10 Greatest Rock Ballads Ever

Even rock stars like to slow the pace once in a while and a select few have made our list of 10 greatest rock ballads ever. A great rock ballad usually tells a story and has great lyrics that show off the band's sensitive side. The true sign of a great ballad, though, is if its the song at the live concert that prompts everyone to hold their lighter in the air and sway back and forth. Of course, now people hold up cell phones instead of lighters, but you get the idea.

  1. "Yesterday" by the Beatles It stands to reason that one of the greatest rock bands ever would have one of the ten greatest rock ballads ever. A simple song about lost love and proof that a great ballad does not have to be complicated.
  2. "Desperado" by the Eagles  If you have ever seen the Eagles live, you know that they often close the show with this song, which sends everyone away happy. This sad, slow rock ballad has classic lyrics about running from pain in search of pleasure and urges, "You better let somebody love you before its too late."
  3. "Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon The 80's certainly produced some great rock ballads, but this cut from REO Speedwagon's "High Infidelity" album is one of the ten greatest rock ballads ever. It has the big 80's sound by guys with big 80's hair and gives us pleading lyrics like, "I don't wanna sleep/I just wanna keep on loving you."
  4. "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton  Sure, Slowhand can rock it with classics like, "Layla" and "Cocaine", but he could slow it down it down, too and this rock ballad is one of the best ever. Like "Layla", this one was written for Pattie Harrison, former wife of Beatle George Harrison.
  5. "Angie" by the Rolling Stones No list of the ten greatest rock ballads ever would be complete without a song by the Stones, and "Angie" makes the cut. Wonderful acoustic guitar in a song about the end of relationship makes this one a classic rock ballad.
  6. "American Pie" by Don McLean  Hardly anyone knows what the lyrics mean and it goes on for over eight minutes, but it is still one of the greatest rock ballads ever. McLean acknowledges that "the day the music died" is the day that Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in 1959, but he leaves the rest of the speculation about the song's meaning up to the fans.
  7. "Dream On" by Aerosmith  The band's first single from their first album is one of the ten greatest rock ballads ever. Joe Perry gives us some nice guitar, but Steven Tyler's vocals, singing lines such as, "Half my Life/Is in books written pages/Lived and learned/From fools and from sages," are what make this ballad great.
  8. "One" by U2  A simply haunting rock ballad about the bitterness of a failed relationship, but still needing to co-exist. We are baffled by those who consider this a love song and even go so far as to play it at their wedding, but still one of the best ballads ever.
  9. "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas  Like many great rock ballads, this one has a great opening with the lyrics, "I close my eyes/Only for a moment/Then the moment's gone." Unlike many great rock ballads, though, this one has a memorable violin solo, too.
  10. "Alone" by Heart  The ladies can rock with songs like "Barracuda", but they can also play great ballads. Ann Wilson's vocals start slow then come on strong, asking, "How do I get you alone", making "Alone" one of the ten greatest rock ballads ever.
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