Posts Tagged ‘Top 100’

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 3

September 20, 2021
  1. Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier

When I was growing up, I never really listened to the lyrics of this song growing up because I had yet to learn history. The song’s title and lyrics make reference to the term Buffalo Soldier which was coined by Native Americans during the Indian Wars. The regiment of black US Army soldiers was given all of the difficult jobs in the military. One of those jobs was to protect colonizers from displaced Native Americans who thought that their hair looked like the pelt of a Buffalo. Marley was a fighter in his own way, fighting for the rights of black people through his music and his activism. The bouncy tune and Marley’s signature calm but forceful voice combine to create a great song.

  1. The Beach Boys – Barbara Ann

There are so many great songs to choose from when it comes to the Beach Boys. A lot of their songs were appropriately fast-paced and uptempo for me. Barbara Ann is just so much fun. The vocals have more of a layered feel as we have not only the usual vocals from the Beach Boys but also William Jan Berry from Jan and Dean (who originally performed the song). Those vocals are bouncy and cut loose and fun. There are not a lot of other instruments as the guys are mostly just jamming the vocals. The single was rushed out by the studio without the band’s knowledge to try and bolster the group’s reputation after the previous release was disappointing. Still, it gave the track a less polished feel which may be why I like it so much.

  1. Buddy Holly – Maybe Baby

My dad used to sing this to me as a kid. That is primarily why I chose this song out of all of Holly’s hits. Apart from my sentimentality, the song is really good on its own. The song is upbeat and up-tempo but somehow still allows Holly to croon out the vocals. The guitar and bass guitar parts form a really fun riff. The song has a little bit of a playfulness but definitely a bounciness that I love. This song (seeing as how I heard it as a baby) was my introduction of the genre of rockabilly. My parents taught me so much about music and how to appreciate it.

  1. Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song

I have been slowly reminded lately that Led Zeppelin is actually a good band. I think that my perception of them is constantly colored by Stairway to Heaven which I dislike so much. They have so many rocking tunes. Early on when I was a kid I was blown away that they had so many Hobbit references in their songs. I just did not get a lot of that from other bands. This song was always my favorite with its battle cry and lyrics about Viking journeys and battles, it really gets your blood pumping. The guitar riffs feel all jangly and exciting. It does not hurt that this song had such a prominent place in Thor: Ragnarok.

  1. Stevie Wonder – Uptight (Everything’s Alright)

The first thing that hits me in this song is the rhythm from the drums as they kick in. Thar rhythm continues through the song like a steady march. Then the high horns kick in. Wonder sings with an obvious joy and passion that is impossible to deny. It is interesting that this is probably the song that saved Stevie Wonder’s career. He had only two moderate hits previously and, as his voice changed, the studio was about to cut him loose. Like me, the producer for this single and the fans really liked Wonder’s new, deeper tenor and he was back on top and headed toward becoming a legend.

  1. Sam Cooke – Good Times

Probably one of Cooke’s most iconic songs (and more commercially sellable than the very important A Change Is Going to Come). As usual, Cooke’s voice is so sweet to the ear as he croons out some great lyrics. The backing instrumentals are really good at staying out of the way and letting Cooke burn things up. The song speaks of the heart and soul of what music is and what feeling good should be.

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 2

September 6, 2021
  1. Jimi Hendrix – Foxy Lady

I listened to a lot of Jimi especially when I was in high school. I had a friend that played a passable cover of his version of All Along the Watchtower. My brother learned to play guitar from watching Hendrix do it. He had many fantastic songs but Foxy (or sometimes spelled Foxey) Lady has long been a favorite of mine. Part of it has to do with this song being prominently used in Wayne’s World. Most of it has to do with the song itself. It is definitely a great display of Hendrix’s wailing vocals with his unique deep voice. The guitar riff also really does it for me. It feels like a revving engine to me as it punctuates each sentence in the song. One thing that really hit me as I went back through Jimi’s catalog to make my selection is that he only had two albums to choose from. It’s still pretty tragic.

  1. James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good)

Yes, I went with the cliche. This song just makes me feel good. It starts with Brown’s excited scream and then the funky horns start. The horn riff feels joyous and playful. The drums and horns really punctuate the chorus and give it the oomph it needs. James was never really easy to understand but when he recorded this one, he was clear as a bell. It may be why this is the song most used in movies, television, and commercials. As with all of his songs, James Brown sells the hell out of it with his vocals and leaves everything behind when he’s done.

