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My Personal Top Ten Classic Rock Songs of All Time

Updated on June 28, 2020

Growing up, my father would play a lot of classic rock anywhere we would drive to. He would play The Eagles, Styx and Night Ranger on the way to school. He would also play Damn Yankees, Guns N' Roses and Scorpion on our way to baseball games to pump me up. Classic rock was a large part of my life growing up and it still is. I have mild Tinnitus in both ears so I always have headphones in playing music to drown out the ringing. It is almost always a guarantee that I will be listening to some kind of classic rock, I do also enjoy Jimmy Buffet but he is not technically considered classic rock. I figured since this genre of music is such a big part of my life I should make it the first article I publish, to all of you, random strangers on the internet who I do not know. Now, before we get this show on the road I would like to remind you that this is my personal favorite list. This has nothing to do with commercial success, popularity or critic reviews. I am just a kid who grew up loving these songs. I would also love to hear comments about your favorite songs and whether you agree with my list or if you think I made terrible choices.

10. Piano Man - Billy Joel (1973)

Come on, who does not love that instantly recognizable intro piano riff? I have always loved this retelling of Joel's own experience as a piano-lounge singer. It is a calming song that can just melt away all your troubles for five minutes and 39 seconds, just as all the patrons in "the bar" can "forget about life for a while."

9. Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley (1956)

I have to admit that I am partially biased for this song because my girlfriend loves this song and it has become our song together. Putting that aside however, this is still a classic song that has been absolutely timeless over the last sixty years. Love Me Tender will be now and forever a top tier love/ slow dance song.

8. Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974)

Now this is a song with a lot of controversy behind it. I do not want to get into anything political, I am strictly going to keep this selection about the music. Even though the lyrics may be controversial, for an innocent kid such as I was growing up listening to this song I did not understand the entire meaning behind it, I simply just enjoyed the song for the catchy chorus and fun guitar riffs.

7. Yesterday - The Beatles (1965)

Now this is not a song I grew up listening to, but as I have grown older I have come to appreciate it more and now it is my favorite Beatles song. Yesterday is a beautiful song with an even more beautiful melody that has such a sad story behind it. This breakup song, as sad as it is, is strangely a good reminder to enjoy the love you have now and to not take it for granted.

6. American Pie - Don McLean (1971)

This is yet another song that is instantly recognizable. While Don McLean refuses to explain the symbolism behind most of the song, we do know that it is mostly about the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens on February fourth, 1959. McLean was a thirteen year old paper boy at the time, hence the lyric "February made me shiver / With every paper I'd deliver."

5. Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973)

The one and only repeated band/artist on this list. Yet another on this list of instantly recognizable classics, Free bird is just one of those songs that makes you feel like you can do anything. It has a beautiful chorus and a melody that evolves over the course of this nine minute and eight second song. This song is all about freedom and the idea that a bird can fly wherever it wants to go, and everyone wants to be free.

4. Dust In the Wind - Kansas (1977)

The guitar riff for Dust In the Wind was originally meant to be a finger picking exercise created by Kerry Livgren, a guitarist for Kansas. This finger picking exercise turned into a glorious song about mortality and the inevitability of death. The inspiration for the song has many origins, such as The Bible, a Japanese war epic, and a book of Native American poetry. Rich Williams, lead guitarist for the band admitted that their most popular songs, Dust In the Wind and Carry On My Wayward Son were flukes. They were not typical of the band's style and they ended up being hits on accident.

3. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan (1973)

This legendary song was originally written for the film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. It was released as a single a couple of months later and reached top ten in numerous countries. I love this song because of the story that is being told along with a beautiful melody that just makes us feel calm and soothed.

2. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen (1975)

This was a bit of a tough choice for me to put at two because it is probably one of the greatest songs ever written. It was such a groundbreaking song for its time. For five minutes and fifty-five seconds Freddy Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon effortlessly switch from a slow introduction to sweet ballad into a face melting guitar solo courtesy of Brian May (my favorite guitarist, I mean come on, have you seen the hair, so majestic) which seamlessly transitions into a beautiful operatic section then incredibly into the headbanging hard rock section and then ends with one of the slowest outros you will ever hear from a song that makes you bang your head this hard. This son is almost six full minutes of pure goosebumps and dopamine.

1. Hotel California - The Eagles (1976)

It was painfully hard to put Boheimian Rhapsody as my number two but, Hotel California will always be my favorite song ever. I love absolute every millisecond of this song. This is probably the one and only song that I can and will never skip in my life. If my girlfriend ever skipped this song in my presence, as much as I love her entirely, I would maybe consider breaking up with her (not really, I love her too much). There is so much I could gush about this song, but I will try to keep it simple. The opening guitar riff instantly gives me goosebumps and I especially love when the two little drum beats come in right before "On a dark desert highway" starts the lyrics. The story behind the song is definitely my favorite story that I have ever heard been told. I watched the documentary about The Eagles called "The Long Run" and in this two part documentary the meaning behind Hotel California was explained. For a long time the band kept it a secret but finally revealed that the hotel was a metaphor for losing your innocence. Once you enter the hotel you cannot leave, just how once we lose our innocence we cannot get it back. As the last two lines in the song states, "You can check out any time you like / But you can never leave", this means that you can die at anytime, but you can never regain the innocence that you lost once you enter the hotel. Last thing I want to say about the song is that it maybe never would have happened if not for Don Felder accidentally recording the introduction guitar riff while at a rented Malibu beach house.

© 2020 Shane Conner


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