Saturday, June 19, 2010


A couple of years ago, in the pre-No Expiration era, Rolling Stone magazine put out a special issue with the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." For some reason, they've just updated it slightly in a special collector's issue. And for some reason, you can't see the list on RS's confusingly redesigned website, but you can see it here.

I decided to use this as a launching pad for a great iPod mix, since I'm often finding myself to be ok with Rolling Stone's choices (minus their prejudice towards Jann Wenner's friends, and prejudice against progressive rock and metal). 

So, the first thirty songs… I couldn’t touch and left them intact on my mix. Some of them aren’t songs that I need to hear many more times, but I would feel downright sacrilegious replacing any of them. But I didn't mind ditching some sacred cows of classic rock radio.
I started making my own revisions at #31, where I replaced Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” with “The Rain Song.” I’m so tired of “Stairway.” I don’t know if “Rain Song” is really my favorite Zeppelin song – there are way too many awesome songs to choose one. But I love the line, “Upon us all, a little rain must fall.” That has always stuck with me.

I love The Rolling Stones but I am way more into some of thier album tracks, as opposed to the hits (that said, I left a lot of the hits alone): At #101, I replaced The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with the live, super badass version of “Midnight Rambler.” The former probably has a better message, as the latter is about a murderer, but I can’t help it, I never loved “You Can’t…” I replaced “Honkey Tonk Women” with “Stray Cat Blues.” “Wild Horses” was replaced “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” from the same album, 1971’s Sticky Fingers. And I replaced The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” with “All Down The Line.”

At #193, I replaced Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” with “Saturday Night Special." And at #407, I replaced “Sweet Home Alabama” with “The Ballad Of Curtis Loew.” So my Skynyrd songs are anti-gun and one honoring an African American blues musican. Yeah, I'm from a blue state.  But I love Skynyrd.

I’ve often argued that Elton John is more a slave to his greatest hits than any other major artist – he has so many amazing songs that most people aren’t even familiar with. So, I replaced #137 “Your Song” (a great song) with “I Need You To Turn To,” off of the same album, his self titled second album from 1970. Also, I replaced Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” a song about loneliness, veiled in a song about space travel, with “I Want Love” from 2001’s Songs From The West Coast, a much more honest and mature song.

Rod Stewart’s “Maggie Mae” (#131) is a great song about cougars, but another one that’s been driven into the ground. It was the b-side to “Reason To Believe” (written by Tim Hardin), and Rod has said that if the radio DJ hadn’t flipped the single, he’d have ended up going back to digging graves. That’s probably not true, but maybe he would be reuniting with The Faces this year! So, I’m replacing “Maggie Mae” with “Reason To Believe.”

I know that Ray CharlesModern Sounds In Country and Western was groundbreaking. And I love Ray singing country. But the album is way too overproduced with strings and corny backing vocals. I know that was the way Ray wanted it. But I don’t want to hear “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” so I replaced it with “Come Rain Or Come Shine.” (I did leave "Georgia On My Mind" alone.)

I got really crazy when I replaced Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” with his “Precious Time” from 1999. Sorry everyone! I’m just so tired of that song , and I don’t feel bad saying it, because I think Van is too. “Precious Time” speaks to me more. Also, I replaced Van Morrison’s “Moondance” with “And It Stoned Me.”

People will want to clobber me for replacing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with “The Show Must Go On.” “Rhapsody” is a great creation, and of course I love the scene from Wayne’s World. But I just don’t need to hear it anymore. I’m not a Queen fanatic, but “The Show Must Go On” hits me hard every time. I imagine Freddie Mercury knew he didn’t have much time left when he was writing this, and it certainly comes off that way when he’s singing it. I was going to replace Queen’s “We Will Rock You” with The Roots’ “Rock You,” but instead I used “The Seed (2.0) from the same album. Sorry, I like The Roots more than Queen.

I replaced The Strokes’ “Last Nite,” with the song they stole the riff from, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ “American Girl.”  And Pavement’s song was replaced by Rush’s “The Spirit Of The Radio.” It’s only right. (I do rip on Pavement a lot, but they have like five good songs.  I can't remember any Strokes songs though).

