Skip to main content

The Greatest Songs


The Greatest Songs

I've talked about many of the prominent and enduring songs in my past posts, some are on the lists of the 'Greatest Songs'. Last week I posted the list of singles from Acclaimed Music. I like Acclaimed because they take all the top lists, sales and other factors into consideration. To expand a bit on the list; Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" sits at number one. The song is also #1 on Rolling Stone Magazines list of the 500 Greatest Song of all time and tops Billboard Magazine's list as well. So, there seems to be consensus although some other well know lists like VH1 put it at #4 and Consequence of Sound (COS) has it at #3.
When Dylan wrote "Like a Rolling Stone" he was exhausted having just returned home from a rather taxing tour schedule in mid June of 1965. The song hit the top 10 of most charts, but the only #1 ranking was from CashBox. Covered first in 1965 by 'The Soup Greens' a Garage Band from NYC and since then another 120 times. The versions that stood out for me while perusing the list were; The Turtles (1965), Cher (1966), Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs (1968), Jimi Hendrix (1970), Mick Ronson with David Bowie (1994),  Bachman Cummings (2007), Green Day (2009) and more recently the Australian couple Jess & Matt (2018).


Number 2 on the Acclaimed list is  Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". It lands at #9 on Rolling Stones and Billboard's lists, while COS puts it #11 and VH1 #41. This is the band's biggest hit at #1 on the US Alternative Songs list and #6 on Billboard's Hot 100, as well as number one spots and top ten's around the world. Released in 1991 from the Album 'Nevermind'. Written by Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl it was not expected to be a big hit by the band and in fact they took it out of the song rotation while on tour. Covered first by Tori Amos in 1992. Of the some 120 plus covers most are not very good and plenty of odd ones too; Willie Nelson (2001), Paul Anka (2005), The Muppet Barbershop Quartet (2011) hey I don't make this stuff up! And to get even more strange, from the movie 'Pan'.


Number 3 was The Beatles "A Day in the Life". Written primarily by John Lennon with McCartney adding significantly to the middle part, it was included on the admitted drug induced haze of the whole 1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Plenty of real life references and newspaper headline inspirations in this song including the car accident that killed the 21 year old heir to the Guinness fortune, Tara Browne. This song is listed at #26 on Rolling Stone Magazine and BillBoard, #20 on VH1 and #5 on COS. Covered over 100 times; Gabor Szabo and The California Dreamers (1967), Lighthouse (1971), The Bee Gees (1978) and Chris Cornell (2016).


At number 4 is The Beach Boys, "Good Vibrations", as was most all of their music, composed by Brian Wilson and lyrics written by Mike Love. A considerable amount of studio time was used as well as a variety of musicians and instruments to produce this unique piece. Other top list appearances include; Rolling Stone Magazine and Billboard at #6, VH1 at #8 and COS put "God Only Knows" as their number one song and Good Vibrations at #47. Covered over 70 times including; The Cowsills (1969), Hugo Montenegro, His Orchestra and Chorus (1969), a One Man Band version from the very talented Todd Rundgren (1976) and The Flaming Lips from a live concert (2015).


Number 5 is "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" (1965) by the Rolling Stones, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The music and famous guitar riff was created by Richards while he was sleeping, apparently he recorded it and was surprised to discover it in the morning, I of course believe this story and think drugs had nothing to do with it... Regardless it's a brilliant song, great lyrics by Jagger and a huge international hit topping charts in the US, UK, Germany, South Africa and others. Covered over 270 times, the first was Otis Redding who didn't know most of the lyrics so he just made up some of his own (1965). Other notable versions by Mary Wells (1966), Aretha Franklin (1967), José Feliciano (1970), Jimi Hendrix (1970) and Devo (1977).

References: https://secondhandsongs.com/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page images: rollingstone.com, npr.com, bobdylan.com

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it's not tracking in terms of anyone's identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!















Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Music Myths and other Silly Things

Music Myths and other Silly Things

Who doesn't like a good story? There are many great ones and some not so much about music. I try and put a little story into my blogs and during the course of my research I have run across some that are quite curious. Some of these myths about songs and artists have innocent enough beginnings and been perpetuated or at least not denied by the artists themselves, others come from malcontents and the misinformed.



Here is one that falls in the category of a silly thing; Bob Dylan and the 'Stealers Wheel' song "Stuck in the Middle with You", released in April, 1973.

1. Bob Dylan did not write this nor did he sing this song, nor is this song about Bob Dylan.

2. If you do a search for 'Dylan and Stuck in the Middle" you will get results like the following:
Home » Artists » Bob Dylan » Stuck In The Middle With YouBob Dylan - "Stuck In The Middle With You" lyricsBob Dylan: CD's Sheet Music Tablature, Stuck in the …

Rock artists sing the Blues

Rock artists sing the Blues

I have talked about this frequently throughout my posts but more particularly in the series on the Delta Blues and the History of R&R parts 1-4. Truth be told, most of the greatests 'Rock' artists owe much of their inspiration to the Blues. Rock bands and solo artists have cut many sides early and throughout their careers of blues songs. Thanks to artists like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley who were obviously very well known and successful, their covers of some of the great blues songs served as a conduit and exposed them to artists and listeners alike. Here are some 'Blues' that inspired Rock artists, a few of these songs are more well known than others.


Confessin' the Blues by The Rolling Stones was recorded  June 11, 1964 and released on a 7" record of five songs on August 14. Written by Walter Brown (vocals) and Jay McShann (piano and bandleader) originally released in June of 1941. Covered about 35 times including Chuck Berr…

Sweet Soul Music

Sweet Soul Music

Arthur Conley co-wrote this song with Otis Redding and it's a tribute to some of the early greats of Soul Music. The song's melody (and words for that matter) borrowed heavily from the Sam Cooke song "Yeah Man" and a subsequent lawsuit brought by A.W. Alexander who managed Cooke's songs after his untimely death added his name to the song credits. The resulting song however was a huge hit for Conley and it reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B Chart in 1967 and #7 in the UK where Soul Music was gaining popularity particularly amongst a subset of British youth. The lyrics reference the co-writer Otis Redding, James Brown and songs by The Miracles, Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett, some of the key figures in early Soul Music. "Sweet Soul Music" covered 30 times, The Jam (1977).

Soul music is a fusion of R&B, Gospel and Jazz. Know generally for it's more upbeat tempo it's fun to listen to and great for d…

One Hit Wonders (not!)

One Hit Wonders (not!)

Yesterday (Sept. 26) was the 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road, the Beatles last recording session together and the second last album before Let it Be was issued May 8, 1970. And also Happy belated One Hit Wonder Day! (Sept. 25th) so I thought it would make a good blog topic.


The simplest definition I found is from music journalist Wayne Jancik "an act that has won a position on a national, pop, Top 40 record chart just once." This from the 'The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders' (1998). So we aren't talking one #1 hit. It's not a term I like as it implies (and some truth to that) these artists have had just a brief moment in the spotlight, perhaps undeservedly so and then fallen off the music map. I know other and deeper definitions are a bit more broad and go beyond the absolute single hit idea. They also consider many artists that have still maintained a quality career and just not reproduced another 'top 40 hit' song and or ma…

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75

There has been a very positive response to the first two 'Greatest' posts. So the list continues and the songs become no less in their timeless quality compared to numbers one through fifty. I will post a #76-100 edition in the near future and that will be out of my system. But what if I do lists by genre, just thinking out loud, sorry but I will keep blogging on various topics as long as people continue to click.

51. "I Put a Spell on You" written and originally recorded by Screamin' Jay Hawkins in 1956. There have been many really good covers of this song but Nina Simone (1965) was just the second person to cover this song. I just can't get over how overlooked this artist was in her time, a high class version that turns the song on it's ear to give it an entirely different sound.


