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500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Rolling Stone’s definitive list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

By Jay-Z

A great song doesn’t attempt to be anything — it just is.

When you hear a great song, you can think of where you were when you first heard it, the sounds, the smells. It takes the emotions of a moment and holds it for years to come. It transcends time. A great song has all the key elements — melody; emotion; a strong statement that becomes part of the lexicon; and great production. Think of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” by Queen. That song had everything — different melodies, opera, R&B, rock — and it explored all of those different genres in an authentic way, where it felt natural.

When I’m writing a song that I know is going to work, it’s a feeling of euphoria. It’s how a basketball player must feel when he starts hitting every shot, when you’re in that zone. As soon as you start, you get that magic feeling, an extra feeling. Songs like that come out in five minutes; if I work on them more than, say, 20 minutes, they’re probably not going to work.

Read Jay-Z’s full essay here.


Jackie Wilson, ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’

Writers: Gary Jackson, Raynard Miner, Carl Smith
Carl Davis
Aug. '67, Brunswick
12 weeks; No. 6

At first, he sang it like a ballad. But Wilson hit the right gallop after producer Davis told him "to jump and go along with the percussion." Motown bassist James Jamerson played down below, along with several other moonlighting members of the Funk Brothers band.

Appears on: The Very Best of Jackie Wilson (Rhino)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Jackie Wilson

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Jackie Wilson


The Spencer Davis Group, ‘Gimme Some Lovin”

Writers: Davis, Steve Winwood, Muff Winwood
Jimmy Miller
Dec. '66, United Artists
13 weeks; No. 7

Teenage singer Steve Winwood provided the impossibly raw vocals. "Steve had been singing, 'Gimme some lovin',' just yelling anything," said bassist-brother Muff. "It took about an hour to write, then down the pub for lunch."

Appears on: Gimme Some Lovin' (Sundazed)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Steve Winwood


The B-52’s, ‘Love Shack’

Writers: Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, Cindy Wilson
Don Was, Nile Rodgers
June '89, Reprise
27 weeks; No. 3

The B-52's had few reasons to party in 1989: Guitarist Ricky Wilson had died; their previous album had flopped. But with production by dance-rock master Don Was, they slapped smiles and Dixie New Wave glitter all over this bouncing beauty.

Appears on: Cosmic Thing (Reprise)


Elton John, ‘Rocket Man’

Writers: John, Bernie Taupin
Gus Dudgeon
May '72, Uni
15 weeks; No. 6

A perfect song for the age of moonwalks, this star trek was the elegiac tale of an astronaut lost in space, light-years from home. Taupin wrote it on the way to visiting his own family. "I got inside," he said, "and had to rush to write it all down before I'd forgotten it." Taupin was accused of ripping off Bowie's "Space Oddity," but he was actually thinking of "Rocket Man," by acid-folkies Pearls Before Swine.

Appears on: Honky Chateau (Island)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Elton John

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Elton John


Sly and the Family Stone, ‘Stand!’

Writer: Sly Stone
April '69, Epic
8 weeks; No. 22

The title song from Stone's classic black-rock LP became a civil rights anthem. But when a test pressing got a muted reaction on San Francisco radio, Stone added the funky coda, played by what his A&R man Stephen Paley called "old-men horn players," since the Family was unavailable. "He wrote out parts for the horn players and even passed out W-4 forms," said Paley. "He was that together."

Appears on: Stand! (Sony)


500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand!


Dion, ‘The Wanderer’

Writer: Ernie Maresca
Gene Schwartz
Dec. '61, Laurie
18 weeks; No. 2

Dion DiMucci's trademark hit – originally the B side to a single called "The Majestic," until DJs began flipping the record over – was a swaggering shuffle about a real-life hard-ass who wore tattoos of his girlfriends' names on his arms. "You say to a chick, 'Stay away from that guy,' " Dion said in 1976, when "The Wanderer" was a Top 20 hit again in the U.K. "And she would say, 'What guy?' Chicks loved a rebel."

