As we drive along in our cars, the radio is usually just background noise. Our minds may be on other things.
But sometimes, a song so special comes on that we snap to attention, turn the volume up high and sing along. Not every song grabs you like this, but the best rock songs of all time certainly do. These timeless classic anthems transport you back to the time you first heard them and they stay with you forever.
There are many such rock standards, but here’s our picks for the ten best rock songs of all time.
List of Top 10 Best Rock Songs of All Time until in 2017
10. MORE THAN A FEELING – Boston
Thom Scholz worked in his basement for five years on this classic. When he emerged, More Than A Feeling was destined for greatness. Scholz’ band, Boston, eventually landed a recording contract with Epic Records, and More Than A Feeling became the first hit from the first album. Boston scored many more hits but their first has the staying power of rare standards.
9. COMFORTABLY NUMB – Pink Floyd
While on tour in Philadelphia in 1977, Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters was suffering from stomach cramps, and treated with tranquilizers. The effect of the tranquilizers were the inspiration for the lyrics of the band’s big hit, from their groundbreaking 1979 concept album “The Wall.” Featuring two guitar solos by David Gilmour, Comfortably Numb remains perhaps Pink Floyd’s greatest musical accomplishment.
8. ENTER SANDMAN – Metallica
With what is arguably the greatest opening guitar riff ever, Enter Sandman remains an enduring rock anthem, a song Rolling Stone once called “possibly the first metal lullaby.” The song references a child’s nightmares while referencing the “Sandman,” a folklore character who lulls children to sleep. The song has been used at sporting events, political rallies, and for New York Yankees pitcher, Mariano Rivera, who used it as his entrance music.
7. SMOKE ON THE WATER – Deep Purple
From their 1972 album “Machine Head,” Smoke On The Water tells the true story of a casino fire in Geneva, Switzerland. Deep Purple was there to record an album in the casino theater. The night before the session was to take place, “some stupid with a flare gun” (as the lyrics say) fired a shot into the rattan-covered ceiling of the Montreux entertainment complex. The resulting fire destroyed the casino and bassist Roger Glover noted the smoke from the fire which spread across nearby Lake Geneva. Add some classic guitar licks and one of the greatest rock songs ever was born.
6. BACK IN BLACK – AC/DC
From the album of the same name, Back In Black originated as a tribute to former lead singer, Bon Scott, who had died just five months before the song’s release. New lead singer Brian Johnson called the song a celebration for Bon Scott who penned lyrics such as Nine lives, cat’s eyes, abusing every one of them and running wild. With its distinctive hard-driving tempo and unmistakable guitar solos, Back In Black remains a fixture on many radio stations. This is one amongst the Top 10 Best Rock Songs of All Time until 2017.
5. DO YOU FEEL LIKE WE DO – Peter Frampton
Few albums match the success of Peter Frampton’s epic 1976 live release, “Frampton Comes Alive!” Containing other hits, such as I’m In You and Baby I Love Your Way, Do You Feel Like We Do is a seven minute masterpiece, featuring Frampton’s vocals, his powerful guitar solos, a memorable keyboard sampling, and of course, Frampton’s signature talk box. With a pleasing and lengthy intro, Do You Feel Like We Do gets in no hurry to conclude. In fact, the original version is over 14 minutes long, and some daring radio stations played it. By the time Frampton’s soaring riffs reach their climax, we are chanting along with the crowd: “Yes! We do feel like you do!”
4. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – Queen
How to classify this timeless classic from British supergroup Queen? Is it a rock anthem? A ballad? An opera? While the song’s composer, lead singer Freddie Mercury, kept the meaning of the third biggest hit in British rock history a secret, much speculation has centered on the main character: a man who commits murder then possibly, either sells his soul to the devil, or has an epiphany prior to his execution. While critical acclaim was mixed there is no denying the staying power of Bohemian Rhapsody, still found in regular airplay on many radio stations.
3. HOTEL CALIFORNIA – The Eagles
The mystical lyrics coupled with what soloist Don Henley, called “Mexican reggae” made for a rock chart topper which has stood the test of time. Released in 1977, record company executives were reluctant to release the six-minute song for commercial airplay. But Hotel California was ultimately released as a single, and the rest is history. The band’s signature song is woven into the fabric of American culture. With its dazzling guitars and occasional bongo inserts, it’s true. We can check out any time we like, but we never want to leave.
2. SATISFACTION – The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones’ first number one hit in the U.S. possibly remains their signature tune. From Keith Richard’s essential, yet basic riff, to Mick Jagger’s venting of frustrations, Satisfaction, possesses a carnal earthy appeal with a bass line driving it home. We’ve tried, and we’ve tried, and we’ve tried, but we can’t get no better ode to angst, whether it be toward our (wrong) brand of cigarettes, or the girls who only ignore us. Satisfaction is much like its creators, Jagger and Richards: classic, and timeless.
1. STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN – Led Zeppelin
If there is one song that causes radio listeners to cease pushing buttons, and pause while increasing the volume, it is surely the greatest rock song of all time. 1971’s Stairway To Heaven has it all, from hard charging guitar riffs, to driving drumbeats, to the unmistakable voice of Robert Plant. Seriously, how many rock songs begin with a flute? Plant’s lilting tenor takes us through a pleasant meadow for the first half of the song, before the drums crash into play, and Jimmy Page’s guitar announces you’ll be hearing a song for the ages. The rock of ages.
So, these above are the Top 10 Best Rock Songs of All Time until 2017. Stairway To Heaven is unmatched in its soulful tender lyrics and ferocious second-half rocking. It remains the gold standard in greatest rock songs.