May 29, 2008

The 100 greatest guitar songs (according to Rolling Stone).

#1 is "Johnny B. Goode."

#4 has a place in my heart.

43 comments:

vbspurs said...

#2 should be #1, for me, as much as I love Chuck Berry.

And I can't believe Kurt Cobain ranks ahead of anything by Jimmy Paige (again, much though I liked Cobain).

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Ah, and actually they missed the best guitar solo of all time, which Althouse actually blogged about.

Nuages by Django Reinhardt.

And he did it with 2 fingers.

Alan said...

I'm really surprised to see Stevie Ray Vaughan's version of "Little Wing" down as low as 54. That's at least a top ten if not top five, IMHO.

Donna B. said...

What surprised this old lady is how many of them she knew and didn't have to listen to.

I'll be back tomorrow, I'm going to spend what little is left of the evening listening to the Rolling Stones and Guns n Roses. And Aerosmith.

I still think Jagger and Tyler are sexy.

SteveR said...

I'm not going to argue with #1 or many on the list but it seems a bit over analytical about something that's mostly emotional to me.

Heck I think "Whole Lotta Love" is a great guitae song because it was a great song that makes me remember making out with Laurel underneath a pool table at a party in 9th grade having drank too much Spanada.

OldGrouchy said...

Good song, as good as "Running Bear", "Volare" perhaps even on a par with "Streets of Laredo" or "El Paso." But, nothing beats Swing, swing, swing!

AJ Lynch said...

Hey Ann:

If I can buy these tunes in a package somewhere, let me know and I will do it thru your blog so you a commish.

Christy said...

Nice trip down memory lane. And I was pleased to discover a couple of more recent tunes I'd never heard before.

Figure the article was inspired by guys arguing over Guitar Hero's playlist?

cardeblu said...

For those of you who are lazy (like me) and didn't want to keep hitting "next," "next," "next" and wanted to see just the list and not any videos, here's this. Two Pink Floyd (David Gilmour) songs, but the wrong ones at least imo. And, what, no Joe Satriani or Eric Johnson?!

Kirk Parker said...

Surprised (but not unhappily so) by Neil Young and Crazy Horse showing up as high as they did! Not a lot of technical wizardry or flashy virtuosity there, but not every song needs that...

blake said...

Fun list.

If you don't want to have to click 40 times, click on the print button. It'll all come out on one page.

(This works for many articles.)

dr kill said...

1972. Release from high school. The Kink Kronikles. Ziggy Stardust. Those were the days, weren't they?

Cedarford said...

A disappointing list, for the most part. Santana at 39th, BB King almost 70th, nothing on Motown's Funk Brothers. No Roger McGuinn. No Rory Gallagher. No Spanish flamenco or Latin guitar classics of the last 50 years.

No "Killer Queen" from Professor Brian May, no "LA Woman" which is great mainly for the guitar work backing blowsy hungover Morrison... No late-Clapton accoustic guitar classics, or his "Bell Bottom Blues". One Edie Van Halen song??

Another Rolling Stone "suck list".

Jason said...

I nominate Union Station's live "New Favorite." Jerry Douglas's solo is just perfect. Breathtakingly so. And everyone in the audience knew what just happened.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EUeqzLGkZY

One of the very best moments in guitar history.

AllenS said...

When I think about guitar songs, I'm thinking guitar instrumentals. Some of the best were from the 1960's. Remember The Ventures? Also, called surfer music. Cedarford is correct about Spanish flamenco or Latin guitar classics. Truely great guitar music.

rdkraus said...

Fun to think back over. And, of course, illogical.

It was good to see that Clapton had actually confirmed what I've been telling people for years - that Layla riff had to be Duanne.

Between him and Hendrix, we lost a lotta good stuff that coulda been.

Windbag said...

Like most "Best of" lists, I was moving through this one, nodding approvingly at some, shrugging my shoulders at others. However, when I came to Prince at #19, I quit reading.

George said...

The problem with most of these lists is that there's nothing new about them. It's like rock ended in 1977.

But here is something new:

"Soldier" by the North Mississippi Allstars.

Luther Dickinson, lead guitar.