Appears on: Runaround Sue (Capitol)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Dion


Dusty Springfield, ‘Son of a Preacher Man’

Writers: John Hurley, Ronnie Wilkins
Jerry Wexler
Nov. '68, Atlantic
12 weeks; No. 10

Springfield was white and English but sang as if born with black American soul. In 1968, newly signed to Atlantic and under the tutelage of its star producer Wexler, she went to the mecca of Dixie R&B to record the gospel-tinged Dusty in Memphis. She ended up doing her vocals in New York, but no matter: Her deep, heated voice captured the carnal fire of the South

Appears on: Dusty in Memphis (Rhino)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Dusty Springfield


Patsy Cline, ‘I Fall to Pieces’

Writer: Hank Cochran
Owen Bradley
Jan. '61, Decca
20 weeks; No. 12

Cline was reluctant to record this ballad, which had been turned down by Brenda Lee, until Bradley coaxed her into it. Seven months pregnant when she cut it, Cline belted the ending the first time through, but the magic happened when she dropped to her lower register on her second try.

Appears on: 12 Greatest Hits (MCA)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Patsy Cline


Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, ‘Planet Rock’

Writers: Bambaataa, John Robie, the Soul Sonic Force
Bambaataa, Arthur Baker
July '82, Tommy Boy
11 weeks; No. 48

"Can you play stuff like Kraftwerk?" asked Bam, who played their records at DJ gigs. Baker worried about stealing the melody from "Trans-Europe Express," but Robie said, "I'll tear that shit up."

Appears on: Looking for the Perfect Beat 1980-1985 (Tommy Boy)


Ray Charles, ‘I Got a Woman’

Writers: Charles, Renald Richard
Jerry Wexler
Nov. '54, ABC-Parliament
Predates chart

Charles was riding through Indiana one night in 1954 with his musical director Richard when they began singing along to a gospel tune on the radio. "Ray sang something like, 'I got a woman,'" said Richard. "I answered, 'Yeah, she lives across town.'" He finished the song the next day, and Charles cut it at an Atlanta radio station – a session now recognized as the birth of soul.

Appears on: Atlantic Singles (Rhino)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Ray Charles

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Ray Charles


Buddy Holly and the Crickets, ‘Everyday’

Writers: Charles Hardin, Norman Petty
Sept. '57, Coral a
Did not chart

The flip side to "Peggy Sue," "Everyday" features the celesta, a keyboard with a glockenspiel-like tone that Petty kept in his New Mexico studio. The percussion is drummer Jerry Allison keeping time by slapping his knees. For legal reasons, Holly changed his songwriting credit to Charles Hardin, his real first and middle names.

Appears on: Best of Buddy Holly (Universal)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Buddy Holly

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Buddy Holly


The Byrds, ‘I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better’

Writer: Gene Clark
Terry Melcher
June '65, Columbia
Did not chart

The Byrds championed the songs of Bob Dylan, who in turn praised the exotic balladry of Byrd Gene Clark. "I remember him saying, 'Gene is really interesting to me,'" said bassist Chris Hillman. Clark wrote this about a girlfriend from their days at the L.A. club Ciro's. "She was a funny girl, and she started bothering me," he said. "I wrote the whole song within a few minutes."

Appears on: Mr. Tambourine Man (Columbia)


M.I.A., ‘Paper Planes’

Writers: M.I.A., Diplo
Diplo, Switch
August '07, Interscope
21 weeks; No. 4

Maya Arulpragasam cheerfully threatens to steal your money, over a sample of the Clash's "Straight to Hell." The unlikely hit took off thanks to its inclusion in the Pineapple Express trailer. "The other songs on the chart were Katy Perry and the Jonas Brothers," says M.I.A. "Then you saw 'Paper Planes' and it's cool because there's hope: 'Thank God the future's here.'"

Appears on: Kala (Interscope)


The Animals, ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’

Writers: Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil
Mickie Most
Aug. ’65, MGM
11 weeks; No. 13

Born in the Brill Building song factory and originally intended for the Righteous Brothers, it got a harsh white-blues treatment from the Animals. As singer Eric Burdon put it, “Whatever suited our attitude, we just bent to our own shape.” Its desperate intensity made the song a huge hit with U.S. soldiers in Vietnam and, a generation later, coalition forces in Iraq.

Appears on: Retrospective (ABKCO)


Roy Orbison, ‘Only the Lonely’

Writers: Joe Melson, Orbison
Fred Foster
May '60, Monument
21 weeks; No. 2

Orbison intended to offer this song to either Elvis Presley (also a Sun Records alumnus) or the Everly Brothers, who had cut the Orbison song "Claudette." But Orbison's falsetto made the loneliness real. "For a baritone to sing as high as I do," he said, "is ridiculous."

