Eric is a University of Miami alum. He's a movie aficionado, music enthusiast, wannabe guitarist, and part-time philosopher.
Welcome to My List of the Top 100 Songs Ever Recorded
After three years away, I have finally updated the list, and my totally biased opinion is that it’s better than ever! I’ve not only updated the rankings, but I have also included a commentary for each song.
And that’s not all. For every song, I have also provided five recommendations for similar songs you may enjoy. (Yep: 500 additional songs). This allowed me give due to artists and genres that are worth mention while still keeping my list at an even 100 songs.
#100 - "Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve
Appears on: 'Urban Hymns' (1997)
Written by: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Richard Ashcroft
Produced by: Martin "Youth" Glover, The Verve
The alternative revolution was an important one, and I wanted Britpop—England's reaction to American grunge—to be represented on the list. Hard to go wrong with "Bitter Sweet Symphony," right?
The Stone Roses - "She Bangs the Drums" (1989)
Suede [UK] / The London Suede [US] - "Animal Nitrate" (1993)
Blur - "Girls & Boys" (1994)
Oasis - "Live Forever" (1994)
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The Verve - "Sonnet" (1997)
#99: "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield
Genre: Folk Rock
Written by: Stephen Stills
Before Neil Young was on his own (and, briefly, in CSNY), he played in Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills. This protest song is their most lasting cut.
Crosby, Stills & Nash - "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" (1969)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - "Ohio" (1970)
Neil Young - "Heart of Gold" (1972)
Neil Young - "Cortez the Killer" (1975)
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" (1979)
#98 "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor
Appears on: 'Sweet Baby James' (1970)
Genre: Folk Rock
Label: Warner Bros.
Written by: James Taylor
Produced by: Peter Asher
This song is so good. It pretty much defines James Taylor, though that isn't necessarily a good thing. Meanwhile, none other than Carole King plays the piano on the recording; she worked as a songwriter/session musician before hitting it big with her 'Tapestry' album in '71.
Joni Mitchell - "Both Sides, Now" (1969)
Carole King - "I Feel the Earth Move" (1971)
Carole King - "It's Too Late" (1971)
Joni Mitchell - "All I Want" (1971)
Tracy Chapman - "Fast Car" (1988)
#97: "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele
Appears on: '21' (2011)
Label: XL [UK] / Columbia [US]
Written by: Adele, Paul Epworth
Produced by: Paul Epworth
Adele is already considered something of a generational figure to us Millennials, and I am confident that years from now both "Rolling in the Deep" and her diamond-selling album '21' will be considered once-in-a-generation phenomena, like Nirvana's 'Nevermind' and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" were for Generation X.
Adele - "Chasing Pavements" (2008)
Adele - "Hometown Glory" (2008)
Adele - "Lovesong" (2011)
Adele - "Rumour Has It" (2011)
Adele - "Someone Like You" (2011)
#96 "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets
Genre: Rock & Roll
Written by: Max C. Freedman, James E. Myers
Produced by: Milt Gabler
There were three candidates for the birth-of-rock-and-roll slot: "Rock Around the Clock" and two Elvis Presley cuts from his Sun Records tenure, “That’s All Right” and “Mystery Train.” In the end I picked this one, since Elvis has other appearances later on the list and, relatively speaking, “That’s All Right” and “Mystery Train” aren’t as good as his later material, even if they—especially “That’s All Right” -- were crucial.
Hank Williams - "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (1949)
Muddy Waters - "Rollin' Stone" (1950)
Elvis Presley - "That's All Right" (1954)
Elvis Presley - "Mystery Train" (1955)
Johnny Cash - "I Walk the Line" (1956)
#95: "Midnight in a Perfect World" by DJ Shadow
Appears on: 'Endtroducing...' (1996)
Label: Mo' Wax
Written by: Josh Davis, Baraka, Pekka Pohjola
Produced by: DJ Shadow
'Endtroducing...,' the album on which "Midnight" appears, is considered a breakthrough in popular music, as it was created entirely from samples stitched together in a finely textured and complex 63-minute narrative. Most of its tracks are too unwieldy for such a list as this one, but "Midnight in a Perfect World" is a -- indeed, perhaps the -- glorious exception.