Recently saw this trio play. Luther was all over his guitar like a bug on stink. Band sounds like a mash-up of the Allmans, ZZ Top, and Cream with doses of Mahavishnu and Santana thrown in.

Plus, his brother plays drums and electric washboard. Think of it as the Dixie theremin.

MadisonMan said...

Why isn't My Sharona on the list?

bill said...

However, when I came to Prince at #19, I quit reading.

Yep, easily should have been top 10.

wgh said...

Allen... I love the Ventures.

David Gilmour can make a guitar absolutely frigging sing. He gets some love but not enough IMO.

Kirk Parker said...

George,

If you had actually bothered to read the list, you would have seen a lot of entries from the '80s, '90s, and even this decade.

Pastafarian said...

This list just cracked my top ten for "Stupidest Lists Ever Compiled by Man".

What we have here, people, is a list of the greatest guitar songs ever, with no Pantera, no Muddy Waters, no Rush, no Blue Oyster Cult, no Deep Purple, no Judas Priest, only one Led Zeppelin, and only two Allman Bros.

They do manage to include a Stevie Ray Vaughn -- right after U2. U2, in a guitar song list. Not songs centered on vocalists -- no -- guitar songs. And this comes after such guitar luminaries as Prince, the White Stripes, Rage Against the Machine, two Beatles diddies that didn't feature Clapton on guitar, and 7 (seven) punk bands.

Then, after all that dross, they damn with faint praise Skynnyrd and ZZ Top. They might just as well have left them off completely.

Did I mention that this idiot of an author included Weezer, Michael Jackson, Sublime (love is, is what I got, remember that -- ever dislodge that sludge from your brain?), and...drumroll...

John Fucking Mayer. I shit you not.

That's right, a John Mayer song was judged a better "guitar song" than anything from the combined catalogs of Deep Purple, John Lee Hooker, and Jimmie Page (save one Zeppelin song).

Let that sink in, and then never, ever read another list by Rolling Stone again.

Henry said...

I thought a Talking Heads song might have made at least the bottom of the list. Maybe 99. That David Byrne does so little with the guitar is the essence of greatness:

David hated bands that sounded mumbly. "Got mumbled" he'd say. They never wanted to do the musical equivalent of a dramatic trick. They'd avoid sensuous rhythms. David would never play a guitar solo. No drum solos either.

Remember we're not talking "most complicated," just "greatest."

If you want to call out guitar virtuousity and Talking Heads at the same time, there's always Adrian Belew playing lead guitar on The Great Curve.

Well, I breathlessly await the 100 greatest keyboard songs. I want to see Steve Nieve get some love.

George said...

Kirk--

Yes, I got bored after about #40.

RS has been rehashing lists of the same songs over and over and over for more than 20 years.

What I want is a list of the "100 Greatest Songs You've Never Heard By Bands You Never Heard Of."

TMink said...

Well said Henry, I agree on all points. David is left handed but plays guitar right handed. Jerry Harrison, his one time bandmate, thinks that is why David can play these very synchopated and quirky guitar parts live while singing. Using his off hand to fret allows that to happen easier with the grey matter, at least according to theory.

I think David gets no love because of just how punk his guitar playing was. Not punk like the Ramones or Green Day, not in a garage approach, but punk in that it was original, intense, and idiosynchratic.

Trey

HA HA HA said...

Right, a list of "great guitar songs" by somebody who never heard of James Honeyman Scott, Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain, Phil Manzanera, James Williamson, Elliot Easton, Buck Dharma, the Flamin' Groovies, Big Star, John Kimbrough, or Ronald Jones-era Flaming Lips. And who can't think of a better Zeppelin song than "Stairway to Heaven", for God's sake, nor a better Crimso track than "Red". Hell, the Black Crowes belong on that list more than three quarters of what's there.

What a senseless waste of zeroes and ones. But we at least were spared Steve Howe.

paul a'barge said...

Well, there went two hours out of my day. First the article and then the music and then all the ancillary YouTube spin-offs and then the emails to family and friends ...

thanks for that !-)

paul a'barge said...

