Entries by Bob Marshall

1. My Girl, The Temptations

            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

            “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

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

            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

            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

            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

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

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

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 […]

10. A Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum

1967 brought us psychedelia and an era of self-importance based on discovering and distributing inner truth to society, aided by drugs, pop literature and the trance-creating music of groups like Procol Harum. For self-importance, why not a majestic name from Latin meaning, significantly, “beyond these things.” And a Zen-like title that sounds profound but has […]