DJ Shadow - "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt" (1996)
DJ Shadow - "Changeling" (1996)
DJ Shadow - "Napalm Brain / Scatter Brain" (1996)
DJ Shadow - "Stem / Long Stem" (1996)
DJ Shadow - "What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 1 - Blue Sky Revisit)" (1996)
#94 "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits
Appears on: 'Dire Straits' (1978)
Genre: Roots Rock
Written by: Mark Knopfler
Produced by: Muff Winwood
There were three songs on this list that I simply couldn’t part with because they’re just too good, and this is one of them. A lot of the entries on my list can probably be filed under “classic rock,” but only this one marries the slick fingerpicking of guitarist Mark Knopfler with the impeccable production of the Dire Straits.
Steely Dan - "Reelin' in the Years" (1972)
Steely Dan - "Show Biz Kids" (1973)
Steely Dan - "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (1974)
Dire Straits - "Southbound Again" (1978)
Dire Straits - "Money for Nothing" (1985)
#93 "California Dreamin'" by The Mamas and the Papas
Appears on: 'If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears' (1966)
Written by: John Phillips, Michelle Phillips
Produced by: Lou Adler
Any kid who grew up on the East Coast can relate to this one. Something that I didn’t notice until a friend pointed it out (though it’s kind of hidden in plain sight): when the Mamas repeat each line during the verses, they’re actually singing an entirely different melody; they don’t harmonize with the Papas except sporadically during the chorus. It’s what gives the song its driving momentum.
The Byrds - "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" (1965)
The Byrds - "Mr. Tambourine Man" (1965)
The Byrds - "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (1965)
The Mamas and the Papas - "Monday, Monday" (1966)
The Byrds - "Hickory Wind" (1968)
#92 "Lose Yourself" by Eminem
Appears on: '8 Mile' [Soundtrack] (2002)
Written by: Marshall Mathers, Luis Resto, Jeff Bass
Produced by: Eminem, Jeff Bass
I remember this one quite well. It caught fire instantly, topping the charts across the globe within weeks, and it’s still a blast to listen to even now. Excessive overplay has rendered “Lose Yourself” somewhat trite, to put it mildly, but I remain bullish on its greatness -- listening to it for the first time in a while always gets the adrenaline pumping all over again.
Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Doggy Dogg - "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" (1992)
Snoop Doggy Dogg - "Gin and Juice" (1993)
2Pac feat. Dr. Dre - "California Love" (1995)
Eminem - "Stan" (2000)
OutKast - "Hey Ya!" (2003)
#91 "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2
Appears on: 'The Joshua Tree' (1987)
Written by: U2
Produced by: Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois
There isn’t a single weak track—or even a song that falls short of pretty great—on 'The Joshua Tree,' so just picking one cut from it was tough. A good case can be made for any of the first three tracks, but personally, I have always been partial to this one.
U2 - "I Will Follow" (1980)
U2 - "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (1983)
U2 - "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (1984)
U2 - "Where the Streets Have No Name" (1987)
U2 - "With Or Without You" (1987)
#90 "Baba O'Riley" by The Who
Appears on: 'Who's Next' (1971)
Label: Decca [US] / Polydor [UK]
Written by: Pete Townshend
Produced by: The Who, Glyn Johns
This is another album slot. I used to have both “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from 'Who’s Next' on here, but I only had room for one, and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” got the boot.
The Who - "Behind Blue Eyes" (1971)
The Who - "Won't Get Fooled Again" (1971)
The Who - "Love, Reign O'er Me" (1973)
The Who - "Who Are You?" (1978)
The Who - "Eminence Front" (1981)
#89: "Everything in its Right Place" by Radiohead
Appears on: 'Kid A' (2000)
Label: Capitol [US] / Parlophone [UK]
Written by: Radiohead
Produced by: Nigel Godrich, Radiohead
Radiohead is obviously very popular and highly acclaimed, so I felt like they should be represented. After surveying their catalog, I settled on “Everything in Its Right Place” from 'Kid A.' It was never released as a single—no singles were released from 'Kid A,' actually—but, in addition to being killer good, the song showcases the band at its most ambitiously experimental, as they fully absorb electronica into their alt-rock repertoire.
Radiohead - "Creep" (1993)
Radiohead - "Fake Plastic Trees" (1995)
Radiohead - "Paranoid Android" (1997)
Radiohead - "Pyramid Song" (2001)
Radiohead - "There There" (2003)
#88: "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Appears on: 'Full Moon Fever' (1989)
Genre: Heartland Rock
Written by: Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne
Produced by: Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Mike Campbell
You’ve all heard the song countless times, I’m sure. It’s the best pure acoustic rock song of the past 25 years, plain and simple.
