Best rock song of all time? It is in the ear of the beholder

The WDVE 500 Memorial Day returns this weekend for the fourth year since its 20-year hiatus. It starts at 10 am on Friday.

Back in the day, it was a good bet that Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” would feature in the lead. But a funny thing happened when the annual countdown to the 500 best rock songs of all time returned in 2019. Zeppelin’s perennial winner was knocked out at the top by Pink Floyd’s song “Another Brick in the Wall.” Some of the listeners were shocked and angry.

The reaction was understandable, but on reflection, with so many rock songs out there, wouldn’t it be reasonable to wonder why the same song should be the most popular year after year? (By the way, “Stairway to Heaven” took #1 again in 2020, only to be beaten back in 2021 by AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”)

Rock songs are as diverse as the fans who enjoy them. So it wasn’t surprising when Tribune-Review gathered six local rock ‘n’ roll stars to ask which songs they pick as their favorite songs and each song has a different response.

Scott Blasey, The Clarks

Blasey said some of his favorite rock songs are by artists like Elvis Costello and The Beatles. But when asked to narrow it down to one, he went with a musician who said he was a huge influence.

“I would have gone with something from ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. If I had to pick one, it would beDon’t do me like thisBlasey said. “Before that, I loved FM radio and AC/DC and Prince and all that stuff. But when I heard Don’t Do Me Like That, I was probably 14 or 15 and that was the song that changed the way I looked at rock And roll.

“It wasn’t hard rock like AC/DC. It wasn’t yacht rock, which I loved in the ’70s. It was melodic. It rocked—it’s just a great radio song—so, if I’m pressured, I have to agree to it because of its impact on my life and the way I listened.” It’s out for the music from there. It was a real watershed moment.”

Jimmy Ross, Jaggers

This wasn’t an easy task for Ross, who really loves the Rolling Stones and finds it nearly impossible to pick one of their songs as their favourite.

“I love the Stones. They are just such a fun band, and I can’t pick just one of their songs,” he said.

Finally, when he learned that the rules of this exercise required him to choose only one, he bowed.

“”Brown sugar“Because I just love the song,” Ross said. “We used to play years ago on stage. It’s just a great, fun dance song. I just love everything about the song – the chord changes, the lyrics – it’s all about the song that I just love. I think it’s a perfect melody.”

johnny angel, johnny angel and hallows

Angel received a very quick response when asked to choose his first ever rock song. But he said he had a hard time choosing between that and “wing: Judy Blue eyes. ”

“Of all the things I can think of, I absolutely love it”Carry on his prodigal son“From Kansas,” he said. “I love it, first of all, the Harmonies. Any group like them or Styx that has that super Harmony just lit me up. The way this recording starts out, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a solid rock song, it doesn’t look like it’s going there, and then all of a sudden. ..”

Angel cut to imitate the sound of hard rock guitar.

“You’ve got this buildup, you know? There are a lot of rock songs that you listen to and sing along to, or play with or whatever. But there aren’t a lot of songs that when you hear it, you stop and listen to the whole song. This one is when I hear it, I listen to it.” From start to finish. And it’s a long song.”

Mike Vale, Tommy James & Shondells (Crystal Blue Band)

Valli remembers when rock ‘n’ roll started, and for his first ever song, he chose the melody that started it all.

“I have to go with the first,”rock around the clock (By Bill Haley and His Comets),” said Val. “Otherwise, I’m not sure where the music is going.”

Valli noted that the song became the world’s first rock ‘n’ roll single.

“There are others that I like too,” he said, “but I can also choose the one who invented everything.” “It was (part of) a timeline fading from big band sound to mixed sound with heavy drum and heavy bass. It was that transitional period that introduced a whole new rhythm. Bill Haley wasn’t flabby. He had a great set.”

Chad Tyson, host of WDVE Afternoon Drive

Like many in this survey, Tyson had a hard time picking just one. But he was able to do this by selecting a song that is heard a lot on his classic rock station.

“You can’t go wrong with Lynyrd Skynyrd”Free birdBecause this is a popular song. If you’re in a band and ask the audience what they’re playing next, there’s likely to be at least one person who will shout “free bird.” “This isn’t true of many other classic rock tunes.”

Tyson especially appreciates the song when he hears it live.

“If you’ve ever been to a Skynyrd show and they’ve done it, it catches you, man. You’re only in that song for 15 minutes when you sing it live, and that’s just a creative recording,” he said. “It has a really interesting backlog. It starts out kind of slow, then it squishes towards the end, and it turns into a jam session.”

Michelle Michaels, midday hostess at WDVE

The WDVE Memorial Day 500 kicks off at Michaels’ show at 10 a.m. Friday, and it’s unlikely that her selection for Best Rock ‘n’ Roll will disappoint her fans. She said it was probably the most requested song of the past 30 years on her show. But her decision was based largely on the emotional connection she felt when she first heard it as a teenager.

“This is a very difficult decision. I really can’t narrow it down, but if you make me I’ll say it’s “Stairway to Heaven” of Zeppelin,” she said. “I was in high school. I was probably sixteen years old when I first heard “stairway to heaven”. I was sitting at a picnic table at a high school graduation party, and this song popped up and started with Jimmy Page guitar melody, and then there’s the harmonies of guitars and vocals, and then it builds and continues to build and build upon that tense conclusion.”

Michaels then describes what felt like an out-of-body experience.

“I had no idea at this point what my friends were telling me at this party,” she said. “I just plunged into this epic tune, and I don’t think any song affected me the first time I heard it like ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

“I have other favourites, but I have to agree to that.”

Paul Guggenheimer is a writer for the Tribune Review. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected]

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