If you had to choose six songs to capture all of rock and roll, what would they be?
I'm reading a KILLER book right now called "This Is Your Brain On Music," by Danieil J. Levitin, and in chapter one, which sports the ambitious title "What Is Music," Mr. Levitin describes the time he was asked by John R. Pierce, the man who supervised the Bell Labs team that who built and patented the first transistor (Pierce also named the new device) to come up with six songs that capture all that is important about rock and roll. Pierce neither paid attention to nor understood the stuff, and he was curious, just, well, just because. The list Levitin put together was as follows (Elvis Presley is not on the list because Pierce had heard him):
1) "Long Tall Sally," Little Richard
2) "Roll Over Beethoven," The Beatles
3) "All Along The Watchtower," Jimi Hendricks
4 "Wonderful Tonight", Eric Clapton
5 "Little Red Corvette," Prince
6) "Anarchy in the U.K.," The Sex Pistols
Not bad. Mr. Levitin fully admits it was a hopeless task, but I can't resist taking on this hopeless task myself. So, here goes, with one per decade, since i think pop culture is such a part of rock and roll. Also, like Mr. Levitin, I'm trying very hard to do only rock and roll songs, which pushes a lot of cool pop music to the sidelines, as well as choose tunes that were truly seminal for their time.
1) "Johnny B. Good," Chuck Berry in the '50s
2) "A Day In the Life", The Beatles in the '60s
3) "London Calling", The Clash in the '70s
4) "When Doves Cry", Prince in the '80s
5) "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Nirvana in the '90s
6) "Beautiful Day", U2 in the 2000s
Whew, that was hard. Where's Iggy? Lennon solo? Def Leppard? Argh, so many, but for me, my list is reasonably tight. It's got the roots of rock in Chuck Berry, rock's avant garde tendencies in the Beatles, punk in the Clash, synth rock done right by Prince, grunge with Nirvana and a return simple, powerful, perfect songwriting with U2.
Please weigh in with your own lists!