No Bob Dylan
No The Band
No Steve Miller
No Boz Scaggs

Joe said...

Most "greatest" lists are silly and this is no exception. Any list proclaiming to be about guitar songs that doesn't include "Welcome to the Jungle" is a fraud.

(I can think of several songs with iconic guitar riffs, like Hotel California, Aqualung and Smoke on the Water, but they aren't "guitar" songs. And how is Eruption a song?)

Finn Kristiansen said...

It's not a bad list. Of course I'm just happy to see my Mark Knopfler represented in the Dire Straits entries. Oh and Stevie Ray, who could have placed higher.

I think some confuse great guitarists with great guitar songs, which don't always overlap.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Any Smiths songs make the list?

Henry said...

Yes.

blake said...

I would've brought up flamenco and a lot of classic riffs--and apparently there are no great jazz guitar songs?--but I didn't want to be accused of being a snob. (Or worse, a racist!)

I missed Muddy Waters, too, and I thought Al Di Meola should be represented, and of course this completely excludes the catalogues of "classical" musicians from Dowland to Villa-Lobos.

But I figure Rolling Stone is in the same spot: They know about a lot more music than this, and what they really wanted to do was compile a list that would be entertaining, nostalgic and fun, and also provocative enough to drive some traffic.

It's really just a list of "guitar songs we like not too far outside the mainstream pop of the past 50 years", and that's okay.

Revenant said...

U2, in a guitar song list. Not songs centered on vocalists -- no -- guitar songs.

Personally I like their guitarist better than Bono. The opening to "Pride" is one of the better intro riffs, in my opinion.

But a realistic version of the top 20 guitar songs would have Hendrix in it at least five times.

Meade said...

This didn't make the list?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFsfPE-t3Hg

matthew said...

First off, this is a list from Rolling Stone, so the fact that there is no jazz or latin makes sense. It's just outside of the purview of the list.

Secondly, Prince if a frickin' awesome guitar player.

Third. No Rush? This list sucks.

John Stodder said...

I can't take the time to keep clicking to see two or three titles, but from I can tell, this list has the same problem as all rock writing. It "reviews" everything but the music. If this list was 100 most memorable guitar songs, or most cultural impact, okay.

That said, I love "Crossroads." If you're talking Led Zeppelin, I'll take "Black Dog" and "Song Remains the Same" above "Stairway." George Harrison deserves better than to be upstaged by Clapton in his own band (as great as that song it). What about "My Sweet Lord," or "Something," which has a lovely solo.

It's funny they rate "Brown Sugar" so highly. When "Sticky Fingers" first came out, Rolling Stone did not give it a good review, and focused on "Brown Sugar" as emblematic of their disappointment. The review is on their site: They slagged the song and album for "middle-level competence." The writer was, oddly enough, Jon Landau, who later on became Bruce Springsteen's manager. Bruce is great, puts on a great live show, but he's never put out an album as good as "Sticky Fingers."

Chuck Adkins said...

I liked hendrix's version better myself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXjezYpSARE

Revenant said...

Bruce is great, puts on a great live show, but he's never put out an album as good as "Sticky Fingers."

I've got to disagree with you there, John. With the "Born to Run" album, Springsteen not only kicked the Rolling Stones' ass and took their lunch money, but probably took the time to write a bittersweet ballad about the experience too.

That being said, "Sticky Fingers" was an excellent album. And I completely agree that this list reviews "everything but the music". And don't forget, they panned Led Zeppelin too.

John Burgess said...

No Leo Kottke.

blake said...

Good call, John Burgess.

And, John Stodder, as I noted, the key is to click on the print icon. It'll put the entire article on a single web page.

Modern Otter said...

I'm at a disadvantage when it comes to much of the post-1985-or-so stuff. Missing in action: Amos Garrett's pretty break on "Midnight at the Oasis." Criminally missing in action: anything by Richard Thompson, anything by Zal Yanovsky (Lovin' Spoonful), anything by Roy Buchanan (I'd think they'd've included "The Messiah Will Come Again.")

Cedarford's technically right that Roger McGuinn was omitted as I believe he was still Jim McGuinn when "Eight Miles High" was recorded.