Bob Seger - "Night Moves" (1976)
Steve Miller Band - "Rock'n Me" (1976)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - "American Girl" (1976)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - "Refugee" (1979)
Tom Petty - "Runnin' Down a Dream" (1989)
#87: "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by the Rolling Stones
Appears on: 'Let It Bleed' (1969)
Label: Decca [UK] / London [US]
Written by: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards
Produced by: Jimmy Miller
John Lennon accused this song of being the Stones’ answer to “Hey Jude,” but whether or not that’s true, it’s still a pretty damn awesome song. This song is one of the definitive album closers, for sure, and one of the few times the Stones stretch a song past seven minutes.
The Rolling Stones - "Brown Sugar" (1971)
The Rolling Stones - "Tumbling Dice" (1972)
The Rolling Stones - "Miss You" (1978)
The Rolling Stones - "Beast of Burden" (1978)
The Rolling Stones - "Start Me Up" (1981)
#86: "Paid in Full" by Eric B. & Rakim
Appears on: 'Paid in Full' (1987)
Label: 4th & B'way
Written by: Eric Barrier, Rakim Allah
Produced by: Eric B. & Rakim
Before Randy Moss enlightened the world to the phrase “straight cash, homie,” turntablist Eric B. and master of the mic Rakim cut this title track of their debut record. Featuring what would become hip-hop’s most distinctive loop as its beat and the vocal stylings of rap’s greatest MC, this is a song everyone can enjoy.
EPMD - "Strictly Business" (1988)
Eric B. & Rakim - "Microphone Fiend" (1988)
Slick Rick - "Children's Story" (1988)
De La Soul - "Me Myself And I" (1989)
A Tribe Called Quest - "Award Tour" (1993)
#85: "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac
Appears on: 'Rumours' (1977)
Label: Warner Bros.
Written by: Lindsey Buckingham
Produced by: Fleetwood Mac, Richard Dashut, Ken Caillat
Anyone who has heard 'Rumours' knows that record is loaded with great songs, but when it comes to choosing one for greatest songs lists, “Go Your Own Way” always gets picked because it has that kind of feel to it. It’s certainly not my favorite song on the album—which is “Dreams,” incidentally—or even the best—which is probably “Gold Dust Woman”—yet those songs just don’t fit on this list.
Fleetwood Mac - "Rhiannon" (1975)
Fleetwood Mac - "Dreams" (1977)
Fleetwood Mac - "Gold Dust Woman" (1977)
Fleetwood Mac - "Sara" (1979)
Stevie Nicks - "Edge of Seventeen" (1981)
#84: "California Girls" by The Beach Boys
Appears on: 'Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)' (1965)
Written by: Brian Wilson, Mike Love
Produced by: Brian Wilson
Listen carefully to “California Girls” and you’ll hear the roots of their seminal album 'Pet Sounds,' released the following year. Lyrically, it’s a little more in line with their pre-'Pet Sounds' work, which makes sense. But then again, “I wish they all could be California Girls” isn’t all that different from, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were married,” now is it?
Dick Dale - "Misirlou" (1962)
The Beach Boys - "In My Room" (1963)
The Beach Boys - "Surfin' U.S.A." (1963)
The Beach Boys - "Don't Worry Baby" (1964)
The Beach Boys - "I Get Around" (1964)
#83: "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
#83: "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
Appears on: 'Appetite for Destruction' (1987)
Genre: Glam Metal
Written by: Guns N' Roses
Produced by: Mike Clink
There aren't really any standout metal tracks from the '80s aside from this one, and the production for 'Appetite for Destruction'—which actually doesn't sound very '80s, relatively —kind of sounds the most like a grunge precursor, so its popularity makes sense in retrospect. Pop/hair metal was in, but GNR weren't cheesy. They were just plain nasty and didn't fit into that crowd... and yet the album sold 28 million copies anyway.
Iron Maiden - "Hallowed Be Thy Name" (1982)
Metallica - "Fade to Black" (1984)
Guns N' Roses - "Welcome to the Jungle" (1987)
Guns N' Roses - "November Rain" (1991)
Metallica - "Nothing Else Matters" (1991)
#82: "Good Golly Miss Molly" by Little Richard
Appears on: 'Little Richard' (1958)
Genre: Rock & Roll
Written by: John Marascalco, Robert "Bumps" Blackwell
Produced by: Robert "Bumps" Blackwell
I’m swapping in “Good Golly Miss Molly” for “Tutti Frutti,” which used to make the list but is more a song with great moments—namely, the killer intro/outro—than a great song. (I like “GGMM” more. Simple as that.) Early rock & roll doesn’t get much better than this.
