Issuu on Google+

s of o n al g lt s im e

gr

11 ea

t


those who made it 4

8

bob dylan

john lennon

6 rolling stones 10

marvin gaye franklin 12 arethra

16

the beach boys

14

chuck berry

18 22

ray charles

the beatles

20

nirvana

24 the who


1

Like A Rolling Stone

Bob Dylan said of his greatest song shortly after he recorded it in June 1965. There is no better description of “Like a Rolling Stone” — of its revolutionary design and execution — or of the young man, just turned 24, who created it. Al Kooper, who played organ on the session, remembers today, “There was no sheet music, it was totally by ear. And it was totally disorganized, totally punk. It just happened.” Just as Dylan bent folk music’s roots and forms to his own will, he transformed popular song with the content and ambition of “Like a Rolling Stone.” And in his electrifying vocal performance, his best on record, Dylan proved that everything he did was, first and always, rock & roll. “ ‘Rolling Stone’ ‘s the best song I wrote,” he said flatly at the end of 1965. It still is.

4


Once upon a time you dressed so fine You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you ? People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall” You thought they were all kiddin’ you You used to laugh about Everybody that was hangin’ out Now you don’t talk so loud Now you don’t seem so proud About having to be scrounging for your next meal. How does it feel How does it feel To be on your own With no direction home Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone ? Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made Exchanging all preciouas gifts But you’d better take your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe You used to be so amused At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal. How does it feel How does it feel To be on your own With no direction home Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone ?

5


o N n et G tio ’t ac an sf

2

C Sa

ti

It’s one of the earliest examples of Dylan influencing the Stones and the Beatles— the degree of cynicism, and the idea of bringing more personal lyrics from the folk and blues tradition into popular music. The riff came to Keith Richards in a dream one night in May 1965, in his motel room in Clearwater, Florida, on the Rolling Stones’ third U.S. tour. He woke up and grabbed a guitar and a cassette machine. Richards played the run of notes once, then fell back to sleep. “On the tape,” he said later, “you can hear me drop the pick, and the rest is snoring.” That spark in the night transformed the rickety jump and puppy love of early rock & roll into rock. The primal temper of Richards’ creation, played through a Gibson Fuzz Box; the sneering dismissal in Mick Jagger’s lyrics; the strut of rhythm guitarist Brian Jones, bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts: It was the sound of a generation impatient to inherit the Earth.

6


I can’t get no satisfaction I can’t get no satisfaction ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try I can’t get no, I can’t get no When I’m drivin’ in my car And that man comes on the radio He’s tellin’ me more and more About some useless information Supposed to fire my imagination I can’t get no, oh no, no, no Hey hey hey, that’s what I say I can’t get no satisfaction I can’t get no satisfaction ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try I can’t get no, I can’t get no When I’m watchin’ my T.V. And that man comes on to tell me How white my shirts can be But he can’t be a man ‘cause he doesn’t smoke The same cigarrettes as me I can’t get no, oh no, no, no Hey hey hey, that’s what I say I can’t get no satisfaction I can’t get no girl reaction ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try I can’t get no, I can’t get no When I’m ridin’ round the world And I’m doin’ this and I’m signing that And I’m tryin’ to make some girl Who tells me baby better come back later next week ‘Cause you see I’m on a losing streak

7


e in

Im

ag

3

John Lennon wrote “Imagine,” his greatest musical gift to the world, one morning early in 1971 in his bedroom at Tittenhurst Park, his estate in Ascot, England. His wife, Yoko Ono, watched as Lennon sat at the white grand piano now known around the world from films and photographs of the sessions for his Imagine album and virtually completed the song: the serene melody; the pillowy chord progression; that beckoning, four-note figure; and nearly all of the lyrics, 22

lines of graceful, plain-spoken faith in the power of a world, united in purpose, to repair and change itself. The idea was not his alone: Ono’s own art, before and after she met Lennon in 1966, celebrated the transformative power of dreams. The first line of “Imagine” — “Imagine there’s no heaven” — is a direct descendant of the interactive pieces in Ono’s 1964 book, Grapefruit (“Imagine letting a goldfish swim across the sky”). Lennon knew he had written

something special. In one of his last interviews, he declared “Imagine” to be as good as anything he had written with the Beatles. We know it’s better than that: an enduring hymn of solace and promise that has carried us through extreme grief, from the shock of Lennon’s own death in 1980 to the unspeakable horror of September 11th. It is now impossible to imagine a world without “Imagine.” And we need it, more than he ever dreamed.

