Monday, March 31, 2014

Personal Observations on the Top Ten Songs of All Time

I was YouTube surfing this weekend when I stumbled upon one of those lists that make you curious. You know how they work. First they are interesting and then you wonder how they picked this one or that one and then you mull over all the other things that were not on the list. I could be top ten places to live, top ten baseball players, top ten party schools, etc. The one that caught my eye last night was Top Ten Songs of All Time.

Evidently this must be the last part of a longer list as it begins with the end of song number eleven on the list, Heroin by Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. If you don't want to take time to check it out here is the list, posted by someone whose handle reads GlOveCompartment.

10. What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
9. Born to Run (Springsteen)
8. The End (The Doors)
7. Hurt (Johnny Cash written by Trent Reznor)
6. Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stone)
5. Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
4. A Day in the Life (Beatles)
3. Like a Rolling Stone (Dylan)
2. Blowin’ in the Wind (Dylan)
1. Imagine (John Lennnon)

I found the selection somewhat interesting, but I had to wonder what the criteria for their selections was. I noticed two things here. First, nearly all the great songs "of all time" were from the Sixties. That seemed to indicate a measure of bias, especially since "All Time" seems pretty inclusive of a long period of time. And second, where are the female vocalists, performers and songwriters? In this group there was nary a one.

So I went looking for another list to compare it to, Rolling Stone Magazine's...

10. What’d I Say (Ray Charles)
9. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
8. Hey Jude (Beatles)
7. Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry)
6. Good Vibrations (Beach Boys)
5. Respect (Aretha Franklin) (written by Otis Redding)
4. What’s Goin’ On (Marvin Gaye)
3. Imagine (John Lennon)
2. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Mick Jagger/Rolling Stones)
1. Like a Rolling Stone (Dylan)

Interestingly, both lists have Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone and John Lennon's Imagine in the 1 and 3 positions. Also, both lists have a Beatles song, albeit a different one, in each list. But the Rolling Stone list is not only more racially balanced, it also is the only list with a female vocalist/performer on the list.

To be honest, I would not want to be on a panel that had to make a list like this. There is just so much great music. But I'm curious how the judges of either list established their criteria. For all I know it may be published somewhere, but in an era of women breaking through barricades in so many ways, why are there not more women on these lists?

Here are some of the great female vocalists and songwriters of note that come rather effortlessly to mind for me. If you have time click on the links for some very special performances.

Wind Beneath Wings or From a Distance (Bette Midler)
Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell)
Diamonds and Rust (Joan Baez)
Billy Holiday
In the Arms of the Angel (Sarah McLachlan)
Piece of My Heart (Janis Joplin)
Midnight Train to Georgia (Gladys Knight)
Judy Collins
Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)

Where does Ella Fitzgerald fit? How 'bout Ethel Waters?

Do you have a favorite song of all time?

Alas... life goes on.

EdNote: All illustrations on this blog have been my own creation unless otherwise noted, or implied when I am writing a review of others' work.

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