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100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs

From “Paint It Black” to “Shine a Light” – the hottest rocks from the Stones’ 50-year career, chosen by our expert panel of writers, critics and artists

The Rolling Stones

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To make the list, we asked each of these Stones experts to rank their 50 favorite songs, then tabulated the results.

The Panel: Patrick Carney (the Black Keys), Jonathan Cott (contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Cameron Crowe (director), Anthony DeCurtis (contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Jon Dolan (contributing editor, Rolling Stone), David Fricke (Senior Writer, Rolling Stone), Robert Greenfield (journalist and author), Will Hermes (contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Robert Hilburn (journalist and author), Howard Kramer (Director of Curatorial Affairs, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Chuck Leavell (musician), Jonathan Lethem (novelist), Martin Scorsese (director), Rob Sheffield (contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Lucinda Williams (singer-songwriter), Warren Zanes (the Del Fuegos)

The Rolling Stones

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29

“Start Me Up” (1981)

"Start Me Up" sat in the can for half a decade before the band got a version it liked. The song was originally a reggae tune recorded during the sessions for 1976's Black and Blue. It was reworked into a rocker at the Some Girls sessions, before finally landing on Tattoo You in 1981. "When they started playing it this time, it wasn't a reggae song, it was what we know today as the great 'Start Me Up,'" said engineer Chris Kimsey. "It was Keith's song; he just changed it." Richards' dirty riff and Jagger's smutty strut made it their biggest hit of the Eighties.

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28

“As Tears Go By” (1965)

When Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham practically locked Jagger and Richards in a kitchen and ordered them to start writing original material, Richards began picking guitar chords, and this melancholy ballad magically appeared. Richards says he and Jagger weren't initially knocked out by it – "We thought, 'What a terrible piece of tripe'" – but Oldham knew a hit when he heard it and cut a version with Jagger's girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull, which hit Number 22 on the U.S. charts in 1964. The Stones cut their own strings-drenched rendition the following year.