Upon further review: Stephen King’s top 24 rock songs ever

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I like reading Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly (side note, Uncle Stevie — sorry but I let my subscription run out after 15+ years as a subscriber. Too much tabloidism now in the magazine and not enough industry coverage) and a couple of months ago I read Stevie’s Wonders which was King’s top 24 rock and roll songs.

The thing that got me was when I read the following paragraphs…

”Best rock songs of all time,” he says. ”That subject always starts arguments, especially if you don’t put ‘Stairway’ on there.”

I realized he was right. Especially since the idea of putting ”Stairway to Heaven” on such a list grosses me out. So I decided to take my biker buddy up on his idea. Twenty-four great songs, one for every hour of the day, picked by the Infallible Me.

I began by throwing out most of those Internet lists, because they’re full of ballads (”Tears in Heaven” as rock & roll? Oh, really?), soul (”When a Man Loves a Woman” is a great song but it’s not rock), and tunes that have been played to death. There’s also an amazing number of draggy songs on the lists, like ”Hotel California.” When would I like to hear that one again? Uh…how does never work for you?

As much as certain songs are classics — they are more pop than rock. “Hotel California” — that’s a folksy rambler of a pop song (at least the live version, gotta listen to the original again but it’s soft rock if anything). “Tears in Heaven” is a ballad and not boot-stompin’, shit-kicking rock. You know, the type of songs that make you want to groove your thing all over the place.

That got me thinkng of the Beatles a lot. Now, anyone who knows me knows that the Beatles have had a profound effect on me, so this should seem like only a natural conclusion. While there are plenty of songs in the Beatles library (under Lennon/McCartney, Harrison or Starkey) that could vie for a place on King’s list… It was the one song that is forever identified with the Beatles that made it: She Loves You.

King talks about how the song “gets in, does it’s business and gets out” as why it’s the top Beatles song and also shows King’s justification why a number of songs by a number of artists didn’t make the cut — they linger. They dwell. They overstay their welcome. She Loves You clocks in at 2:22. In, out, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am.

Yet my opinion differs. I’ll add a little length in time to my selection versus Uncle Stevie’s choice in saying “She Loves You” ain’t the top Beatles rock’em, sock’em song. I could single out any number of songs that can be more than “She Loves You” but let’s keep it the older fair simply because the Beatles of 1963 didn’t have multiple overdubs, double tracking and such. It was pure, it was simple, it was ruined by screaming fans when performed live.

At any rate, the one on my mind is more of a rock and roll classic than “She Loves You” IMHO. If “She Loves You” can be labeled a Beatles-only song (and from listening to it this morning, I couldn’t help but realize how it epitomizes the early Fab 4 with “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and the vocal harmonizing in their ooh’s), the one on my mind is the Rock God’s ode that ranks up there with classics from Berry, Holly, Little Richard, etc.

I Saw Her Standing There:

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 !

Well, she was just 17,
You know what I mean,
And the way she looked was way beyond compare.
So how could I dance with another (ooh)
And I saw her standin’ there.

Well she looked at me, and I, I could see
That before too long I’d fall in love with her.
She wouldn’t dance with another (whooh)
And I saw her standin’ there.

Well, my heart went “boom,”
When I crossed that room,
And I held her hand in mine…

Whoah, we danced through the night,
And we held each other tight,
And before too long I fell in love with her.
Now I’ll never dance with another (whooh)
Since I saw her standing there

Well, my heart went “boom,”
When I crossed that room,
And I held her hand in mine…

Whoah, we danced through the night,
And we held each other tight,
And before too long I fell in love with her.
Now I’ll never dance with another (whooh)
Since I saw her standing there

2:55 makes it a little long by Uncle Stevie’s standards but come on… This goes away from the banal love-love-love and brings you the pure primal urges of a cocky kid at a dance. Where you get stuck with the yeah-yeah-yeah’s in the refrain of “She Loves You”, the worst you suffer here is trying to figure out the answer “How could I dance with another girl / When I saw her standing there?”

Of course, “She Loves You” comes off more like a stampede in it’s delivery (just listen to Ringo Starr’s lead in on drums and that sets the tempo for the delivery of the entire song), “When I saw her standing there” comes at you raw but on target in the sense of a garage band who got recording studio time and made the most of it.

Isn’t that what Rock’s about? Get in, get out — I agree with King on this — but then you have that non-honed element that has gotta be there. Something like you’re enjoying yourself but you’re just wigging out, showing your feelings in what you’re singing. You listen to Paul telling you “She was just 17 / and you know what I mean” and you know what he means. Either if you are the guy or the girl.

Maybe you see my point, maybe you entirely disagree. Cast your vote below:

[poll=2]

You may also want to comment and leave your thought son things, that’s all right and good to. There are a ton of originals that the Beatles wrote and performed that could be listed but try not to go past 1965 if you want to list another song.

1 Comment

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One Response to Upon further review: Stephen King’s top 24 rock songs ever

  1. dionigi

    i had to give it to She Loves You. i really generally dislike the Beatles, but i can’t turn my back on that song.