8


Imagine there’s no Heaven It’s easy if you try No hell below us Above us only sky Imagine all the people Living for today Imagine there’s no countries It isn’t hard to do

9

Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people Living life in peace You may say that I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger A brotherhood of man Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us And the world will live as one


go ha in t’s g on

W

“What’s Going On” is an exquisite plea for peace on Earth, sung by a man at the height of crisis. In 1970, Marvin Gaye was Motown’s top male vocal star, yet he was frustrated by the assembly-line role he played on his own hits. Devastated by the loss of duet partner Tammi Terrell, who died that March after a three-year battle with a brain tumor, Gaye was also trapped in a turbulent marriage to Anna Gordy, Motown boss Berry Gordy’s sister. Gaye was tormented, too, by his relationship with his puritanical father, Marvin Sr. “If I was arguing for peace,” Gaye told biographer David Ritz, “I knew I’d have to find peace in my heart.” Initially rejected as uncommercial, “What’s Going On” (with background vocals by two players from the Detroit Lions) was Gaye’s finest studio achievement, a timeless gift of healing. But for Gaye, the peace he craved never came: On April 1st, 1984, he died in a family dispute — shot by his father.

4

10


Mother, mother There’s too many of you crying Brother, brother, brother There’s far too many of you dying You know we’ve got to find a way To bring some lovin’ here today - Ya Father, father We don’t need to escalate You see, war is not the answer For only love can conquer hate 11

You know we’ve got to find a way To bring some lovin’ here today Picket lines and picket signs Don’t punish me with brutality Talk to me, so you can see Oh, what’s going on What’s going on Ya, what’s going on Ah, what’s going on In the mean time Right on, baby Right on Right on

Father, father, everybody thinks we’re wrong Oh, but who are they to judge us Simply because our hair is long Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way To bring some understanding here today Oh Picket lines and picket signs Don’t punish me with brutality Talk to me So you can see

What’s going on Ya, what’s going on Tell me what’s going on I’ll tell you what’s going on Right on baby Right on baby


ct

R

es

pe

5

Aretha Franklin took possession of the song for all time with her definitive cover, made at Atlantic’s New York studio on Valentine’s Day 1967. “Respect” was her first Number One hit and the single that established her as the Queen of Soul. In Redding’s reading, a brawny march, he called for equal favor with volcanic force. Franklin wasn’t asking for anything. She sang from higher ground: a woman calling an end to the exhaustion and sacrifice of a raw deal with scorching sexual authority. In short, if you want some, you will earn it. There is no mistaking the passion inside the discipline of Franklin’s delivery; she was surely drawing on her own tumultuous marriage at the time for inspiration. “If she didn’t live it,” Wexler said, “she couldn’t give it.” But, he added, “Aretha would never play the part of the scorned woman.... Her middle name was Respect.”

12


What you want Baby, I got What you need Do you know I got it? All I’m askin’ Is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit) Hey baby (just a little bit) when you get home (just a little bit) mister (just a little bit) I ain’t gonna do you wrong while you’re gone Ain’t gonna do you wrong ‘cause I don’t wanna All I’m askin’ Is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit) Baby (just a little bit) when you get home (just a little bit) Yeah (just a little bit) I’m about to give you all of my money And all I’m askin’ in return, honey Is to give me my profits When you get home (just a, just a, just a, just a) Yeah baby (just a, just a, just a, just a) When you get home (just a little bit) Yeah (just a little bit) Ooo, your kisses Sweeter than honey And guess what? So is my money All I want you to do for me Is give it to me when you get home Yeah baby Whip it to me When you get home, now (just a little bit) R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me R-E-S-P-E-C-T Take care, TCB And I ain’t lyin’ (just a little bit) (re, re, re, re) ‘spect When you come home (re, re, re ,re) Or you might walk in (respect, just a little bit) And find out I’m gone (just a little bit) I got to have (just a little bit) A little respect (just a little bit)

13


oo

at io

G

br

d

Vi

6

ns

“It scared me, the word ‘vibrations,” Brian Wilson once said, remembering how, when he was a boy, his mother, Audree, tried to explain why dogs barked at some people and not others. “A dog would pick up vibrations from these people that you can’t see but you can feel. And the same thing happened with people.” “Good Vibrations” harnessed that energy and turned it into eternal sunshine. “Good Vibrations” became the Beach Boys’ third Number One hit, but it was a short window of glory. “This is a very spiritual song,” Wilson said after its release, “and I want it to give off good vibrations.” 14


Ah! I love the colorful clothes she wears And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair Ah! I hear the sound of a gentle word On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air I’m pickin’ up good vibrations She’s givin’ me the excitations I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Ooo, bop-bop, good vibrations) She’s givin’ me the excitations (Bop-bop, excitations) (Good, good, good, good vibrations) I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Ooo, bop-bop, good vibrations) She’s givin’ me the excitation (Bop-bop, excitations) (Good, good, good, good vibrations) I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Ooo, bop-bop, good vibrations) She’s givin’ me the excitations (Bop-bop, excitations) Close my eyes; she’s somehow closer now Softly smile I know she must be kind When I look in her eyes She goes with me to a blossom world I don’t know where, but she sends me there (Oh, my my love sensation) (Oh, my my heart elation) Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations ahappenin’ with her (Good, good, good, good vibrations) I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Ooo, bop-bop, good vibrations) She’s givin’ me the excitation (Bop-bop, excitations) (Good, good, good, good vibrations) I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Ooo, bop-bop, good vibrations)

