My Fantasy Ballot for Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs of All-Time

As I said in my last blog entry, this summer has been kicking my ass. If anxiety concerning the pandemic weren’t enough, my body has decided to do a double whammy on me. Normally, there are really four side effects to my chronic pain: a rising in my blood pressure, a sudden retention of fluids resulting in joint swelling (think Verruca Salt in Willy Wonka), a sudden decrease of my potassium level and a depletion of testosterone in my body. The first two are normally just irritating inconveniences, and when my testosterone bottoms out, I feel like one of Batman’s nemeses Mr. Freeze, who must remain in sub-zero to stay alive. That is the symptoms which is the most cumbersome, since I will be hot all of the time and sweat profusely, especially when exposed to temperatures over 80 degrees and high humidity. Yet, it is the potassium that can quickly become life-threatening since our hearts need the ion in order to maintain a proper rhythm.

Yet, much to my chagrin, this summer I have gotten to experience a combination of side effects making it very slow going when attempting to wade through everything. Needless to say, when my potassium and testosterone levels are being treated, the effects will not be felt for another four to six weeks. Since all of this affects my energy level, I have not felt much like writing, let alone doing a little Google research on my topics. Which leads me to today’s topic.

Within the past week or so, Rolling Stone magazine, once one of the leading magazines in the world concerning rock music and youth culture, decided to blow up their previous Baby Boomer-centric Top 500 Songs of All-Time lists in much the same manner that their editors did to the magazine’s vaunted Top 500 Albums of All-Time list last year.

I remember when the last of the two lists were released in the magazine at the dawning of the new millennium, which seemed to be as good of a time as any to undertake such an endeavor. Since my boys were either still in high school/middle school or college/high school (in other words they were still wards of the household), we would discuss the two lists often. And there was one complaint in which we all agreed: Boomers had too much power in deciding which acts appeared on these lists. It was as if both Generation X and the Millennials had only been given passing nods to those generations’ likes and dislikes. Thusly, the Album List of the day had artists like Quicksilver Messenger Service, who meant absolutely nothing to the two younger masses. Additionally, hip hop was WAY underrepresented on either list, which made the younger crowds roll their eyes.

Therefore, as rock and roll moved into its seventh decade, it was time to create both lists that better represented the newer developments in music over the past two decades since the last lists. Unfortunately, again, I noticed that Generation X was slightly snubbed on the list of voters for both lists. On the other hand, not only were the Millennials represented, but I noticed a smattering of Gen Z members on the official list of voters. If one were to compare any and all Rolling Stone All-Time lists prior to the most recent versions to the current ones, the new lists seem as if the old ones had be completely torn apart. And, let’s face it, that SHOULD happen. Let me be honest for a moment: I have NEVER felt that The Beatles’ seminal Sgt. Pepper album was the greatest album of all time. I feel as though that album belongs to the Boomers, whereas Abbey Road, Revolver and Rubber Soul all speak more clearly to members of the younger generations than Pepper. Hell, ALL younger generations would rather listen to The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd or Marvin Gaye’s timeless protest album What’s Going On, rather than the hippie hodge podge of Sgt. Pepper. So, those kinds of changes are represented in the current lists, as are groundbreaking hip hop songs like “Rapper’s Delight” and “The Message,” as well as the albums by Wu-Tang Clan and Outkast.

All of this leads to the true purpose of this blog entry. According to the rules for the Top 500 Songs of All-Time list, the editors of Rolling Stone sent out ballots to musicians, DJs, producers, engineers, industry executives, rock journalists, etc., for the people list their 50 favorite songs without any ranking. Then, the votes would be counted, tabulated and ranked from 1, which song got the most votes through 500, representing the song with the fewest votes.

Much like many of my colleagues and fellow Rock Music bloggers and podcasters who did not get an official ballot, I have decided to list, in alphabetical order according to artist name, my list of my 50 favorite songs. Let me state right now that limiting oneself is a chore and nearly an exercise in futility. Initially, I came up with a list of around 110 songs. Then, I began to whittle down the list. Overall, the elimination process was easy until I got down to 66 songs. That’s when it started to stress me out a bit. Honestly, it took me more time to get rid of 16 songs from my list that it did to eliminate the first 44.

