The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Shouldn’t’ve is my favorite punctuation)

Missy_Elliott_Get_Ur_Freak_OnThe 500 Greatest Songs of All Time is yet another list from Rolling Stone. “For the first time in 17 years, we’ve completely remade our list of the best songs ever. More than 250 artists, writers, and industry figures helped us choose a brand-new list full of historic favorites, world-changing anthems, and new classics.”

First of all, it’s difficult for me to analyze when there’s about 10% of the songs I’ve never heard, and often never heard of. This is not a criticism of the list, only my deficiencies in music from about 1990 forward.

So these are pretty random observations. Some of the songs on the list I’ve written about before, though I haven’t linked to all of them because my reflections would be too long.

#497: Lizzo, Truth Hurts (2017) – 21st-century song I’ve actually heard!
#489 The Breeders, Cannonball (1993) – I have an irrational fondness for this. I have the album and the EP on which it came out
#461 Roy Orbison, Crying (1962) – I still contend the version by Orbison and k.d. lang is better
#436 Carly Rae Jepsen,  Call Me Maybe (2012) song that became a meme; even I couldn’t have missed it
#427 Sugar Hill Gang, Rapper’s Delight (1979) – probably the first rap song I ever bought; actually, it was the long version
#417 Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk (2015) – I heard this a LOT during rehearsals for a church musical. Seriously.
#401 Fleetwood Mac, Go Your Own Way (1977) – “Nicks has admitted that [the lyrics] angered her so much that she ‘wanted to go over and kill [Lindsay Buckingham]’ each time she sang it onstage.” Which is why I love it so much.

South Korean stars

#362 Kacey Musgraves, Merry Go ‘Round – love the wordplay
#346 BTS, Dynamite (2020) – I blame my daughter for me knowing as much about BTS as I do.
#336 – Hall and Oates, She’s Gone (1973) – There is a story about this
#332 -Rihanna ft. JAY-Z- Umbrella (2007). This has inspired at least five JEOPARDY clues
#318- Big Mama Thornton, Hound Dog (1953). Some of the seminal songs of rock and roll I might have placed higher.

#276 Buzzcocks, Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) (1978). The answer is yes.
#269 The Righteous Brothers, Unchained Melody (1965) From my single experience DJing a wedding, play this song.
#251 Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive (1978). I wrote about it here 
#229 Woody Guthrie, This Land Is Your Dream (1951) – it’d be in my Top Ten

#191 Bobbie Gentry, Ode To Billie Joe (1967). Forty years after it was released, I wrote about it.
#175 The Flamingos, I Only Have Eyes For You (1959) – one of my favorite songs of all time
#115 Etta James, At Last (1960) Our wedding dance in 1999.
1960

Message songs

#45 Kendrick Lamar, Alright (2015). I first heard this in 2016 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame display Louder Than Words: Rock * Power * Politics #36 The White Stripes, Seven Nation Army (2003). “Jack White was futzing about on his guitar during soundcheck on one of the White Stripes’ Australian tours when he stumbled upon the weightiest hard-rock riff this side of Jimmy Page.”
#21 Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit (1939) – I wrote about it here. Its profile was enlarged by the movie The United States v. Billie Holiday

#10 Outkast, Hey Ya! (2003). One of the few 21st-century songs I introduced to my daughter
#8 Missy Elliott, Get Ur Freak On (2001). OK, I’ll own it. I had never heard this song before.
#4 Bob Dylan, Like A Rolling Stone (1965). I believe this was #1 seventeen years ago.
#3 Sam Cooke, A Change Is Gonna Come (1964). I believe that the song’s prominence in the movie One Night In Miami helped raise the song’s profile.
#1 Aretha Franklin, Respect (1967). Well, of course. Would have been my #1 17 years ago. Plus two Aretha movies, including one with this title!

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”

  1. Missy Elliott’s Work It is on my YouTube workout playlist. Sam Cooke, that whole album, “Night Beat,” is the best. Change is one of his best songs ever. Linked his sound with his cause, and I love that. If I never, ever hear Bob Dylan sing again, that would suit me fine. Great songwriter, but ugh, his singing is like a buzzsaw!

    I am committed to the song “Strange Fruit,” its message, its history – and the fact that it was written by a Jewish Communist blew my mind. I appreciate Billie Holiday’s singing it, but you know what? I admit, her style at that point was so mannered that I don’t like her recording of it. Too many self-conscious lilts, and it distracts me. There you have it, a huge thing to admit, being such a Billie fan.

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