15


“Johnny B. Goode” was the first rock & roll hit about rock & roll stardom. It is still the greatest rock & roll song about the democracy of fame in pop music. “The original words [were], of course, ‘That little colored boy could play.’ I changed it to ‘country boy’ — or else it wouldn’t get on the radio. “Johnny B. Goode” is the supreme example of Chuck Berry’s poetry in motion. The rhythm section rolls with freight-train momentum, while Berry’s stabbing, single-note lick in the chorus sounds,as he put it, “like a-ringin’ a bell” — a perfect description of how rock & roll guitar can make you feel on top of the world.

B .

de

ny hn

oo

Jo

G

7

16


Deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans Way back up in the woods among the evergreens There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode Who never ever learned to read or write so well 17

But he could play the guitar just like a ringing a bell Go go Go Johnny go Go Johnny B. Goode He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack Go sit beneath the tree by the railroad track

Oh, the engineers would see him sitting in the shade Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made People passing by they would stop and say Oh my that little country boy could play Go go Go Johnny go


de Ju ey H

The Beatles’ biggest U.S. single nine weeks at Number One — was also their longest, at seven minutes and 11 seconds. During the recording sessions, producer George Martin objected to the length, claiming DJs would not play the song. “They will if it’s us,” John Lennon shot back. Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” in June 1968, singing to himself on his way to visit Lennon’s soon-to-be-ex-wife, Cynthia, and their son, Julian.

8

18


Hey Jude, don’t make it bad Take a sad song and make it better Remember to let her into your heart Then you can start to make it better Hey Jude, don’t be afraid You were made to go out and get her The minute you let her under your skin Then you begin to make it better And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool By making his world a little colder Na na na, na na, na na na na Hey Jude, don’t let me down You have found her, now go and get her Remember to let her into your heart Then you can start to make it better

19

So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin You’re waiting for someone to perform with And don’t you know that it’s just you? Hey Jude, you’ll do The movement you need is on your shoulder Na na na, na na, na na na na, yeah Hey Jude, don’t make it bad Take a sad song and make it better Remember to let her under your skin Then you begin to make it better Better, better, better, better, better, oh! Na na na, na-na na na Na-na na na, hey Jude Na na na, na-na na na Na-na na na, hey Jude ement you need is on your shoulder Na na na, na na, na na na na, yeah


Producer Butch Vig first heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in early 1991, on a boombox cassette recorded by bassist Krist Novoselic, drummer Dave Grohl and singer-guitarist-songwriter Kurt Cobain in a barn in Tacoma, Washington. The fidelity was abysmal. A shock wave of big-amp purity, “Teen Spirit” wiped the lingering jive of the Eighties off the pop map overnight. “The song was a call to consciousness”. Sadly, by the time of Nirvana’s last U.S. tour, in late ‘93, Cobain was tortured by the obligation to play “Teen Spirit” every night. “There are many other songs that I have written that are as good, if not better,” he claimed. He finally stopped playing “Teen Spirit” for good — taking his own life on April 5th, 1994.

9

e k t Li iri ls sp l e n Sm ee T

20


Load up on guns and bring your friends It’s fun to lose and to pretend She’s over-bored and self-assured Oh no, I know a dirty word Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello,

hello, hello, hello, hello,

hello, how low? hello, how low? hello, how low? hello

I’m worse at what I do best And for this gift I feel blessed Our little group has always been And always will until the end

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous Here we are now, entertain us I feel stupid and contagious Here we are now, entertain us

Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello,

A mulatto, an albino A mosquito, my libido Yeah, hey, yay I’m worse at what I do best And for this gift I feel blessed Our little group has always been And always will until the end Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello,

hello, hello, hello, hello,

A mulatto, an albino A mosquito, my libido Yeah, hey, yay And I forget just why I taste Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile I found it hard, it’s hard to find Oh well, whatever, nevermind Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello,

21

hello, hello, hello, hello,

hello, how low? hello, how low? hello, how low? hello

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous Here we are now, entertain us I feel stupid and contagious Here we are now, entertain us A mulatto, an albino

hello, how low? hello, how low? hello, how low? hello

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous Here we are now, entertain us I feel stupid and contagious Here we are now, entertain us

hello, how low? hello, how low? hello, how low? hello

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous Here we are now, entertain us I feel stupid and contagious Here we are now, entertain us

hello, hello, hello, hello,

A mulatto, an albino A mosquito, my libido Yeah, hey, yay And I forget just why I taste Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile I found it hard, it’s hard to find Oh well, whatever, nevermind