Appears on: For the Lonely: 18 Greatest Hits (Rhino)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Roy Orbison

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Roy Orbison


Marvin Gaye, ‘Sexual Healing’

Writers: Gaye, Odell Brown, David Ritz
Oct. '82, Columbia
21 weeks; No. 3

In April 1982 Gaye was living in exile in Brussels and suffering writer's block. "I suggested that Marvin needed sexual healing," Ritz, his biographer, later wrote. Gaye put the idea to a reggae-style beat by sideman Brown. The result: Gaye's last Top Five hit.

Appears on: Midnight Love (Columbia)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Marvin Gaye

100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Marvin Gaye


Bob Dylan, ‘Just Like a Woman’

Writer: Dylan
Bob Johnston
May '66, Columbia
6 weeks; No. 33

Dylan wrote this on Thanksgiving Day 1965 – three days after marrying Sara Lowndes – while on tour in Kansas City. His nonstop creative rush was taking a big toll. "I don't consider myself outside of anything," he said at the time. "I just consider myself not around." He turned his torment into this song, allegedly inspired by his recently ended affair with doomed Andy Warhol starlet Edie Sedgwick.

Appears on: Blonde on Blonde (Columbia)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Bob Dylan

100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Bob Dylan


Van Morrison, ‘Moondance’

Writer: Morrison
Producer: Morrison
Released: Feb. '70, Warner Bros.
4 weeks; No. 92

The title song of Morrison's first self-produced album started "as a saxophone solo," he said. "I used to play this sax number over and over, anytime I picked up my horn." He played the sax solo on this recording, which combined the bucolic charm of his life in Woodstock, New York ("the cover of October skies"), with his love of the sophisticated jazz and R&B of Mose Allison and Ray Charles.

Appears on: Moondance (Warner Bros.)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Van Morrison

100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Van Morrison


Muddy Waters, ‘Mannish Boy’

Writers: McKinley Morganfield, Mel London, Ellas McDaniel
Leonard and Phil Chess, Willie Dixon
May '55, Chess
Did not chart

After Waters heard Bo Diddley audition "I'm a Man" for Chess, he replied with "Mannish Boy." (Diddley got a credit as McDaniel, his real name.) Both songs were issued in 1955 and shot into the R&B Top 10. "When I heard him, I realized the connection between all the music I heard," Keith Richards said of Waters. "He was like the code book."

Appears on: The Anthology (MCA/Chess)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Muddy Waters

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Muddy Waters

500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Muddy Waters’ The Anthology


Chic, ‘Good Times’

Writers: Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards
Rodgers, Edwards
June '79, Atlantic
19 weeks; No. 1

The tone was half-ironic when Chic released "Good Times," a hedonistic roller-disco tune, during the Seventies recession. The other half was pure joy, and Edwards' bass line – bouncing on one note, then climbing – proved too snappy for just one song. Queen borrowed it for "Another One Bites the Dust"; in the South Bronx, the Sugarhill Gang put it under "Rapper's Delight."

Appears on: Risqué (Atlantic)


The Clash, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’

Writers: The Clash
Glyn Johns
May '82, Epic
13 weeks; No. 45

"My main influences," Mick Jones said, "are Mott the Hoople, the Kinks and the Stones" – which explains this choppy riff. Jones yells "Split!" because Joe Strummer snuck up behind him while he was recording his vocals. The chorus hints at the band's end: At the time, "none of us were really talking to each other," said Paul Simonon. The original four were soon no more.

Appears on: Combat Rock (Sony)


James Taylor, ‘Fire and Rain’

Writer: Taylor
Peter Asher
Feb. '70, Warner Bros.
16 weeks; No. 3

Taylor wrote the three verses of this song in three phases following the breakup of his band the Flying Machine. The first came in a London flat while he was signed to the Apple label, the second in a New York hospital as he kicked heroin and the third during a stay in a Massachusetts psychiatric facility. "It's like three samplings of what I went through," he said.

Appears on: Sweet Baby James (Warner Bros.)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: James Taylor

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: James Taylor


Muddy Waters, ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’

Writer: Willie Dixon
Leonard and Phil Chess, Dixon
Jan. '54, Chess
Did not chart

Waters tested this out at the Chicago blues club Zanzibar. Dixon gave him some advice: "Well, just get a little rhythm pattern," he said. "Do the same thing over again, y'know." Waters cut it a couple of weeks later, with Dixon on bass.

