Snowy TGIF: What is Your Favorite Classic Rock Song?

Crossposted at Daily Kos

The Who — an important band from the 1960’s ‘British Invasion’ — is scheduled to perform during the half-time show at this Sunday’s Super Bowl between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts.  

Anyone who is a classic rock and music aficionado has to wonder: what accounts for the popularity of such rock groups formed almost fifty years ago?

Andy Singer,, Buy this cartoon

A possible answer lies in the connection between rock music and the blues.  Given the brilliant lyrics of the early blues songs, the influence that the blues have had over rock music is obvious to anyone interested in the history of music. Blues too have had a revival of a kind in recent years.  I probably own over two hundred blues cd’s alone — most of them bought in the past five years or so though my interest in the blues goes back several years.  The more I become familiar with them, the greater the urge to listen to older blues from the 1920’s to the 1950’s.  Call it the magnetic pull of musical history.  

The creatively-written blues songs had a significant offspring as blues great Muddy Waters once sang

All you people, you know the blues got a soul

Well this is a story, a story never been told

Well you know the blues got pregnant

And they named the baby Rock & Roll

John Sherffius

John Sherffius,

At our family reunion over the Thanksgiving Weekend, I was talking to my young nieces and nephews (mostly ages twelve to fifteen years) and was somewhat pleasantly surprised to know that they (and their schoolmates) were listening to, among several rap artists, also to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Santana, Eric Clapton, Eagles, and even the Beatles.

What accounts for the continuing appeal and enduring popularity of these artists?  Do they represent an era that many young people today wish they were a part of?  One in which materialism and careerism were not all-pervasive and all-consuming.  From civil rights to womens rights to anti-war demonstrations, the 1960’s and early 1970’s certainly did represent a turbulent era in our country’s history.  And perhaps nothing reflects our society’s condition better at any given moment in time than the songs written in that era.

Jeanne McManus wrote this last year in the Washington Post on the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival

Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader

:: ::

Was Woodstock a haven for the overindulged, self-important youth of 1969?  Some of my friends think so. But I think that, to its credit, pieces of Woodstock’s own crazy world broke off and spun their way into a larger world, especially the one in which I dutifully participated; for about 10 years after Woodstock, its atmospherics were infectious.

Pete Townshend — guitarist and songwriter for ‘The Who’ — had a memorable encounter with political activist Abbie Hoffman at Woodstock in 1969

Townshend would not be denied a chance at creating his own iconic guitar-destroying moment, however. Hendrix be damned!  When off-kilter anti-Vietnam War protester Abbie Hoffman ran onstage during the Who’s Woodstock performance, Townshend got it.  Hoffman – who once tried to levitate the Pentagon through mass meditation – commandeered the microphone during “Pinball Wizard” in order to protest the jailing of White Panther leader John Sinclair.

That didn’t sit well with Townshend, who told Hoffman to “f___ off” before smashing him with his guitar, knocking him from the stage.  The guitar was destroyed and Townshend had his moment – though that’s little consolation to Hoffman, who probably didn’t appreciate becoming a footnote in rock’s history in such a painfully embarrassing way.

:: ::

‘The Who’ were not the only British rock band to achieve a high degree of popularity here in this country.  As I wrote in my tribute to the Beatles in this diary in 2004 before the 2004 Election

Dave Granlund,, Buy this caroon

:: ::

The Beatles — the ‘Fab Four’ group of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — hit the shores of the United States in 1964 like a sorely-needed breath of fresh air.  Over the next few years, their innovative musical sound and brilliant lyrics not only transformed the world of Rock and Roll but gave us much more than just a few memorable tunes.  No group before or since has perhaps done more to transform our culture as we know it today.  No one reflected the political turbulence, turmoil, anxieties, ambiguities, ambivalence, conflicts, and uncertainties of their era better.  

Or contributed more to redefine it.

How about the North American performers like Carlos Santana, Guess Who, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Credence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and countless others?  They too made significant contributions to our culture.  And then some.  So many other British groups are part of our musical memories.  From Bad Company to Queen to Led Zeppelin to Pink Floyd to the Moody Blues, these legendary performers have enriched our minds and left a legacy of great lyrics and music.  

If any of you saw the excellent PBS series, The Blues you’ll recall Willie Dixon’s observation

The blues are the roots; everything else is the fruits.

