Best Classic Rock Songs
The Best Classic Rock Songs ever performed have mostly originated during the decades of the 60's and 70's. I am a huge classic rock fan and grew up glued to the music of this era. My personal favorite rock band of all time has always been the Beatles, but there are numerous other solo artists and groups that I loved listening to, while growing up. A short list of my other faves are Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Mountain, The Kinks, Boston, ELO, The Doobie Bros., CSNY, Jethro Tull and Fleetwood Mac.
There were numerous other great artists during this era, but these stick out in my mind, mainly because they had so many great tunes. When I rate favorite artists, albums or songs I use a fairly simple formula. The music must sound great and strike a personal chord within my life. Also, it needs to sound as good to me now as it did when I heard it for the first time. Usually I am not swayed by highly commercialized tunes such as "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. I once loved this song until I heard it for the 5,000,000th time. Sorry to you purists out there. This is only my humble opinion.
All of the artists listed above have countless tunes on my top 500 list, but for simplicity I will not include them all here. Also, I find it difficult to rate songs in a specific order, because my preferences might change as time passes and more memories are created linking my feelings to these tunes. One more thing to remember is that these are the Best Classic Rock Songs in My Opinion Only. Don't be offended if I left your favorite Rock Band or Classic Rock Hit off of the list. I have listened to many thousands of hits over the years from this era, and these are the most memorable to me.
My list begins with "Barracuda" by Heart. This is one of many songs that really show off the vocal ranges of Ann Wilson, who I believe has one of the strongest voices among female rock & roll performers of all time, second only to Janis Joplin. Of course Aretha would be up there, (possibly #1) but I consider her mainly soul & blues rather than classic rock.
The next tune I will list is "Celluloid Heroes" by the Kinks. Ray Davies and the Kinks are another great classic rock band from the British invasion era and this tune is a great ballad dedicated to past movie stars and their hopes and dreams.
"Nantucket Sleighride" and "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain are also on the list. These songs show off the smooth vocals of the late Felix Pappalardi and the hard rock rasping voice and guitar of Leslie West. As a producer, Pappalardi is known for his work with the psychedelic blues-inspired rock trio the Cream. One of the members of Cream was Eric Clapton. I consider Clapton to be one of the greatest electric guitar magicians of our time, second only to Jimi Hendrix. Two of Clapton's tunes and one from Cream are on my list. The classic "Layla" and "Mainline Florida" are awesome singles by this blues rock great. "Badge" is a smooth tune from his early group Cream. My favorite song from Jimi Hendrix is "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)", which is a must for any connoisseur of rock & roll guitar. A footnote here for those of you who are BB King fans. I believe he is the greatest strictly Blues, guitar player of all time, but will include him as an inspirer to Hendrix and Clapton, not as a classic rock act.
The unique vocal chemistry of CSNY (Crosby,Stills, Nash & Young) also produced a vast number of hits. My four favorites CSNY tunes, also making the list, are "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" (dedicated to Judy Collins), "DeJa Vu", "Woodstock" and "Ohio".
Led Zeppelin, a super group from the 70's featured powerful vocals from Robert Plant and incredible guitar work from Jimmy Page. Besides the aforementioned "Stairway to Heaven" which I believe to be highly overplayed, they had many unforgettable songs. My favorites are "Black Dog", "Kashmir" and the "Immigrant Song".
Jethro Tull was Grammy award winning British Rock band that formed in the the late 60's. Their music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of front man Ian Anderson. Three of my favorites from them are "Living in the Past" , "A Christmas Song". and "Thick as a Brick"
"White Rabbit", an amazing vocal performance, was belted out by Grace Slick of the California based psychedelic rock group the Jefferson Airplane later known as the Jefferson Starship. I would also include her among the greatest female rock vocalists of all time.
"Funk #49" was a classic Joe Walsh guitar riff performed when he was with the James Gang. He later performed the hot guitar solo at the end of "Hotel California" when he was with the Eagles.
