ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Entertainment and Media»
  • Music

What is the best rock and roll song of all time?

Updated on August 25, 2013

So many songs, where do you start...

Rock and roll is going on 60 years old. From its origins in the mid fifties with pioneers as varied as Elvis, Little Richard, Bill Haley, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, there have been a multitude of songs that have entered the public conscience. Many have become the soundtrack to our most intimate life events, some a punchline and some a mere footnote.

Many different entities have tried to categorize what is the best song in the Rock and Roll era. Because there are so many different era's, scenes, genre's and personalities, coming up with one answer can be quite a divisive proposition. One could say trying to come up with the answer can be a herculean task.

Well, I am going to give it a shot.

Some familiar reference points

Of course with every attempt to try and quantify the seemingly unquantifiable, there are some touchstones we can identify along the way.

"Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin invariably comes up in many classic rock radio polls. Ditto for "Satisfaction" by the Stones. Any number of Beatles songs get mentioned. Certainly metalheads will point to "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead, "Master of Puppets" by Metallica or "Reign In Blood" by Slayer. Fans of alternative rock would go with any number of selections from REM, The Pixies, Husker Du or the Replacements. Classic rock fans would go with a "Carry on Wayward Son" or "More Than A Feeling". You get the idea.

But how would one arrive the best song of all time?

My Criteria

I have pondered on this long and hard. I came up with a couple of necessary criteria for my choice.

First of all, the song has to has some staying power. It would also need to have some appeal to a cross section of musical tastes. The song needs to have some pedigree of critical acclaim as well.

My biggest qualifier, though, was the song needs to have a solid original version, a definitive version and a good number of solid cover versions. Simply stated, the song has to be good enough that is almost impossible to screw it up, no matter who tries their hand at recording it.

Over the years, we have all heard cringe-inducing versions of good and great songs. From Limp Bizkit putting the wrecking ball to "Faith" to Celine Dion trying to be hip by ruining "You Shook Me All Night Long" nothing puts me in a tailspin quicker.

And the winner is.....

Drum roll please. The best song in the history of rock and roll is:

All Along the Watchtower.

Originally recorded by Bob Dylan in 1967, his version has evocative lyrics, an understated yet recognizable chord progression and an almost impending doom like ambiance.

The song has one of the great opening lines in Rock and Roll, "There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief."

Of course the song also has the definitive version by Jimi Hendrix, which was released six months after Dylan.

Both of these versions are great. But the list of other artists who have had a go at this classic number is a veritable Who's Who's of Rock And Roll.

The Dave Matthews Band, U2, Lenny Kravitz, Eric Clapton, John Mellencamp, The Grateful Dead, Pearl Jam and Steve Hackett (with John Wetton) have all had a go at it, among countless others. It may be the ultimate go-to song for a band looking for a bring down the house encore to their live show.

It has always amazed that artists from across so many genres can take the basic structure of this song and add their own little twist, thereby making the song unique yet altogether recognizable at the same time.

As an extra bonus to many of us, a great many of these versions have played out in high profile live settings, which gives each version an additional spark of energy.

So there you have it. Those of you who read this will invariable have any opinion. But great music lends itself to heady discussion and if my humble view can spark a new conversation for an old argument, I am all for it.

Give any of this song's versions a listen. You wont be disappointed.

Happy listening!


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • c-m-hall profile image

      CMarie 4 years ago from York, Maine

      Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven 1971

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)