Appears on: The Anthology (Chess/MCA)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Muddy Waters

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Muddy Waters

500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Muddy Waters’ The Anthology


Sly and the Family Stone, ‘Dance to the Music’

Writer: Sylvester Stewart (Sly Stone)
Jan. '68, Epic
15 weeks; No. 8

Saxman Jerry Martini claims Stone did this song just to satisfy CBS executives' desire for a hit. "He hated it," Martini said. "It was so unhip to us. The beats were glorified Motown beats." But "Dance" fit Stone's vision for the band: "I wanted everyone to get a chance to sweat."

Appears on: Dance to the Music (Sony)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Sly and the Family Stone


Roy Orbison, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’

Writers: Orbison, Billy Dees
Wesley Rose
Aug. '64, Monument
15 weeks; No. 1

Orbison told Dees to "get started writing by playing anything that comes to mind….My wife came in and wanted to go to town to get something." Orbison asked if she needed money. Dees then cracked, "Pretty woman never needs any money." The rest was easy.

Appears on: For the Lonely: 18 Greatest Hits (Rhino)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Roy Orbison

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Roy Orbison


Lou Reed, ‘Walk on the Wild Side’

Writer: Reed
David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Reed
Dec. '72, RCA
14 weeks; No. 16

Reed was asked to write songs for a musical based on the novel A Walk on the Wild Side. The show fizzled, but Reed kept the title. "I thought it would be fun to introduce people you see at parties but don't dare approach," he said.

Appears on: Transformer (RCA)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Lou Reed

100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Lou Reed


The Left Banke, ‘Walk Away Renee’

Writers: Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, Tony Sansone
Harry Lookofsky
Sept. '66, Smash
13 weeks; No. 5

In 1965, Brown was a 16-year-old keyboard prodigy with a crush on a bandmate's girlfriend – bassist Tom Finn had introduced Renee Fladen to the group. Brown wrote three songs about her, including "Walk Away Renee." He quit the Left Banke before they finished recording "Renee" but returned after the song became a hit a year later.

Appears on: There's Gonna Be a Storm (Mercury)


Howlin’ Wolf, ‘Spoonful’

Writer: Willie Dixon
Producers: Leonard and Phil Chess
June '60, Chess
Did not chart

Chess do-it-all Dixon wrote "Spoonful" for Howlin' Wolf in 1960. "It doesn't take a large quantity of anything to be good," explained Dixon. The Wolf, however, did not cheat on the heavy manners when he devoured the song in the studio with his mad-animal growl. What's more, he often performed the song – later covered by Cream – waving a large cooking spoon in front of his genitalia.

Appears on: Anniversary Collection (Chess)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Howlin’ Wolf

100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Howlin’ Wolf


John Lee Hooker, ‘Boom Boom’

Writer: Hooker
Calvin Carter
Feb. '62, Vee-Jay
10 weeks; No. 60

Keith Richards said of Hooker, "Even Muddy Waters was sophisticated next to him." That was a compliment. With his gruff voice, the Hook put boogie to the blues, inspiring a generation of British blues acts, including the Animals, who covered this song to great effect. "Boom-boom," by the way, came from an affectionate greeting offered to Hooker by a female bartender in Detroit.

Appears on: The Very Best of John Lee Hooker (Rhino)


Dolly Parton, ‘Jolene’

Writer: Parton
Bob Ferguson
Jan. '74, RCA
8 weeks; No. 60

When Parton recorded "Jolene" in 1974, she was chiefly known as Porter Wagoner's TV partner, although she had written the hit "Coat of Many Colors." "Jolene" showed how she could put her stamp on traditional country, buffing an old-time-y groove and belting a tale of romantic rivalry. It became a Number One country single and has been covered with extra menace by the White Stripes.

Appears on: Jolene (Buddha/BMG)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Dolly Parton


The Lovin’ Spoonful, ‘Do You Believe in Magic’

Writer: John Sebastian
Erik Jacobsen
July '65, Kama Sutra
13 weeks; No. 9

The first single by the Lovin' Spoonful went Top 10 and, in a sense, never went away. While rehearsing the song, Sebastian affixed a contact mike to his autoharp, and in combination with Zal Yanovsky's electric guitar, they hit on a unique sound. Sebastian said "Magic" was rooted in "the chord progressions coming out of Motown at the time."