Mott the Hoople was a 1970s English Rock and roll and glam rock band with strong R&B roots. They are best known for the unique classic rock song "All the Young Dudes" which was written for them by their fan David Bowie, who later performed "Heroes" which is ranked 46 on Rolling Stone magazines 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The Electric Light Orchestra also known as ELO, were a rock group from England that released eleven studio albums starting in 1971. They used cellos, violins, horns and woodwinds to give their music a classical sound, to take rock music in a new direction. Two of my favorites from them are "I Can't Get it out of My Head" and "Turn to Stone"
"Don't Look Back" and "Foreplay - Long Time" are two amazing tunes performed by the great 70's rock band Boston. They were led by the innovative MIT engineering graduate and musical research genius Tom Scholz. The late lead singer Brad Delp had one of the most amazing vocal ranges of all time. He also put together a Beatles tribute band known as BeetleJuice.
"China Grove" , "Long Train Runnin" and "Listen to the Music" were three powerful tunes performed by the American rock band, The Doobie Brothers.
Tom Petty is a rock artist that reminds me very much of a more "Rocksy" and less "Folksy" Bob Dylan. He has the perfect rock and roll voice. His best hits (in my opinion), were "Don't Come Around Here No More", "Into The Great Wide Open" and an unbelievable duo with Stevie Nicks (from Fleetwood Mac), that is one of my all time favorite rock combo tunes: "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" . Fleetwood Mac, who led all rock groups in intergroup romances and breakups, had some very memorable hits like "Rhiannon", "I'm So Afraid" and "Tusk".
Bruce Springsteen "the Boss" another great rock and roll showman, put New Jersey on the map when he produced what I consider one of the best rock albums of all time, "Born to Run".
The Moody Blues were a British band from the 60's who had some beautiful and melodious hits such as "Ride My See-Saw", "The Story in Your Eyes" and "Nights in White Satin".
Van Halen is currently performing a few reunion concerts (if they survive it), with David Lee Roth in the lead. They were a very memorable "MTV Generation" rock group with colorful and humorous videos. I loved three in particular: "Jump ", "Hot For Teacher " and "Panama.
U2 is an Irish band that has been raising tons of money for hunger around the world. My favorite's by them are "Where The Streets Have No Name" and the two powerhouse hits "Beautiful Day" and "Vertigo"
Pink Floyd are an English rock band that initially earned recognition for their psychedelic rock music, and, as they evolved, for their progressive rock music. They are known for philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative cover art, and elaborate live shows. My favorite songs by them are "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" and two unique tunes "Pigs" and "Sheep" which came from their innovative "Animals" album. This is my all time favorite classic rock album.
The 60's also produced tons of memorable music by the groups that I consider the founders of the classic rock sounds. I consider the 5 founders or most influential classic rock groups to be the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, BeeGees and Doors. These artists have produced so many of my favorite classic rock songs that I couldn't list them all here so I will try to limit them.
"Tell All the People" and "Peace Frog" are my favorite tunes by Jim Morrison and the Doors. They were one of the most controversial bands of their time, due mostly to Morrison's cryptic lyrics and unpredictable stage persona.
"Good Vibrations" was a breakthrough sound created by Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, considered by some to be the American version of the Beatles, It was the first 3 minute plus song released as a single. Two other favorites of mine from them were "Heroes and Villains" and "I Get Around".
The Rolling Stones are an English band whose rhythm and blues and rock and roll based music became popular during the "British Invasion" of the early 1960s. They are still going strong in their FIFTH Decade of music. "Brown Sugar", "19th Nervous Breakdown", "Let's Spend the Night Together" and "Street Fightin Man" are my all time Rolling Stones favorites.
The BeeGees were a singing trio of brothers - Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, that became one of the most successful musical acts of all time. "Tragedy" and "Night Fever" are my all time favorites performed by them. They also performed an amazing sounding tune with Celine Dion called "Immortality"
My favorite Classic Rock band of all time was The Beatles. They were only around as a group for 8 years but their body of work was the most amazing ever created in the history of Rock and Roll. I don't believe there was ever such an influential band in the history of music. It was also my opinion that they were so great because of their ability to create catchy, thought provoking and harmonious tunes that were performed in so many styles that they could represent 6 or 7 genre of music. My favorites from these lads from Liverpool, England were:
"I Feel Fine", "We Can Work it Out", "Day Tripper","Paperback Writer","A Day In the Life", "Back in the USSR", "Birthday", "Get Back", "Hey Jude", "Across the Universe" and "Let it Be"
The Best Classic Rock Songs might have generated a huge list of great music here, but I feel that I could not do the body of work from the 60's and 70's justice by omitting any of these tunes. Look some of them up and enjoy them just like I have over the years.