I’m worse at what I do best And for this gift I feel blessed Our little group has always been And always will until the end Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello,

hello, hello, hello, hello,

hello, how low? hello, how low? hello, how low? hello

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous Here we are now, entertain us I feel stupid and contagious Here we are now, entertain us A mulatto, an albino A mosquito, my libido Yeah, hey, yay


W ha t’ d

10 22

i sa y


“The people just went crazy, and they loved that little ummmmh, unnnnh,” Ray Charles told Rolling Stone in 1978, describing the instant genesis of “What’d I Say,” his first Top 10 pop single and the greatest feel-good song in rock & roll. The man they called “The Genius” literally wrote “What’d I Say” in front of an audience, in late 1958 or early ‘59. He and his crack R&B orchestra, newly supplemented by a female vocal group, the Raelettes, were playing a marathon dance show in a small town near Pittsburgh. When Charles ran out of repertoire late in the second set, he kicked into an uphill bass-note arpeggio on the piano, told the band to follow along and instructed the Raelettes, “Whatever I say, just repeat after me.” Afterward, Charles said, dancers rushed up to him and asked, “Where can I buy that record?”

Hey mama, don’t you treat me wrong Come and love your daddy all night long All right, hey, hey, all right now See the girl with the diamond ring She knows how to shake that thing All right, hey, hey, Mmm, all right now Ahhh, Ohh, Ahhh, Ohh, Ahhh, Ohh, Ohh Make me feel so good, make me feel so good right now Make me feel so good, make me feel so good right now Make me feel so good, make me feel so good Mmm, see the girl with the red dress on She can do the dog all night long All right, hmm what’d I say, tell me what’d I say Tell me what’d I say, tell me what’d I say right now Tell me what’d I say, tell me what’d I say right now Tell me what’d I say, tell me what’d I say Ahhh, Ohh, Ahhh, Ohh, Ahhh, Ohh, Ohh It’s all right, It’s all right right now Baby, it’s all right, Baby, it’s all right right now Baby, it’s all right, Oh yeah! Baby shake that thing, baby shake that thing right now Baby shake that thing, baby shake that thing right now Baby shake that thing, well I feel all right

23


M y G en io n

Townshend opened the song with a twochord assault that beat punk rock to the punch by more than a decade. Bassist John Entwistle took the solo breaks with crisp, grunting aggression — he had to buy three new basses to finish the recording, since his Danelectro’s strings kept breaking and replacement strings weren’t available. (He ended up playing the song on a Fender.) Roger Daltrey’s stuttering, howling performance, Townshend and Entwistle’s R&B-

at

The Who’s guitarist, Pete Townshend, supposedly wrote “My Generation,” his immortal fuck off to the elders in his way, on his 20th birthday, May 19th, 1965, while riding a train from London to Southampton for a television appearance. The song wasn’t intended as a youthmutiny anthem at first. It was a Jimmy Reed style blues, reflecting Townshend’s fears about the impending strictures of adult life, famously captured in the line “Hope I die before I get old.”

er

11

inspired backing vocals, and the upward key changes created a vivid, mounting anxiety that climaxed with a studio re-creation of the Who’s live gear-trashing finales, with Townshend spewing feedback all over Keith Moon’s avalanche drumming. Four decades later, Townshend and Daltrey are all that remain of the original Who, and they still play “My Generation” at every show — now with the fire and wisdom of age.

24


People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation) Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation) Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation) Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation)

People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation) Just because we get around (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation) Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation) I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation)

This is my generation This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation) And don’t try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation) I’m not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation) I’m just talkin’ ‘bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation)

25


A great song doesn’t attempt to be anything — it just is.

When you hear a great song, you can think of where you were when you first heard it, the sounds, the smells. It takes the emotions of a moment and holds it for years to come. It transcends time. A great song has all the key elements — melody; emotion; a strong statement that becomes part of the lexicon; and great production. Think of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” by Queen. That song had everything — different melodies, opera, R&B, rock — and it explored all of those different genres in an authentic way, where it felt natural.

When I’m writing a song that I know is going to work, it’s a feeling of euphoria. It’s how a basketball player must feel when he starts hitting every shot, when you’re in that zone. As soon as you start, you get that magic feeling, an extra feeling.

When you can hear what a writer is trying to do, it’s like watching a dancer and seeing him counting his steps. Music is emotional — if you’re singing that you’re in love with somebody but it doesn’t really feel like you are, people can tell. When your music signifies a time in the culture or continues on in everyday life then you know you’ve done your job.

jay z may 27th 2011



11 Great Songs Of All Time