Appears on: Do You Believe in Magic (Buddha)


Hank Williams, ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’

Writers: Williams, Fred Rose
Jan. '53, MGM
Predates pop charts

Legend has it that this song came to Williams when he was thinking about his first wife while driving around with his second; she wrote down the lyrics for him in the passenger seat. After polishing it with Rose, Williams recorded "Your Cheatin' Heart" during the last sessions he ever did, on September 23rd, 1952. He told a friend, "It's the best heart song I ever wrote."

Appears on: The Ultimate Collection (Mercury Nashville)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Hank Williams

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Hank Williams


Neil Young, ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’

Writer: Young
Niko Bolas, Young
Oct. '89, Reprise

"Don't feel like Satan/But I am to them," Young spat in this raucously ambivalent song about the pride and guilt of being an American. It was inspired by a remark from a member of Crazy Horse, who said gigs were safer in Europe than in the Middle East: "It's better to keep rockin' in the free world." "It was such a cliché," Young said. "I knew I had to use it."

Appears on: Freedom (Reprise)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Neil Young

100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Neil Young


Prince, ‘1999’

Writer: Prince
Oct. '82, Warner Bros.
27 weeks; No. 12

When Prince recorded 1999, he would go all day and all night without rest and turn down food since he felt eating would make him sleepy. The opening verse was originally recorded in three-part harmony; Prince split up the vocals, and the harmony parts became a new, odd melody. The single's first release didn't make the Top 40, but Prince put it out again after "Little Red Corvette," and it was finally a hit.

Appears on: 1999 (Warner Bros.)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Prince

100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Prince


The Beach Boys, ‘Caroline, No’

Writers: Brian Wilson, Tony Asher
March '66, Capitol
7 weeks; No. 32

Wilson ditched the other Beach Boys and used studio pros like "Be My Baby" drummer Hal Blaine on what was initially released as Brian's first solo single. It was largely the result of a misheard lyric. Wilson told Asher about a girl he'd liked in high school named Carol, and Asher responded with "Oh, Carol, I know." But Wilson heard it as "Caroline, no" and dashed off the rest of the song while stoned.

Appears on: Pet Sounds (Capitol)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: The Beach Boys


? and the Mysterians, ’96 Tears’

Writer: Rudy Martinez
Sept. '66, Pa-Go-Go
15 weeks; No. 1

The band, all Mexican-Americans living in Michigan, cut "96 Tears" in their manager's living room, and ? promoted the single throughout the state, all without ever revealing his real name (Rudy Martinez) or removing his sunglasses. That organ figure put the Farfisa company on the map (? later claimed they had used a Vox). The original has never been released on CD; all the CD versions are rerecordings.

Appears on: More Action (Cavestomp)


The Beach Boys, ‘In My Room’

Writers: Brian Wilson, Gary Usher
Sept. '63, Capitol
11 weeks; No. 23

"Brian was always saying that his room was his whole world," said Usher, who wrote the lyrics based on Wilson's idea. The three-part harmony on the first verse that Wilson sang with his brothers Carl and Dennis recalled the vocal bits that Brian taught them when they shared a childhood bedroom. As the Beatles had done with some hits, the Boys cut a version in German.

Appears on: Surfer Girl/Shut Down, Volume 2 (Capitol)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: The Beach Boys


Them, ‘Gloria’

Writer: Van Morrison
Tommy Scott
Released: March '65, Parrot

1 week; No. 95

When Morrison wrote his first hit, "Gloria," he was just another hungry young rocker, with the Belfast garage band Them. "I was just being me, a street cat from Belfast," Morrison said. "Probably like thousands of kids from Belfast who were in bands." A Chicago group called Shadows of Knight hit with a more cautious version in 1966; Morrison later complained that "Gloria" was "capitalized on a lot."

Appears on: The Story of Them (Polydor)


The Everly Brothers, ‘Bye Bye Love’

Writers: Boudleaux and Felice Bryant
Archie Bleyer
May '57, Cadence
27 weeks; No. 2

 "Bye Bye Love" had been turned down by 30 artists before Bleyer offered it to the Everlys for their first single. Phil and Don took it happily, if for no other reason than the $64 they would each earn for making it. The guitar intro was borrowed from a song Don had written called "Give Me a Future."

