January 10, 2005

Music List

Chan and Don are doing it, so I might as well throw my hat in the ring, too, on the top-ten greatest rock/pop songs of all time. I toyed with the idea of listing my 10 subjective favorites and then offering an objective list, but soon realized the "objective" list would be nothing more than a lawyered-up subjective list with appeals to authority.

Without further ado, and in order of preference:

1. The Ocean, Led Zeppelin (Houses of the Holy). Most such lists include Stairway to Heaven, but this song completely blows just about every other Zeppelin song away. Killer riff rock with a nod to doo-wop at the end. How much better can rock get?

2. Tom Sawyer, Rush (Moving Pictures). A defining moment: the 70s are over. Welcome to the 80s. Searing synthesizer filter-sweep destined for future sampling. Great lines: "Though his mind is not for rent/To any god or government/Always hopeful yet discontent/He knows changes aren't permanent/But change is."

3. Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix (Are You Experienced?). Like "The Ocean," the opening riff of this song is simply legendary.

4. A Day in the Life, The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). Incredible orchestration for a pop song. The E-chord on the three grand pianos at the end is but the cherry on this mega-ice-cream sundae.

5. South Side of the Sky, Yes (Fragile). This song doesn't merely kick in after the soft, melodic interlude -- it kicks ass.

6. Tarkus, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (Tarkus). The apotheosis of prog rock. The best version of this is the live one on Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends, Ladies and Gentlemen... A 20-minute-long SF-flavored epic with killer keyboards and drums.

7. Nights in White Satin, The Moody Blues (Days of Future Passed). Was ever a better make-out song written?

8. Back in Black, AC/DC (Back in Black). No comment necessary. Really.

9. Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty (City to City). Everyone knows the sax riff, and I bet most everyone plays "air guitar" during the sweet guitar solo.

10. Plush, Stone Temple Pilots (Core). One test of a great rock song is how good it sounds "unplugged." This song passes that test, and nicely represents the sound of the early 90s.

Update: This meme originated (this time around, at least) with Norman Geras, whom both Chan and Don cited. Submit your choices to Norman by January 16.

Posted by JohnL at January 10, 2005 10:35 PM

Good list overall. By the way, although I do answer to several names, "Dan" isn't one of them.

Posted by: Don at January 11, 2005 01:09 PM

Don, I'm sorry about that! I've fixed the spelling.

Posted by: JohnL at January 11, 2005 01:16 PM
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