. They’re participating in a weird tradition of bringing people back to some meaningful moment when this song did something to them, like Al Green is doing in this Letterman performance. Dang, I love this song. It really is one of the best song rock and roll songs of all time.
When I first started teaching, I had this plan. When I decided I knew everything about rock and roll I needed to know, I was going to switch obsessions and go into 70s soul music. I naively thought this day could come. I even had a little list of musicians I was going to start with: Al Green, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.
I may never get around to it because there’s just too much good rock and roll to know about, but I did spend some time with these three musicians, just getting to know the songs I should know, and it’s increased my appreciation (for as much as I think “Let’s Stay Together” is one of the greatest, I easily moved “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” ahead of it). And it’s all because of Al Green, and it all started with this performance in 1995.
I watched the video again this morning before I posted this, and it had me in tears of happiness. These days, tears of happiness are almost a foreign concept, but this video does it to me.
If you watch it, the second half of the video is worth sticking around for. Whoever posted it had access to the music Al Green sang while the show was in the commercial break, and then Letterman comes on and gets a bit effusive. He felt what I felt. I think everyone in the building felt that too.
Yes, I really think you’re on to something, or at least I know what you mean, and I believe this explains why I may have reacted more positively to a live performance by a cover band (although I do think a sultry female singer might be more effective singing this song).
But I also think Green sings with more passion and ebullience in the live version above–and that makes it very appealing.
Wow! That really surprises me. Have you heard the original recently? I’d be curious to hear how you like that version.
Before re-listening to the original, I would have sympathized with your enthusiasm, but listening to the original disappointed me–and I’m not exactly sure why.
I hear the original at least once a month, I’d say. It’s fun to sing in the car, and sometimes I ask Siri to play it on my drive home from the office.
“Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad…”
For some reason, my enthusiasm for this song has diminished. It might be just a mood thing, but I thought I liked this song a lot. I still like it, but not as much as I thought.
I also thought I had a decent understanding of the lyrics, but after looking at them recently, I’m not so sure.
“Wichita Lineman”–Glen Campbell
I like this song, particularly the melody.
“A Whiter Shade of Pale”–Procol Harum
I knew the song, but not the title or the group. For me, The Big Chill really colored my experience of the song. I mostly associate this with nostalgia, specifically hanging out with old friends in a comfortable house, reminiscing about the past, and even what could have been.
“Louie Louie”–The Kingsman
I find this song annoying, and I gave it a relatively low score. But the riff might warrant a higher score. In our discussion, I jokingly referred to this as the “Sususudio” of its time. A few of the participants mentioned this was a popular dance song when it came out. That made me thing of Ready for the World’s “Oh Sheila”–which was super repetitious, but appealing dance song. (I’d guess it would be un-listenable to me now.)
“I Will Survive”–Gloria Gaynor
I don’t really care for the music, but the fact that it’s a female empowerment song is a pretty cool thing.
“Because the Night”–Patti Smith Group
I thought I liked the 10,000 Maniacs version the best, but I found a live version with Springsteen and Smith singing with U2 that I might like more.
This rocks! Interestingly, when I say this I usually mean this in a “punch-you-in-the-face” way, but that’s not the case here. I’m referring more to passion than aggression. The feeling here is what suits the song, and the feeling is not really there on the original or in the 10,000 Maniacs version–not to the same intensity anyway. (Here’s another song with that Bruce Springsteen drama thing. It’s something that can be over-the-top cheesy, but I think Springsteen avoids this, including in this song.)
Love the piano intro. I love the title and the way the line is used. I also like the line and music of “they can’t touch you now, can’t touch you now, can’t touch you now.” Who’s “they?” I take that to mean the people that did or can hurt you…or something like that. In that moment, that the song is about, the couple is in a place safe or away from those people. I don’t know, I like that.
“Little Wing”–Jimi Hendrix
This might be one of my favorite Hendrix songs, but I didn’t care for this version so much.
Bonus: “Why Does Love Have to be so Sad“–Derek and the Dominos
I really liked the bass and drums on this.
I Want You Back (The Jackson 5)
Michael Jackson’s vocals, as a young boy, was fantastic: pure and powerful. I think I would include it among the all-time great voices. I like the rhythm section on this, but the composition is just OK. One of the participants mentioned that the song was described as “bubble gum soul.” That’s a pretty good description.
Sympathy for the Devil (The Rolling Stones)
This particular track came from a live recording–Get Your Ya-ya’s Out (or something like that). I just thought the song was OK, but the two guitar solos were solid.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (The Rolling Stones)
Even when I didn’t like the Stones very much, I liked this song. If I had to pick the top 20 all-time great rock n’ roll songs, this would be a contender.
Cissy Strut (The Meters)
When I first heard this song, I believe I was listening to organ-guitar trios, in that funk-jazz vein. I heard good things about the Meters, but when I heard this cut, I was disappointed. To me, it seems too flat and repetitive.
Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday)
Perfect merging of vocals and lyrics. Holiday has a sound as her voice went through years of grueling punishment. The lyrics are good as well. The last word of the song–“crop”–caught me off guard. To me, it suggests the lynchings were common as if blacks were harvested in this grotesque, horrible way.
Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
Normally, I like raspy vocals. Stewart is an exception. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t care for his voice or singing. I also don’t really like this song for some reason. I don’t think it’s a bad song, I just don’t care for it.
Paint it Black (The Rolling Stones)
Not crazy about the music, but the lyrics stand out to me. It’s one of those rock n’ roll songs that’s great when you feel bitter, angry, and/or sad–and you need a song for those moments. (Another: “I am a Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel.)
Pick Up the Pieces (Average White Band)
Now we’re talking. I like this so much better than “Cissy Strut.” This one has a harder groove. I like the hooks on this as well.
I like this song. It rocks, and it gives voice to those who feel on the outside. I feel like it’s a song for someone like Travis Bickle.
LIght My Fire (The Doors)
The lyrics, music, and Morrison’s singing all work well together.
I love the explanation of the Doors created the song:
I also like Jose Feliciano singing this song
White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
One of the participants said that any movie about Vietnam has this song, and I had the same thought. In any event, I like the song quite a bit. I liked the marching snare drum. One of the participants said that Grace Slick listened to Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain, and another participant immediately saw the connection with the snare drum. (I had forgotten about the track below.)
This is stripped down song, and Slick’s vocals are almost spoken. One participant didn’t care for this aspect, but I liked it. What are some other songs like this?
Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” (and that has that marching band snare thing going as well)
Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight”
People Get Ready (The Impressions; composed and written by Curtis Mayfield)
Nobody’s Fault But Mine(Led Zeppelin; originally by Blind Willie Johnson)
I like the sound of Page’s guitar on this, and when John Bonham comes in, it’s glorious.
Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye)
This was my pick. I had trouble finding a song, and I gave up and chose this. (I almost chose one of the two songs by Biggie Smalls that made the list.) But when I listened to this more closely, I loved it. What I really love, besides Gaye’s vocals, is the drum machine and synth. It’s an 80’s sound, but all of it sounds great. This is a way better song than I originally thought, although I always like it.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whiney Houston)
I don’t love this song, but it has a lot of nostalgia for me. I like it’s exuberance, especially on the chorus, but this is not a song I return to. Also, ironically, I don’t think it’s a great song to dance to.
Bonus song: Naila (Lila Downs)
A Latin song. I enjoyed both the song and singing on this.