Monthly Archives: May 2009

Introduction to Top 25

May 31st, 2009|

            The first step in naming the Top 25 Songs of the Rock Era, which happens to coincide with my personal music-listening era, is determining the criteria for a “Top” song.

            Obviously, the criterion is not best-selling, or most-played, or even most-requested. If you rank songs by how many weeks they were #1 on the […]

1. My Girl, The Temptations

May 31st, 2009|

            Perhaps the most effective, evocative three-note opening sequence in rock creates an aura of anticipation so utterly fulfilled when the guitar starts ascending and the voice comes in, “I’ve got sunshine…..on a cloudy day.” What a sunny, upbeat, mood-improving song! It’s hard, nay, impossible, not to smile any and every time I hear this […]

2. Brown-Eyed Girl, Van Morrison

May 31st, 2009|

            “Hey, wherever we go,” you’re pretty much assured of hearing this classic. It’s totally infectious, whether you’re singing along on the car radio or bopping on the dance floor: “We used to sing – sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-di-la-di-da.” I’m generally not big on lyrics, but that’s one I can remember. The key words for me in this […]

3. Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin

May 31st, 2009|

This is the song that defined how I define this list. It was in the mid-70s, driving back with the guys from touch football, and we reached my apartment on West End and 77th maybe two minutes into Stairway to Heaven. I can’t just leave in the middle of this song, I said; the other […]

4. Earth Angel, The Penguins

May 31st, 2009|

            Ooo-oo-oo-oo, waa-aa-aa, ooo-oo-oo-oo is just one of the hundreds of memorable doo-wop sounds that instantly identify a favorite oldie to any music lover growing up in the ‘50s. There are probably 20 such songs I could live with on this list (see sidebar, below), but none surpasses Earth Angel for its combination of general […]

5. Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan

May 31st, 2009|

            As rock royalty goes, there’s Elvis and the Beatles, and then comes Bob Dylan, not far behind. He’s their match in terms of being a spokesman for a generation, and when it comes to songwriting, he’s the best. But for purposes of this list, what matters is he has one song that is absolutely […]

6. Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett

May 31st, 2009|

            Ah, the introduction of a personal idiosyncrasy into the list, or is it? By any numerical measure – concert grosses, records sold, longevity – Jimmy Buffett can hold his own in the rock pantheon. But is he too much fun to be taken this seriously? Nah, who says rock can’t be fun. And certainly, […]

7. Imagine, John Lennon

May 31st, 2009|

You can consider this the coda to “The Sixties” (it came out in 1971), or you can consider it timeless, perhaps depending upon whether you are a realist or a hopeless optimist (there’s a trick of the English language Lennon might have appreciated). As for me, this is the final song I want played at […]

8. Maggie May, Rod Stewart

May 31st, 2009|

Rod Stewart was the greatest rock vocalist of his time – perhaps of all time, a uniquely hoarse sound that carried its own urgency – and this is the song that introduced his greatness to us.  But first there are those opening drum shots, a kickstart whenever I hear them, that make me sit up […]

9. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band

May 31st, 2009|

The best thing I ever heard about New Jersey was when they made this the official State song. I don’t know if it still is, and I don’t think “the Boss” lives in Jersey anymore, but the grungy image of that state, deserved or not, is the perfect petri dish for the characters and sounds […]