52. "Strange Fruit" was a courageous recording by the legendary Billie Holliday from 1939. A song written as a poem by another …

Old Country New Country

Old Country/New Country


What exactly I am about to attempt to demonstrate I confess I'm not 100% certain, but what I do know is that there has been a bit of a downward sliding scale regarding the enduring quality of mainstream Country Music songs. Apologies in advance for rambling and ranting at various points. This is not a history of Country Music but my opinion on the current state of things in general with the genre.

It's murky waters that I'm swimming in here as there is an evolution involved in any music genre so direct comparisons are perhaps inappropriate. I am somewhat aware of the influence the so called Country Music "establishment" has had on this evolution. One need only look at examples like Taylor Swift, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks and others who were criticized and in some cases "shunned" for their unconventional approaches who are now celebrated as part of that same 'establishment'. So there is some hypocrisy at play in my op…

Radiohead

Radiohead



When talking about the band I have to confess I'm out of my depth so I will tread lightly. We should however get right to their beginnings and major influence, that being the 'Talking Heads' and their namesake song "Radio Head". The band had been called 'On a Friday' but their record label requested they change it before signing a contract (with EMI records) in 1991.
Radiohead are one of the most successful and influential Rock bands since their debut album "Pablo Honey' (Jerky Boys) in February of 1993. All their songs are credited to the entire band Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway and Thom Yorke. And there's the 'sixth member' producer Nigel Godrich who's done all their albums since 1994. Their song "Creep" charted top 40 across the world and it's depressing tone eventually wore the band down to the point they stopped playing it live for a long period of time. The songs melo…

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #26-50

The next 25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #26-50

In part one I listed 25 of the greatest cover songs and to date it's been my most viewed blog post. There are so many more I wanted to add to the list so depending on the response, I'm prepared to follow with 51-75 and 76-100 in the future.

This list in part comes from many of the songs that I have already posted in the past 15 months or so since I started blogging. As for how songs make it on my list there are a few criteria, while I don't dismiss music from more recent years a song has to have stood the test of time for me, hence much of the list are songs of some vintage and just plain old, like the writer. Next, the original song itself must have some character and some degree of popularity. And preferably the artist and or songwriters are of interest as well. I have read other lists of great cover songs from books, articles and google searches and you'll find much similarity, but some of them contain songs I just don…

Aretha Franklin: Remembering the Gospel, Soul and Pop music Virtuosa

Remembering Aretha Franklin, a story… through cover songs
On the first anniversary of her passing, another homage to one of the greatest voices of all time. I paid tribute to her and some of her most memorable cover songs on August 16 of last year, but there are many more to talk about.

If you know anything about Aretha Franklin then you will know that the Church and Gospel Music was a big part of her life. I myself do enjoy the odd Gospel song, particularly ones I’ve discovered from the likes of the unbelievably talented Sister Rosetta Tharpe . Also some of the other singers I regularly enjoy such as Elvis or Johnny Cash, mostly because of the vocal intensity and the connections I can draw to popular music. But this particular song from Aretha just blew me away.Considering this was a live recording of not the greatest technical quality with lots of background distraction, ‘believer’ or not you won’t be able to not feel something when you listen.
Precious Lord”, Aretha Franklin was re…

Country Rock

Country Rock


Music genres attempt to be definitive but are still typically full of a good spectrum of divergent styles. In order to pigeon hole artists we have over time developed other genres, sub and sub sub genres. Country music has over two dozen including; Classic Country, Country Pop, Blues Country and even Country rap.

Most Artists can be placed in more than one category but we tend to want to associate them most closely with a specific one. I've read that Country Rock came from Rock bands doing more Country flavored music not Country artists doing rock music. But I've found there are many early examples of Country music sounding pretty rock-like and I have included some examples below. We don't always tend to identify music and genres in the early stages of development and in many cases it's done quite retroactively. I've talked about a few artists thought to be 'Rock' that started to record with a more Country music feel, back as early as the 1950…