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Fifteen Facts About Rolling Stone's List of Greatest Songs of All Time

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Stevie Nicks Wrote Fleetwood Mac's Only Number One Hit


Rolling Stone has lost my R-E-S-P-E-C-T, since I read the issue with the one hundred greatest songs. Probably because Aretha Franklin died the past year, the RS editors selected her spelled-out hit as number one.

Somehow, the song that had always earned that designation, “Like a Rolling Stone,” was dropped to number four. A music magazine with the rich history of RS should well know that a song that resorts to spelling out its title is no match for the four-verse Bob Dylan classic, which the magazine itself describes as “bursting with piercing metaphor and concise truth.”

In spite of the anger I felt over Dylan being replaced by “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”, the October 2021 issue did provide some informative details about the hundred songs made the list. Here are fifteen of the nuggets I learned from reading it.

1. Sam Cooke, whose “A Change Is Gonna Come” finished one slot ahead of “Like a Rolling Stone,” was actually inspired to write the song after hearing Dylan's “Blowing in the Wind.”

2. Kurt Cobain was attempting to emulate the pop vibe of the Pixies when he wrote “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which finished at number five.

3. Cornerback Lem Barney and running back Mel Farr, who were both All-Pro players with the Detroit Lion, sang backing vocals on Marvin Gaye's “What's Going On.”

4. According to a tidbit of his song about Strawberry Fields, RS said “Lennon bared himself so vulnerably in the song that he was nervous about playing it for the other Beatles.”

5. Of all the enduring hits Fleetwood Mac recorded, “Dreams” became the band's only number one in the United States.

6. So inspired by the Beach Boys' “God Only Knows,” Lennon and McCartney wrote the Revolver track “Here, There and Everywhere.”

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7. Lennon and McCartney were so determined to write a number one song that they locked themselves up in the home of Jane Asher, where they in a few days emerged with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

8. “Recording technology was taxed by the multilayered scaramouches and fandangos,” RS said of the classic Queen hit, “that some tapes became virtually transparent from so many overdubs.”

9. Of the title track to the Imagine album, Lennon declared it was as good as anything he had written with The Beatles.

10. Producer Tony Visconti banged on a metal ashtray in the studio where David Bowie was recording “Heroes,” which placed number 23 on the list.

11. “Stairway To Heaven,” song #61 of the hundred, was inspired by a Lewis Spence historical account called Magic Arts in Celtic Britain.

12. When Robbie Robertson alludes to Nazareth in the Band's hit “The Weight,” he is referring to a town in Pennsylvania.

13. Originally addressing his subject as Jules, McCartney decided on the final title because of Jud in the musical Oklahoma.

14. Liam Gallagher disliked “Wonderwall”, the Oasis song at 95, because it sounded too much like Sting and the Police.

15. Journalists once asked John Lennon why did not write songs about his life, and his answer ended up being #98 “In My Life.”

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