  1. Little Richard – Rip It Up

Decidedly not going with the cliche this time. When I think of Little Richard, I always think of him hitting the long high notes as he leans back as he plays the piano. He put his whole body into the music even when he was just sitting at the piano which would inspire plenty of other pianists (ie Elton John). When I was going back through his catalog, this song caught my eye and I realized I had forgotten about it. This song feels like it has a little more edge to it. The bouncy instrumentals make me smile. The slightly aggressive way that he sings about having a good time after work makes me think back to times that I felt the same way. It just feels so good to be done for the day and heading out (or in my case home) to have some fun.

  1. Aretha Franklin – Think

Once again influenced by movies as Aretha’s performance of the song in Blues Brothers is electric and sassy. Aretha may have been known for Respect but she shared it with many other acts. Aretha owned this song and nobody ever came close. I also really like the lyrics better for what Aretha does with them. The way she weaves the words (especially in Blues Brothers) felt like a predecessor to rap music with the speed she’s going. Aretha’s voice has always been one of my favorites and her songs seemed to be more uptempo than some of her contemporaries. I really love the bouncy, happy rhythm as Aretha threatens her lover.

  1. Ray Charles – Hit The Road Jack

There are not as many Ray Charles songs that I like as other artists on this list. He was a great singer and piano player but his songs were more crooning than I usually listen to. In fact, my favorite song he ever did was paired up with George Jones called “I Didn’t See A Thing”. It’s just so playful and funny but it doesn’t count for this list. Hit the Road Jack is playful and feels a lot like what I think of as traditional blues. This is definitely a song that does a lot between Ray and his backup singers. Ray gets the majority of it but the back and forth really sells it. The horns are iconic and once again it is easy to guess why this song is also used a lot in film.

Rolling Stone Top 100 Project Pt. 1

August 16, 2021

While I was listening to the radio, one of the morning DJs posed a question about the hosts’ pick for favorite Rolling Stones song. I thought about it and I thought it would be neat to name my number one song for various bands and musical acts. I was originally only going to do Rock but I stumbled on the top 100 Musical Artists list from Rolling Stone magazine so I decided to use that. There are technically two lists so I may jump between them a bit but the first 26 did not change between 2005 and 2011.

  1. The Beatles – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

Yes, the Beatles had dozens of really good songs that I could have put here. However, when I was a preteen, I fell in love with Abbey Road and played it often as I walked home from school. While other songs may have more technical skill or more meaning, this is just the lads from Liverpool having a good time. The song also has a dark edge behind its jolly sound which definitely falls within the scope of my interests. There are a lot of clever rhymes that just sound really pleasing to my ear as well.

  1. Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues

A lot of Bob Dylan’s most popular songs are too slow and rambling for me. In contrast, this song has a frenetic energy as he rushes toward the finish line. The lyrics are interesting in that they can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Dylan claimed that he was inspired by beat poets like Kerouac and Ginsberg. He was also inspired by the Woody Guthrie – Pete Seeger song “Taking It Easy” and Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business”. Thankfully, the music video has some of the lyrics on cue cards because Dylan never was big on diction. Still, he inspired a lot of musicians. https://www.youtube.com/embed/PpsUOOfb-vE

  1. Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock

Elvis had a ton of hits as well. I did not really care for his crooning ballads (although they melted many hearts back in the day) but when Elvis was rocking and rolling, I loved his music. I actually performed Elvis songs on stage once for a Church talent show (along with much more talented and not-having-a-panic-attack partners). I think that was when I started to appreciate Elvis more as a musician than the cartoon he was usually portrayed as. Jailhouse Rock just always felt like his hardest-hitting song. I also loved the lyrics as I could imagine the party he is describing.

  1. Rolling Stones – Paint it Black

Something about the haunting, calmer singing with a rocking instrumental really gets to me. Also, as a preteen and teen, I was a bit goth and was the kind of person that would always answer “black” when asked for my favorite color. What really cemented this song as my favorite is the video game Twisted Metal Black which used it as a theme song. When I was in the depths of my worst period of depression, songs like these felt good because I felt less alone.

  1. Chuck Berry – No Particular Place To Go

I was so tempted to put “My Ding a ling” here but I feel like this is my actual answer. The guitar is what really gets me in this one (although most of his songs had great guitar). I like the progression of the song where the music starts jubilant and excited but ends kind of angry. This befits the funny story that the lyrics tell of a bad date night. It was this song that I thought of when I first heard The Guess Who’s “Clap for the Wolfman”. Berry knew how to paint a picture and this song just feels so good.


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