Some might call it blasphemous to leave out bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd from a top 10 best rock songs of all time list, but there's just so many great rock songs out there, somebody had to be the loser. These songs stand out for their innovation and musical relevance, but mostly, they just rock.
- “Like A Rolling Stone" Bob Dylan had made “statements” with his Woody Guthrie-inspired folk music, but going electric helped him make one of popular music’s ultimate statements with this epic, life-changing folk-rock explosion. “How does it feel?” Dylan asks. Feels like one of the best rock songs of all time.
- “Hound Dog" Blame the rest of the best rock songs of all time and every rock song ever on Elvis Presley. “The King” took this 12-bar blues written by songwriting geniuses Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to a whole new level, giving it bite and backbeat.
- “All Along The Watchtower" Bob Dylan hits the best rock songs of all time list again, but this time it’s in the form of Jimi Hendrix’s fuzzed-out freakout that practically defined 1960’s guitar rock.
- “My Generation" The Who may be old and/or dead now, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this sloppy ode to youth is one of the best rock songs of all time. Roger Daltrey’s stuttering vocals complement the song’s punky spirit p-p-perfectly.
- “Satisfaction Before the Rolling Stones dabbled in psychedelia (and heroin,) these lads from England were scholars of the blues. As a result, they ended up writing one of blues-rock’s most distinctive riffs. And thanks to classic lines like “he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me,” this is one of the best rock songs of all time.
- “Born To Run" Bruce Springsteen, heavily influenced by Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, championed the rebellious spirit of rock and roll and ended up writing some of the best rock songs of all time. This thundering tune, aided by the unstoppable E Street Band, captures the feelings of being lost, but enjoying the ride.
- “Smells Like Teen Spirit" After the abysmal spandex-dominated 1980’s, it seemed impossible that anyone had it in them to write one of the best rock songs of all time, but Kurt Cobain came through with this pop/rock juggernaut in 1991. Aping the quiet/loud formula of The Pixies and an arena-rock chorus, Nirvana destroyed glam metal and invented alternative rock all in under 5 minutes.
- “A Day In the Life" By the time “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” came out in 1967, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were hardly co-writing anymore, but this song spliced two of their creations together which, along with two goosebump-inducing orchestral buildups, helped make it one of the best rock songs of all time.
- “Bohemian Rhapsody" Freddie Mercury was schooled in classical music and old-time songwriting and his education shines in this classic head-banging Queen single. From its odd lyrics (Fandango? Scaramoushche?) to its multi-suite arrangement, Mercury and Co. succeeded in writing one of the best rock songs of all time.
- “Good Vibrations" It took a crew of guys with super-sweet harmonies who sang songs about surfer girls and high school to write one of the best rock songs of all time. This Beach Boys mini-symphony came complete with a creepy verses and a trippy electro-theremin bit at the tail end.
What Others Are Reading Right Now.
Acting, comedy and strong spirits converge in Speakeasy. When host Paul F. Tompkins interviews entertainers—Key and Peele, Alison Brie, Rob Delaney, Zach Galifianakis—about all sor ...
Emma Watson and Other Child Stars Who Grew Up To Be Hot
Throughout the Harry Potter film series, we've seen Emma Watson transform from a lovable child star into a burgeoning sex symbol. She's not the first actress to do so, and she cert ...
What Makes Men Attractive to Women
What women want—confidence, a sense of humor and abs.