Deciding the 10 best slow rock songs of all time is not something that should be come upon lightly. Each band below has several other songs that easily could have made this list, and there are countless others. Ultimately, the winners displayed not only a mastery of the slow form and a harmonic flair, but that subtle and sublime humanistic flair which transforms music from mere sound, to something eternal.
- Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence" is one of the greatest slow rock songs of the 1960's. A tale loosely based on the fates of Kitty Genovese and Bobby Kennedy, it addresses timeless themes of human ignorance and embraces the power of individuality.
- Iron and Wine's "Such Great Heights" cover of the original Postal Service song is a sad and slow evocation of love. The speaker of the song seems to be wistfully imagining his future with his lover, but from the tone, it seems as if this future may never come to pass.
- Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" is one of the most haunting slow rock songs that has ever been recorded. Dealing with a lethal sort of self-loathing in the face of all the world's pain, the song coldly and beautifully portrays a suicidal artist.
- Elliot Smith's "Between the Bars" deals with issues of escapism through embracing the beauty of the moment, instead of thinking of all the problems of the world without. While it could be considered a drinking song, this slow rock song is also a tender, if fatalistic, love song.
- Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" might just be the greatest love song ever written. Though not directed to any one person, the protagonist of the song states his dedicated refusal to give up, to search forever for that one person with a "heart of gold" who will finally make life, and the world, worthwhile. It is his faith, more than anything, which makes this song incredibly beautiful.
- The Beatles' "Across the Universe" is one of their more profoundly spiritual songs, meditating on the purpose of life and our place in the universe. The sound conveys the mystical quality which the lyrics ponder, and it is this collaboration which has made this one of the world's most infamous slow rock songs.
- The Rolling Stones' "Goodbye Ruby Tuesday" may rise to an upbeat crescendo during the chorus, but the heart and soul of this song lie in the slow and delicate chords leading up its culmination. Melancholic and inspiring at once, the Rolling Stones are unquestioned masters of the slow rock song.
- Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" was a hippie anthem was it was released, and so it remains today. This great slow rock song is one of the greatest anti-war ballads ever written.
- Warren Zevon's "Keep Me in Your Heart For a While" is one of the saddest slow rock songs ever recorded. A master of the genre, Zevon wrote this song for lovers, requited or not, who must inevitably separate from their heart's desire. The song's chorus line, the title, comes across as wistful, not quite hopeful, and wrenching enough to stir the hardest hearts.
- Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet" is a slow rock song about an ill-fated love. Taking it's name from the Shakespeare play of the same theme, the song is also beautifully covered by Brandon Flowers of The Killers.
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