Little Richard - "Tutti Frutti" (1955)
Carl Perkins - "Blue Suede Shoes" (1956)
Little Richard - "Long Tall Sally" (1956)
Jerry Lee Lewis - "Great Balls of Fire" (1957)
Jerry Lee Lewis - "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (1957)
#81: "Heroes" by David Bowie
Appears on: 'Heroes' (1977)
Written by: David Bowie, Brian Eno
Produced by: David Bowie, Tony Visconti
I only had room for one Bowie song—he’s more expressive in the album format—so of course I picked “Heroes.” I have a lot of favorite Bowie songs though; he’s got an amazing body of work.
David Bowie - "Space Oddity" (1969)
David Bowie - "Changes" (1971)
David Bowie - "Ziggy Stardust" (1972)
David Bowie - "Rebel Rebel" (1974)
Queen & David Bowie - "Under Pressure" (1981)
#80: "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Appears on: 'Bayou Country' (1969)
Genre: Roots Rock
Written by: John Fogerty
Produced by: John Fogerty
CCR has so many good ones, but "Proud Mary" is probably the most timeless of their many hits. "Fortunate Son" has more artistic merit, but "Proud Mary" has collected more cultural capital—for one thing, it gets sung/butchered during the audition episodes of 'American Idol' every year, for better or worse.
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Bad Moon Rising" (1969)
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Born on the Bayou" (1969)
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Down on the Corner" (1969)
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Green River" (1969)
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Lodi" (1969)
#79: "Walk This Way" by Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith
Appears on: 'Raising Hell' (1986)
Written by: Steven Tyler, Joe Perry
Produced by: Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons
I’m killing two birds with one stone here: this fills an early/pivotal hip-hop slot and an Aerosmith hole. (Yeah, I had to part with “Dream On.”) It’s a damn fun song to boot.
Run-D.M.C. - "It's Like That" (1984)
LL Cool J - "I Can't Live Without My Radio" (1985)
Run-D.M.C. - "It's Tricky" (1986)
Beastie Boys - "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)" (1986)
Beastie Boys - "High Plains Drifter" (1989)
#78: "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane
Appears on: 'Surrealistic Pillow' (1967)
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Label: RCA Victor
Written by: Grace Slick
Produced by: Rick Jarrard
I had a tough time choosing between “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” which both appear on 1967’s 'Surrealistic Pillow.' I’m trying to cover more ground this time genre-wise, so I have avoided “duplicate picks” wherever possible. I like “White Rabbit” more, personally, and feel that, of the two, it is the more representative of the psychedelic era.
The Byrds - "Eight Miles High" (1966)
Jefferson Airplane - "Somebody to Love" (1967)
Love - "Alone Again Or" (1967)
Big Brother and the Holding Company - "Piece of My Heart" (1968)
Janis Joplin - "Me and Bobby McGee" (1971)
#77: "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley
Genre: Blue-Eyed Soul
Written by Mark James
Produced by: Chips Moman, Felton Jarvis
Elvis disappeared from the music scene in 1958 after he was drafted by the military—with no war going on—and stationed in Germany for two years. Upon his return to the States, he made a great living as a Hollywood hack for several years before reinventing himself as a blue-eyed (read: white) soul act. “Suspicious Minds,” featuring much more elaborate production techniques than Presley’s ‘50s work, shot to #1 upon its release in 1969.
Elvis Presley - "Bossa Nova Baby" (1963)
Dusty Springfield - "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (1968)
Dusty Springfield - "Son of a Preacher Man" (1969)
Elvis Presley - "In the Ghetto" (1969)
Elvis Presley - "Burning Love" (1972)
#76: "I'm Waiting for the Man" by The Velvet Underground
Appears on: 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' (1967)
Genre: Garage Rock
Written by: Lou Reed
Produced by: Andy Warhol
It’s been a severe oversight on my part not to have included a song by the Velvet Underground on the list until now. “I’m Waiting for the Man” has the same punk-ish, garage rock-ish rhythm and crazy mystique that the entire 'Velvet Underground & Nico' album has; in this case, Lou Reed, with 26 dollars in his hand, is literally waiting for a drug dealer to show up. What a strange place 1960s New York City must have been.
