Thursday, May 9, 2013

Satisfaction & Stairway: A Review of the Greats. Part One.

  What defines a "great" song? A song that all of us know, hum the guitar solos to, and practically recite the lyrics in our sleep. A song that is just so timeless, so great, and simply incredible to listen to. We all know what I'm talking about: the greats. But who critiques what is already considered so great? Me. The answer is me. Today, I am going to take some of the greatest songs of all time (by Rolling Stone magazine, me, and various internet sources) and give my honest opinions. So sit back, relax, and let nostalgia take over.

"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones
Writer: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Andrew Loog Oldham
Released: May 1965, London
14 weeks; No. 1

  The Rolling Stones are still touring today (in fact, I'm seeing them for my birthday!) after over fifty years of being together as a band. Fifty! Any band that still tours after fifty years, let alone is even together, is definitely considered great. But is what is considered the Stones' most famous songs, often nicknamed "Satisfaction," really as great as it is made out to be? Yes. The answer is yes. In my opinion, this song isn't so much lyrically great as it is musically, but that doesn't knock it down even a tad. Every single time this song comes on the radio, I found myself air-guitaring the opening riff (which EVERYONE seems to know, for some reason) and even singing to it. Singing a riff! You know a song is great when you can sing a guitar riff. It's catchy, danceable, and definitely deserves to be considered a "great."

"Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan
Writer: Dylan 
Producer: Tom Wilson  
Released: July '65, Columbia
12 weeks; No. 2

  Bob Dylan is known as possibly one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century. Known as the "king" of folk rock, Dylan changed us all with just his acoustic guitar, harmonica, and that strange, strange voice. (It wasn't until the famous Judas!/Electric guitar incident that people began to look at him for things other than folk rock.) "Like a Rolling Stone" is considered one of his best songs, and in actuality- it is. In my opinion, at least. Of course I love millions of other Dylan tunes, like "Ballad of a Thin Man," "Lay Lady Lay," etc- "Like a Rolling Stone" really is a great song. I love everything about it, from how Dylan's voice echoes through stereo when you play it to how jumbled and disorganized it sounds, and yet somehow still works. "
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.'" ( And I think that's why it's so good.. the rambling of Dylan and the crazy instrumentation make this song both enjoyable and fun to listen to.

"Hey Jude" by The Beatles
Writers: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Producer: George Martin
Released: Aug. '68, Apple 
19 weeks; No. 1

  *Takes a deep breath, clearing my throat and preparing for a ton of hate from Beatlemaniacs alike* I DON'T LIKE LISTENING TO THIS SONG ON MY OWN TIME! Whoo. There, it's finally been said. Worshipping The Beatles as much as I do, I must have listened each song dozens of times. Of course, their more popular songs, like "Blackbird," "Yellow Submarine," "Let it Be" and "Hey Jude" receive more airplay and mention than some of my personal favorites, like "Happiness is a Warm Gun," "Lovely Rita," and "Long, Long, Long." Don't get me wrong; I very much enjoy "Hey Jude." I just don't like listening to it in my own free time, because of how much airplay it receives. When it comes onto the radio, I of course sing along, jam out, and obsess over the song. But it's just so overplayed that I become sick of it. While "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Satisfaction" are both very famous, I find they don't get as much radio play as "Hey Jude," and therefore, I'm not as "sick" of them. I do love "Hey Jude," but I feel like it's just been played over and over to the point of tiring me out.

"My Generation" by The Who
Writer: Pete Townshend
Producer: Shel Talmy
Released: Nov. '65, Decca
5 weeks; No. 74

  I used to love the Who. But after I saw their concert in November I realized that in my opinion, the band was a bit overrated. (PLEASE, I NEED TO POINT OUT THAT THESE ARE ALL MY OPINION) I do enjoy a lot of their songs, but from listening to and obsessing over them so much in the previous year to seeing their concert, seeing them live was just.. well, a let-down. That being said, I am somewhat bias to review a Who song because of my current opinion on them. But let's get this straight; I love Roger Daltrey's stuttering, Entwistle's quick bass solos, and basically the whole song. Although I don't consider this the GREATEST SONG OF ALL TIME I do like it well enough to put it on this list, and give it a mention. It's not the Who's best song in my opinion, but I do like it and consider it one of their few songs I don't find overrated.

"Stairway to Heaven" by Led ZeppelinWriters: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Producer: Page 
Released: Nov. '71, Atlantic
Non-single, no chart information

  NO! NO NO NO NO NOOOOOO. I love Zeppelin, but Stairway is NOT their only song! They have plenty of other songs that are just as great, and maybe even better! I am beyond sick of people saying Stairway is their best song (as well as "Kashmir," which I don't like at all, actually) and I'd appreciate it if people looked into the band before adding their input on Stairway's greatness. Yes, the solo is amazing. Yes, Plant's vocals are both beautiful and haunting. But no, it is not my favorite Zeppelin song, and not their best in my opinion.

"Light My Fire" by The Doors
Writers: Robby Krieger, John Densmore, Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek 
Producer: Paul Rothchild
Released: June '67, Elektra 
17 weeks; No. 1
  The position I have on "Light My Fire" is similar to how I feel about "Hey Jude." I love the band, and thoroughly enjoy the song- it's just that hearing this song over and over has started to bore me. I absolutely love the Doors, and they're even one of my favorite bands. I love Morrison as a singer, Densmore as a drummer, Krieger as a guitarist, and Manzarek as a keyboardist. I even saw them live in October of 2012. (Well, minus Densmore because he doesn't tour anymore and obviously Morrison.) It's just that hearing this song constantly has started to annoy me. Especially because this song, like Stairway, is lengthy. Don't get me wrong- I like this song. But the instrumental part of it just.. bores me to pieces. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello again, Sam! These are wonderful record reviews and I would never dare come into your "house" and challenge you or debate you over your preferences. As it turns out my likes and dislikes are closely aligned with yours. I was your age in the summer of 1965 when "Satisfaction" dominated the chart. It was one of the first British Invasion records to turn up the "nasty." Keep in mind that the Beatles were still singing romantic love songs at the time. Therefore, the Stones' "Satisfaction" was a refreshingly raw and punk sounding single by mid 60s standards. After all these years it still sounds fresh and vital to me and I don't get tired of listening to it. Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" is a classic, bursting with feeling and passion and bitterness and righteous anger. I agree it also deserves to be ranked as one of the greatest recordings of the 20th century. "My Generation" by the Who gets on my nerves after a while with its gimmicky stuttering. The Who's sheer loudness is also hard to take sometimes. My favorite Who song is "Won't Get Fooled Again" which contains one of the greatest primal screams in all of rock. I also agree with you about "Hey Jude," "Light My Fire" and "Stairway." They have all been played to death on the radio and they all have very long running times, making repeat listens an ordeal rather than a pleasure.

    You amaze me with your knowledge of music from my youth, Sam, and it's a pleasure to follow your blog!