How then to compile a short list of some of the best classic rock songs?  Should I give preference to the lyrics, the music, choice of instruments, the performer, peer recognition, the social impact of the song, or something else?  The criteria are many and all too subjective.  Just like compiling any other list — best movies, best actors or actresses, all-time baseball/football/basketball/hockey teams, favorite political philosophers, best politicians, and the like — the debate is endless and the controversies never-ending.  But choose we must for, indeed, life is about making choices. More than we’d perhaps like.

Remember, this is just one list.  I know there are quite a few music “experts” amongst you. Undoubtedly, your list is different.  So, here goes.  Choose a song.  Then, given the limitations of this poll, elaborate your other choices (listed or not) in the comments section.

Fire away.  And, don’t beat me up too badly!  

:: ::

I first posted a version of this diary in 2006

Is the Pony/Pie/Hide rating system too cutsie?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...


Skip to comment form

  1. Dave Granlund,, Buy this cartoon

    Tips and the like here.  Be generous too.  

  2. It’s my life theme song, LOL

    Make a promise, take a vow

    and trust your feelings, it’s easy now

    Understand the voice within

    And feel a change already beginning


    Each and every heart it seems

    is bounded by a world of dreams

    Each and every rising sun is greeted by a lonely one


    • Heather on February 6, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Too little patience to make a list.

    Heart wouldn’t be on it though. 🙂

  3. This is another favorite.  I am a funny boy — have nothing to do with music or the music industry .. but so good at finding and matching music to beliefs and ideas …

    • triv33 on February 6, 2010 at 3:19 am

    Temptation Eyes

    • TMC on February 6, 2010 at 3:23 am

    I can’t pick just but this is a good representation of my favorites

    This is just a start. I think I’d need my own blog for the rest

    • TMC on February 6, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Port-Au-Prince, Haiti

  4. So maybe I’ll just start with this one… 1978 is “classic,” right?

    • sharon on February 6, 2010 at 5:15 am

    seems only yesterday i was skanking around the dance floor.

  5. Play at my funeral please.

    If you wake up and don’t want to smile

    If it takes just a little while

    Open your eyes and look at the day

    You’ll see things in a different way


    Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

    Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here

    It’ll be better than before

    Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

    Why not think about times to come

    And not about the things that you’ve done

    If your life was bad to you

    Just think what tomorrow will do


    All I want is to see you smile

    If it takes just a little while

    I know you don’t believe that it’s true

    I never meant any harm to you

    {Refrain twice}

    Don’t you look back

    Don’t you look back

    • dkmich on February 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    but this is even better.  

    • Heather on February 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    I did almost three hours of youtubes last night. It was fun.

    This one favorite is for my mom who appreciated such words.

    Bonus rare Dylan smile!

  6. So, I’m going to choose a popular instrumental that

    scrambles my mind and takes me way back to youthful

    longing and innocence, right about the time of the Kennedy Nixon election. ***Theme from a Summer Place***

    But if it’s gotta be rock, then I have to go with the Doors, ***Light my Fire***  Quite a change in 10 years!!!

  7. It’s sort of like asking who’s your favorite woman? Or who’s your favorite man?  Or what’s your favorite book or your favorite movie?  There are too many possibilities.  You’d have to break it down into types or genres to have any hope of coming up with just one.

    Still, after thinking about it for a long time, and with a lot of caveats, I’ve managed to narrow mine down to five:

    “Got To Get You Into My Life” by the Beatles.

    “Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel.

    “I Can See For Miles” by the Who.

    “Summer In the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful.

    “Under My Thumb” by the Rolling Stones.

    “Walk on By” by Dionne Warwick.

    Well, it’s “a baker’s five”!  And it doesn’t include (a) many other nearly equally good songs by the same artists; (b) anything I liked equally well but considered “too jazzy” or “too folkie” or “too Laura Nyro” or “too Dan Hicks,” etc., etc., to quite qualify as classic rock; or (c) anything I just happened to forget while compiling the list.

    As you can probably tell from the list, my favorite year–a question I can answer–is 1966.  And 1967.  “A baker’s one”!  : )

    • Edger on February 7, 2010 at 1:22 am

    is this one…

  8. nope, no way to pick a favorite, but after all these years I find myself still listening to these 2 bands quite often.

    Kinda curious. Has anybody reading this ever even heard of them? Or is it just a midwestern thing?


    I think the line “Can you turn flesh to gold” has been answered already by the insurance companies.


    Always lifts me out of the dumps.


  9. ” Oh, Boy” by Buddy Hollie works, too.  

  10. probably Abbey Road…

    • RiaD on February 7, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    that’s just off the top of my head….

    i have about 2-3000 favorites on my ipod.

    over 2wks worth.

Comments have been disabled.