After I got the list down to 50, I waited 48 hours for new songs to pop up to be evaluated by my ears. Once I got through those 6 extra songs not originally on my list, I was able to finalize my unofficial fantasy ballot for Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs of All-Time. Before I get started, let me first acknowledge the brilliant Tom Lane for the idea to undertake this exercise in futility, and, second, this list is limited to a single song by an artist, thus eliminating several songs by the same group of artists. Finally, this is just my opinion and feel free to bitch all you want in the comments section. Here we go!

  1. Beastie Boys – “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” (Licensed to Ill, 1986)
  2. Big Star – “Thirteen” (#1 Record, 1972)
  3. Bob Dylan – “Like a Rolling Stone” (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
  4. Bruce Springsteen – “Rosalita” (The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, 1973)
  5. Cheap Trick – “Surrender” (Heaven Tonight, 1978)
  6. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Everytime You Go Away” (Voices, 1980)
  7. David Bowie – “Suffragette City” (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 1972)
  8. Donna Summer – “I Feel Love” (I Remember Yesterday, 1977)
  9. Duran Duran – “Hungry like the Wolf” (Rio, 1982)
  10. Echo & the Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon” (Ocean Rain, 1984)
  11. Elton John – “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” (Too Low for Zero, 1983)
  12. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” (Armed Forces, 1979)
  13. Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams” (Rumours, 1977)
  14. George Michael – “Freedom ‘90” (Listen Without Prejudice, 1990)
  15. Hüsker Dü – “Makes No Sense at All” (Flip Your Wig, 1985)
  16. John Lennon – “Imagine” (Imagine, 1971)
  17. Kiss – “Rock and Roll All Nite (live)” (Alive! 1975)
  18. Marvin Gaye – “What’s Goin’ On” (What’s Goin’ On, 1971)
  19. Metallica – “Enter Sandman” (Metallica, 1991)
  20. Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean” (Thriller, 1982)
  21. New Order – “Bizarre Love Triangle” (Brotherhood, 1986)
  22. Parliament – “Flash Light” (Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome, 1977)
  23. Pink Floyd – “Comfortably Numb” (The Wall, 1979)
  24. Prince – “When Doves Cry” (Purple Rain, 1984)
  25. Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night at the Opera, 1975)
  26. R.E.M. – “It’s the End of the Whole as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” (Document, 1987)
  27. Ramones – “I Wanna Be Sedated” (Road to Ruin, 1978)
  28. Rick James – “Super Freak” (Street Songs, 1981)
  29. Roxy Music – “More Than This” (Avalon, 1982)
  30. Sex Pistols – “Anarchy in the U.K.” (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, 1978)
  31. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – “Tears of a Clown” (Make It Happen, 1967)
  32. Soft Cell – “Tainted Love” (Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, 1982)
  33. Sugarhill Gang – “Rapper’s Delight” (single, 1979)
  34. Talking Heads – “Once in a Lifetime” (Remain in Light, 1980)
  35. The Band – “The Weight” (Music from Big Pink, 1968)
  36. The Beach Boys – “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (Pet Sounds, 1966)
  37. The Beatles – “Strawberry Fields Forever” (single, 1967)
  38. The Cars – “My Best Friend’s Girl” (The Cars, 1978)
  39. The Clash – “London Calling” (London Calling, 1979)
  40. The Cure – “Just like Heaven” (Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, 1987)
  41. The Jam – “Going Underground” (single, 1980)
  42. The Knack – “My Sharona” (Get The Knack, 1979)
  43. The Police – “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (Zenyatta Mondatta, 1980)
  44. The Rolling Stones – “Miss You” (Some Girls, 1978)
  45. The Smiths – “How Soon Is Now?” (Hatful of Hollow, 1984)
  46. The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” (My Ever Changing Moods, 1984)
  47. TLC – “Waterfalls” (CrazySexyCool, 1994)
  48. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “The Waiting” (Hard Promises, 1981)
  49. Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love” (Tom Tom Club, 1981)
  50. U2 – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (The Joshua Tree, 1987)

Go check out the Rolling Stone list to see how many songs on my list did NOT make theirs. Peace.