The Velvet Underground - "Heroin" (1967)
The Velvet Underground - "Venus in Furs" (1967)
The Velvet Underground - "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" (1970)
The Velvet Underground - "Rock and Roll" (1970)
The Velvet Underground - "Sweet Jane" (1970)
#75: "Get Up, Stand UP" by Bob Marley and The Wailers
Appears on: 'Burnin'' (1973)
Label: Tuff Gong/Island
Written by: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh
Produced by: Chris Blackwell, the Wailers
I used to have two different Bob Marley songs on the list: “No Woman, No Cry” and “Redemption Song.” The inclusion of “No Woman, No Cry” kind of bothered me since I have never particularly liked the studio version—the live cut from 'Live!' and the 'Legend' compilation is superior—and I wanted my Bob Marley pick to come from the early part of his career, so that meant curtains for “Redemption Song.” “Get Up, Stand Up” seemed like the most logical choice.
The Wailers - "Concrete Jungle" (1973)
The Wailers - "I Shot the Sheriff" (1973)
Bob Marley and the Wailers - "No Woman, No Cry" (1974)
Bob Marley and the Wailers - "Exodus" (1977)
Bob Marley and the Wailers - "Redemption Song" (1980)
#74: "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas
Appears on: 'Dance Party' (1965)
Written by: Marvin Gaye, William "Mickey" Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter
Produced by: William "Mickey" Stevenson
Vintage Motown. Seven years before Marvin Gaye did “What’s Going On,” he co-wrote—and played drums on—this party song that would later be cited as a key track in the American civil rights movement after protesters frequently played “Dancing in the Street” during demonstrations.
Martha and the Vandellas - "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave" (1963)
Mary Wells - "My Guy" (1964)
The Supremes - "Baby Love" (1964)
Martha and the Vandellas - "Nowhere to Run" (1965)
The Supremes - "Stop! In the Name of Love" (1965)
#73: "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M.
Appears on: 'Out of Time' (1991)
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label: Warner Bros.
Written by: R.E.M.
Produced by: Scott Litt, R.E.M.
R.E.M. was, by far, the greatest and most important alternative rock band; no other alternative artist’s catalog even begins to compare to R.E.M.’s work from ’83-’92. They were the alternative underground in the ‘80s, and jumped from indie label I.R.S. to major label Warner Bros. after the success of 1987’s 'Document.'
“Losing My Religion” was released in early 1991 and was a pop smash, hitting #4 on the Hot 100. The smashing success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would follow later that year, but there’s no underestimating the importance of what R.E.M. did to prime the pump beforehand.
R.E.M. - "Radio Free Europe" (1983)
R.E.M. - "Time After Time (Annelise)" (1984)
R.E.M. - "The One I Love" (1987)
R.E.M. - "Orange Crush" (1988)
R.E.M. - "Man on the Moon" (1992)
#72: "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath
Appears on: 'Paranoid' (1970)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Written by: Black Sabbath
Produced by: Rodger Bain
I didn’t really have room for much metal on the list, so why not pick one from the beginning? Although the title track from Sabbath’s second record isn’t exactly the first heavy metal song, its influence is ridiculously self-evident: “Paranoid,” a hybrid of distorted metal and down-stroked punk, contains everything the grunge movement, a hybrid of distorted metal and down-stroked punk, ever needed.
Jeff Beck - "I Ain't Superstitious" (1968)
MC5 - "Kick Out the Jams" (1969)
Black Sabbath - "Iron Man" (1970)
Black Sabbath - "N.I.B." (1970)
Black Sabbath - "War Pigs" (1970)
#71: "Bo Diddley" by Bo Diddley
Genre: Rock & Roll
Written by: Ellas McDaniel
Produced by: Leonard Chess, Phil Chess, Bo Diddley
Give “Bo Diddley” a spin and you’ll immediately recognize the rhythm; known simply as the Bo Diddley Beat, it has been copped repeatedly over the course of the last six decades by other artists, from the Who (1968's "Magic Bus") to U2 (1988’s “Desire”) to George Michael (1987’s “Faith”). Unfortunately for Bo Diddley's bank account, rhythms can’t be copyrighted.
Muddy Waters - "Hoochie Coochie Man" (1954)
Bo Diddley - "I'm a Man" (1955)
Muddy Waters - "Mannish Boy" (1955)
Bo Diddley - "Who Do You Love?" (1956)
Muddy Waters - "Got My Mojo Working" (1957)