More replacements:
  • Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” with “Love To Love You Baby,” it’s plain sexier.
  • “Losing My Religion” from Out Of Time with “Try Not To Breathe” from my favorite R.E.M. album, Automatic For The People.
  • Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” which I could never stand with “A Case Of You.”
  • Aerosmith’s “Dream On” with “Make It” from the same album, their 1973 self-titled debut. Aerosmith are almost as bound to their greatest hits as Elton.
  • Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” with “Beyond Here Lies Nothing,” although I like the sentiment of the former better, the latter is a better song.
  • Beck’s “Loser” with the funkier “Beercan” from the same album, Mellow Gold.
  • Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” has a nicer message than “Use Me,” but I switched it anyway. Sue me!
  • I replaced the studio version of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” with a live version recorded at The Concert For New York City, which took place a few weeks after 9/11.
  • The Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’” with “I’m A Man.”
  • Bobby Darin’s “Mack The Knife” with Louis Armstrong’s version. That may pre-date the rock and roll era, but it’s my mix.
  • I don’t have The Dixie Cups’ “Chapel Of Love,” so I replaced it with The Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl.”
  • I replaced Stevie Wonder’s “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” with “As,” which he told me was the best lyric he’s ever written.
  • I replaced Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” with “Harvest.”
  • I replaced Daft Punk’s “One More Time” (which I do like) with The Chemical Brothers’ more rocking “Block Rockin’ Beats.”
  • The Rascals’ “Good Lovin’” with “People Got To Be Free.”
  • Earth Wind & Fire’s “That’s The Way Of The World” with “September.”
  • Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit In The Sky” with a newer version by The Blind Boys Of Alabama.
  • I never was that into Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” so I was going to go with The Fugees’ version, but I decided on Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” instead.
  • I replaced The Allman Brothers Band’s live “Whipping Post” (clocking in at over 20 minutes) with “Statesboro Blues” from the same album, At Fillmore East. Even though Gregg Allman wrote “Whipping Post” and “Statesboro Blues” is a Blind Willie McTell number. But my wife will be using this mix too, and a twenty something minute blues jam ain't gonna fly. 
  • I replaced The Bees Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love?” with “To Love Somebody” because I like it better.
  • Only one Metallica song, and it’s “Enter Sandman” ? At #408? I replaced it with “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” the first Metallica song I ever heard on “Metal Shop.”
  • I just can’t stand The Carpenters, sorry. I replaced their song with Aimee Mann’s “Save Me” from the 1999 film Magnolia.
  • I replaced Nirvana’s “In Bloom” with “School” from Bleach.
  • I replaced Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” with “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems.”
  • I replaced Crosby Stills & Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” which I never really liked, with Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s “Carry On.” (both songs were written by Stephen Stills.)
  • I replaced Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” with the live version of “Captain Jack.”
  • #431 was The Smiths’ “William, It Was Really Nothing,” which I like, but I replaced it by moving up “How Soon Is Now?” from #477, and then replaced that with “Panic.”
  • I replaced Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” with “Highway Star.”
  • I replaced Gladys Knight & The Pips’ “Midnight Train To Georgia” with “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”
  • I replaced Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” with “Blue Moon Of Kentucky”
  • I replaced Guns N Roses’ “Paradise City” with “It’s So Easy.”
  • I replaced George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” with one of my favorite songs ever, “All Things Must Pass.”
  • I used the remix of Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On,” the one with Nelly Furtado.
  • I replaced Jay-Z and UGK’s “Big Pimpin’” with Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I. and Lil’ Wayne’s “Swagga Like Us.”
  • I replaced Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” with Yes’ “Starship Trooper.” (sorry honey)
  • Yeah, I love “I Love Rock N Roll” (#491) too, but I replaced that with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ version of “Crimson and Clover.”
  • I replaced MGMT’s “Time To Pretend” (#493) with “Kids.”
  • At #496, I replaced Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty” with Warren Zevon’s “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me,” which he wrote about Jackson, and which Jackson later covered.
  •  Finally, at #499, I replaced Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” with “In My Garage.”
There were also a bunch of songs I had to flat out ditch. 
  • I had to flat out ditch #49, The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” Like “Stairway To Heaven,” it’s another classic rock sacred cow. I like other Eagles songs better, but I don’t think any Eagles songs belong in the top 50, sorry. “Stairway” and “Hotel” were the only things I changed from the top 100.
  • Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild”
  • ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”
  • Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman”
  • I don’t mind The Lovin’ Spoonful, but I got rid of both of their songs, “Do You Believe In Magic” (#218) and “Summer In The City” (#401). I know they're in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they don't make my top 500, or my top 600.
  • I can’t stand The Jefferson Airplane at all, so I dropped their songs “Somebody To Love” (#279) and “White Rabbit” (#483).
  • 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.” (But don’t tell him.)
  • Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe.”
  • Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.”
  • R. Kelly’s “Ignition (remix),” I always thought the dude was corny before we all found out how creepy he is.
I added a bunch of songs as well, those are for the next post.

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