When you Ask Roger Anything, he has to answer. Here’s something from my friend Walter regarding what I wrote about the Rolling Stone list of greatest songs.
But what WASN’T in the 500 that you would have included?
A brutal question. First off, it’s narrowed to the popular song, as opposed to tunes before 1930, so. definitionally, it’s lacking.
That said, the FIRST recording I thought of was Biko by Peter Gabriel, which, besides being a tremendous tribute, inspired a whole lot of activism. Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young was a response to a terrible event. For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield was definitely a huge part of the soundtrack of the 1960s
There was a dearth of country music; one Patsy Cline, two Hank Williams, two Johnny Cash one Dixie Chicks, one Kacey Musgraves, a couple of others. I was hoping for something from Lyle Lovett, k.d. lang, Garth Brooks. I might suggest Baby, Now Tha I Found You – Alison Krauss; Man Of Constant Sorrow – Foggy Mountain Boys; I Fall To Pieces – Patsy Cline; and Hurt – Johnny Cash, for instance.
Only a handful of jazz tracks made it. I’d add Take Five – Dave Brubeck. And there was not much older music. Perhaps Nature Boy – Nat King Cole or – and why not? –White Christmas – Bing Crosby.
Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin La Bamba – Ritchie Valens The Twist – Chubby Checker. Twice went to #1. The Hank Ballard version is arguably better. The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel. My favorite song by the duo.
The 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.
#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!
Somehow I missed the release of a new Rolling Stone top album list back on September 22.
Consequence of Sound notes its semi-import. “It’s nerd news, yes, but the list — if only because it has been the most famous and accessible of its kind — has been as much an authority and tome as anything else over the last two decades on what’s essential when it comes to popular music albums.”
The last time the list was fully updated was in 2003 . This list of the Top 100 from that year is far more accessible.
Here is Top 10 for 2020 (and where that album was in 2003):
01. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (6) 02. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (2) 03. Joni Mitchell – Blue (30) 04. Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (56) 05. The Beatles – Abbey Road (14) 06. Nirvana – Nevermind (17) 07. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (26) 08. Prince and the Revolution – Purple Rain (72) 09. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks (16) 10. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (314)
The 2003 version (and where that album is in 2020):
01. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (24) 02. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (2) 03. The Beatles – Revolver (11) 04. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (18) 05. The Beatles – Rubber Soul (35) 06. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1) 07. The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (14) 08. The Clash – London Calling (16) 09. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (38) 10. The Beatles – The White Album (29)
In with the new
The CoS notes Five Reasons to Appreciate Rolling Stone’s New Top 500 Albums. they are Inclusion; Canons Change; More Music Is a Good Thing; The Purpose of Criticism Has Changed; and Precedent.
As it turns out, I have all of the albums in each Top 10 list. But my collection is sorely bereft of rap/hip hop. So I don’t have any Kayne West (#17) or The Notorious B.I.G. (#22), e.g.
I know these lists have helped me discover music I haven’t listened to. Rolling Stone Top 10 Albums of the 1980s got me to add Shoot Out The Lights by Richard And Linda Thompson to my collection. Likewise, I’ve only acquired Public Enemy (#15) and Kendrick Lamar (#19) recently.
I’m actually happy to see the Beatles relinquish dominance of the Top 10, from four albums to a totally different one. Likewise, two Dylan albums have been replaced by another. I’m amazed how Pet Sounds has remained at #2. Joni, Stevie, and Prince belonged there years ago.
Here are some songs from those Top 10 albums according to Rolling Stone in 2020.