Appears on: All-Time Original Hits (Rhino)


The Four Tops, ‘Reach Out, I’ll Be There’

Writers: Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland
Holland, Dozier, Holland
Aug. '66, Motown
15 weeks; No. 1

 HDH pumped out Tops hits at a breakneck pace. "They were over so fast I can't remember them at all," said Dozier. Phil Spector called "Reach Out, I'll Be There," their second Number One, "black Dylan."

Appears on: The Ultimate Collection (Motown)


Bill Withers, ‘Lean on Me’

Writer: Withers
June '72, Sussex
19 weeks; No. 1

Growing up as one of six kids in the coal-mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, Withers learned a lot about helping family and neighbors when they needed you. After a dislocating move to L.A., the bonds he built with co-workers manufacturing airplane toilets reminded him of the tightknit community he'd left back home, providing the inspiration for the plain-spoken "Lean on Me," his biggest hit.

Appears on: Lean on Me (Sony)


Otis Redding, ‘Try a Little Tenderness’

Writers: Jimmy Campbell, Reginald Connelly, Harry Woods
Steve Cropper, Jim Stewart
Dec. '66, Stax
10 weeks; No. 25

On his own, drummer Al Jackson Jr. switched to double-time on the second verse, for the high-energy climax. "We didn't know he was gonna do that," said bassist Duck Dunn. "It was amazing."

Appears on: Very Best of Otis Redding (Rhino)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Otis Redding


Bob Dylan, ‘Positively 4th Street’

Writer: Dylan
Producer: Bob Johnston
Released: Sept. '65, Columbia
9 weeks; No. 7

In whose direction did Dylan aim this? Most likely, "4th Street," the follow-up to "Like a Rolling Stone," is about the people he met in Greenwich Village (when he lived on West 4th) and on fraternity row at the University of Minnesota (on 4th Street in Minneapolis).

Appears on: The Essential Bob Dylan (Sony)


100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Bob Dylan

100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Bob Dylan


The Beatles, ‘Come Together’

Writers: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Producer: George Martin
Released: Sept. '69, Apple
16 weeks; No. 1

Timothy Leary was running for governor of California and asked Lennon to write a campaign song for him. The tune was not politically useful, so Lennon brought it to the Abbey Road sessions. "I said, 'Let's slow it down with a swampy bass-and-drums vibe,'" said McCartney. "I came up with a bass line, and it all flowed from there." It was the last song all four Beatles cut together.

Appears on: Abbey Road (Apple)


New Order, ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’

Writers: Bernard Albrecht, Gillian Gilbert, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris
Producers: New Order
Released: Oct. '86, Qwest
2 weeks; No. 98

After the death of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, his band became New Order. "There's life, and there's death," drummer Morris said in 1983. "We were still alive, so we thought we'd carry on doing it." New Order wrote their synth-pop hits in a Manchester rehearsal room next to a cemetery. Said Morris, "Fate writes the lyrics, and we do the rest."

Appears on: Substance (Qwest)


500 Greatest Albums of All Time: New Order's Substance


Beck, ‘Loser’

Writer: Beck Hansen
Producer: Karl Stephenson
Released: 1993, Bong Load   
24 weeks; No. 10

In 1992, 22-year-old Beck Hansen was scraping by as a video-store clerk while performing bizarro folk songs at L.A. coffeehouses. After friends offered to record some songs, Beck cut "Loser" in his producer's kitchen. It became the centerpiece of an album (1994's Mellow Gold) that cost $200 to make.

Appears on: Mellow Gold (Geffen)


Parliament, ‘Flash Light’

Writers: George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins
Producer: Clinton
Released: Dec. '77, Casablanca
16 weeks; No. 16

"Flash Light" is the P-Funk Nation's groove manifesto. "We're going to get the message out," Clinton declared in 1978. "We want to put the show on Broadway – tell the story straightforward so people understand that funk mean funk."

Appears on: Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (Mercury)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Parliament and Funkedelic


The Jimi Hendrix Experience, ‘Hey Joe’

Writer: William Roberts
Producer: Chas Chandler
Released: Dec. '66, Reprise
Did not chart

Thismurder ballad was the Experience's first single, recorded two weeks after their live debut. Hendrix was so shy about his voice that manager Chandler even hired a female vocal group, the Breakaways, for backup. The song had already been recorded by the Byrds, Love, the Standells and many other bands, but Hendrix learned it from folkie Tim Rose's version.

Appears on: Are You Experienced? (MCA)


100 Greatest Artists of All Time: Jimi Hendrix

100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Jimi Hendrix

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