No, it’s not a playlist of rock and roll songs, as that would be very, very long, and really un-focussed as well. No, it’s a playlist about songs about rock and roll.
It only makes sense that there would be a few songs out there about rock, because you always write best about what you know best. I’ve gone with a list of positive songs about rock– trust me, there are a few sad ones out there (immediately coming to mind, Bob Seger’s Turn The Page). So let’s celebrate a little Rock And Roll
Led Zeppelin Rock And Roll from Led Zeppelin IV
It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled
It’s been a long time since I did the stroll….
…Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time
I was walking through the living room during football season about 10 years ago, and was snapped to the flat screen TV by the sound of power and fury. Turned out it was a Cadillac commercial starring, you guessed it, Rock And Roll by Led Zeppelin. And of course, I was outraged, WWND, etc. But now, what I really remember most is being jolted by the music. It’s that visceral.
The Velvet Underground Rock And Roll from Loaded
One fine mornin’, she puts on a New York station
and she couldn’t believe what she heard at all
She started dancin’ to that fine-fine-fine-fine music
You know her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll
Lou Reed, never really known for his positive lyrics, really gets it right here. And I don’t know which version I like better, the studio version from Loaded, or Lou’s live version from Rock and Roll Animal. Original, very tight. Live, very amazing. My suggestion, check ’em both out.
Creedence Clearwater Revival Travelin Band from Cosmo’s Factory
Listen to the radio talkin’ ’bout the last show
Someone got excited, had to call the state militia
Everybody loves the jam bands, the lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong song, but there is an artistry in summing things up in under 3:00 minutes. CCR were the masters of the short story, and those two lines sum up the best of the concert experience.
Chuck Berry Johnny B. Goode from a 1958 single Johnny B. Goode
His mother told him “Someday you will be a man,
And you will be the leader of a big old band.
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying Johnny B. Goode tonight
The American Rock And Roll Dream, but that’s not what I’m here to tell you about.
About 20 years ago, a good friend suddenly became a single dad to a 4 and 6 year old. And one night, as he was putting his boys to bed, they made the classic request, “Tell us a story.” And he froze. Panicked. And then had an inspiration
“Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans” he said (not sang), as he began the story we all know as Johnny B. Goode. And the kids thought, Dad is great!
The archetypal story, for the ages of 1 to 92!
The Who Long Live Rock from Odds & Sods
We were the first band to vomit in the bar,
And find the distance to the stage too far,
The place is really jumping to the high-watt amps,
‘Til a 20-inch cymbal fell and cut the lamps,
In the blackout they dance right into the aisle,
And as the doors fly open even the promoter smiles,
Someone takes his pants off and the rafters knock,
Rock is dead, they say,
Long live rock, long live rock, long live rock.
Hard to believe the Who didn’t think enough of this song to even put it out till their historical compilation, Odds & Sods. But this song gets to the essence of rock and roll, from the hammered band to the greedy promoter right throught the music-crazed audience, on a gut level. I’ve been to this concert. I have to admit this was the song that was the impetus for this list.
Joan Jett And The Blackhearts I Love Rock And Roll from I Love Rock And Roll
I love rock n’ roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock n’ roll
So come and take your time and dance with me
I don’t know if many bars have juke boxes any more, with iPods, Sonos and satellite radio. But as long as there are guitars, drums and basses, there will always be the image of the dime in the juke box, the ice cream parlor and the dance. All captured by one Joan Jett.
Rolling Stones I Know It’s Only Rock And Roll from It’s Only Rock And Roll
Which pretty well sums it up.