Monday, 28 July 2008

Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time was compiled in 2004 and, although I've thought about some of the choices for a while now, I only went through the list properly last night.

Let's start with the basics. I have 320 of these songs either on my iPod or in CD form. There are another 52 I'd quite like, and about 50 I haven't heard of. The rest, I'm just not interested in.

So, how does a song get judged as one of the greatest songs of all time? I'm quite happy with many of the top 100, although not necessarily the order they're in, and I'd certainly bump a few more up (and down).

This list was voted on by 172 musicians, critics, and industry figures. But what was their criteria? Was their #1 choice, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", a politically (or music industrially) correct choice? How does "Caroline, No" (The Beach Boys) manage to beat "Rocket Man" (Elton John)? How did "Louie Louie" (The Kingsmen) even make the list, let alone end up at #55??

There are a few dozen songs that I think are absolutely superior (and for so many different reasons), and they make it hard to compile even my own Top 50. I'm a musician, so that either helps or hinders my opinion, depending on how you look at it. I'm well aware that many non-musos would either question my choices, or make me cringe with their own. But what do you think makes a truly great song? Would love to hear about it ...

5 comments:

Donna said...

First off-Thanks for the comment!

I would say that to make a great song, it's the emotion. Well at least for me it is. What kind of emotion does it envoke in you? Does it make you want to change the station when you hear it, press skip? Does it make you crank it up? Do you go back to it time and again when you get in a funk? What kind of memory does it stir?

Those are the truly great songs....

Sab said...

I agree with Donna! When a song strikes a tear in me for being super sweet, or when it brings up memories of days past, it becomes a favorite. Some just for being songs I remembered listening to as a kid with my dad or dancing along with my siblings...

Incredible how music can move you!

Martha said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I just took a peek at yours and really enjoyed it. I love music--all kinds, for the most part. I agree with the previous two comments. Music is really good when it strikes a personal chord deep inside--and that's the music I always seem to remember.

kimz said...

I really like it when music has a lot of interesting changes.
What does make a song great? It's like a person who has charisma... it draws you in… it’s visceral. "Louie Louie" might not be GREAT... but it has that. ;)

Café Chick said...

Thank you all for your comments. For me, a good song is one that exploits one or more musical aspect to an exceptional level, eg melody, harmony, rhythm, orchestration, etc. (Gosh, I sound like a music teacher again!) But, for many songs, it's the culmination of these aspects to create a whole package which makes a song truly great.

And, of course, the memories associated with a song can make it that much more special, and I tend to associate so many songs with events or feelings that were going on when I was first listening to it.