This song just doesn’t really do it for me. Maybe I’m neither old enough, nor young enough to really relate to the lyrics or maybe Dylan just isn’t my bag. I found the song to be a bit monotonous to listen to and I just couldn’t connect with the lyrics.
Imagine is a beautiful song in every way. The melody, the piano accompaniment and the message of peace and harmony all combine into a lovely experience for the mind, the ear and the heart.
The song’s message is a simple one, but a somewhat counter-culture one, particularly for a song that ended up being so popular. The song suggests that the world would be a better place without religion, nationality and personal possessions, which are all pillars of modern society.
It’s an interesting scenario to consider. It is hard to picture such a world ever actually existing and if it did, I suspect we’d just find other things to disagree about, but the idea of a peaceful world where everyone gets along is a nice one.
Aside from the message, Imagine is a pleasant song to listen to and sing along with and one that I never tired of hearing.
Many of The Beatles songs that made the top 100 list are introspective ballads. I Want to Hold Your Hand is a bouncy fun, squeaky-clean, love song that you can dance to.
The rhythm gets you tapping your feet and bobbing your head straight away. The lyrics are memorable and easy to sing along to. The song seems hopelessly square by today’s standards, but it’s still a fun sing-along type song. Not my favorite Beatles tune, but it does have the quality of a timeless classic.
I Heard it Through the Grapevine has been covered by many artists over the years, with well-known versions being released by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles:
and possibly the best known and most loved version by Marvin Gaye:
and of course there was the version by The California Raisins that introduced a whole new generation to the song back in the 80’s.
The Gladys Knight version has a funky dance beat to it and features the patented call and response backing of the Pips. You can really hear how Motown era R&B influenced modern rock music on this track. Gladys’ vocal would sound right at home on a classic rock track or a modern throwback album.
The Smokey Robinson version features a thumping bass and a smoother, more jazzy vocal. You could still dance to this tune, but it doesn’t have the peppy sound to it that Gladys’ version has. The song seems a poor match for Smokey’s almost delicate voice. He sounds like he’s straining to be heard over the music through much of the song.
Marvin Gaye’s version has a similar backing track to Robinson’s but the vocal has much more power and raw emotion. It’s easy to understand why this version has become such a classic. Instead of a peppy dance number, Gaye’s version sounds like a man in pain because he has found out his woman has been running around and plans to leave him. The song is still catchy and peppy, but it’s also raw and emotional.
I must admit, my first introduction to this tune was through the animated musical group The California Raisins, who’s television commercials made them a huge 80’s fad sensation for a time. The Raisins were everywhere for a while. They had CDs, toys and I think even a Saturday morning cartoon, before eventually fading back into obscurity.
As much as I loved the Raisins back in the day, I’m going to have to go with the Marvin Gaye version as my favorite and a worthy entry into the 100 Best Songs of All Time.
Much like All Along the Watchtower, Gimme Shelter is a song that evokes imagery of the Vietnam War era. The message of the song is essentially, “make love, not war.”
While I do like the message of the song, what really makes this song one of my favorites, is the driving rock beat, with a touch of psychedelic overtones, the raw emotion of the lyric and vocal and Jagger’s pure rock swagger.
It’s a song that both makes me want to dance and start a revolution. Unfortunately, the message is just as relevant today as it was back in the late 60’s.
The Police are another one of those “soundtrack to my childhood” artists. I remember hearing this song constantly on the radio when I was a kid and seeing the video on MTV.
In spite of the stalkery lyrics, which express the desires of a man, apparently obsessed with either a former lover or a woman (presumably), who never returned his affections, to obsessively “watch” the object of his obsession, this song has been a favorite of mine for a long time.
The lyric is creepy and the vocal is at times longing and at times menacing. The whole thing is backed with a signature bass beat and instantly recognizable melody.
While I’m certainly no proponent of stalking, the song evokes the emotion many of us have experienced of being completely obsessed with someone we can’t have, in spite of how much we might feel we were “meant” to be with them.
Dylan originally wrote and performed the song, which has been covered by everybody and their brother, but probably the best known and most loved version was performed by the Jimmy Hendrix Experience.
I listened to both the Dylan and the Hendrix version. I had a really hard time understanding Dylan’s vocals and I prefer the psychedelic vibe of the Hendrix version, so I’m going to have to say that one is my favorite.
Hendrix’s version evokes that late 60’s early 70’s vibe that just makes you want to roll a joint and “go to Mars.”
I most strongly associate Hendrix’s version with movies and TV shows about the Vietnam War. The song is well suited to that purpose, since it instantly transports you to the time frame and is well suited to a sort of cynical and dystopian view of the world that fits the Vietnam era.
All Along the Watchtower is probably not a song I’d put on heavy rotation on my playlist, but it is one that defines an era and evokes a certain mindset in a powerful way and thus a worthy entrant on this list.
Next up on my list of the 100 Best Songs of all time, is A Day in the Life by The Beatles.
A Day in the Life is the second Beatles song on my 100 Best Songs list. Initially, I thought it was one I hadn’t heard before, but once I started it up, I realized I just didn’t recognize the title.
Much like Hey Jude, A Day in the Life has a lush orchestral sound and a thought-provoking message andmixes tempos and moods throughout the song. It begins as a basic melancholy ballad, then in the second half the song becomes more upbeat and uptempo and then finishes with a dramatic crescendo.
It doesn’t have the same sing-along, ear worm quality as Hey Jude, but the song does a good job of evoking emotion and making you think about life and the world around you, while also being entertaining. This isn’t really my favorite Beatles tune, in terms of a song I’d want to listen to frequently for enjoyment, but I think it is a song that is definitely worthy of this list.
Next up on my list of the 100 Best Songs of all time, is Hey Jude by The Beatles.
While I enjoy some of The Beatles music, I won’t claim to be a huge Beatles fan or anything. Although, I did gain a newfound appreciation for their songs by playing the game Beatles Rockband and my old band even covered one of their songs for a while.
Hey Jude has a lush orchestral sound that progresses from a melancholy ballad to a rollicking celebration. The lyrics encourage Jude to open himself up to love and to all the experiences life has to offer and discourages him from making life more dreary than it has to be by closing yourself off to others, in order to avoid pain and rejection.
The message is simple. If you want her, go out and get her. Don’t sit around moping and stressing and wishing you had her, because you’re afraid, go out and get her. Additionally, the song suggests that you not heap all the problems of the world on your shoulders and sit around feeling sorry for yourself about it.
The song ends with a rather lengthy and memorable sing-along portion that’s hard to resist. The video features people in the background, standing with their arms around each other and swaying to the music, while singing along. I think that image perfectly encapsulates the warm, fuzzy feeling that Hey Jude invokes.
Hey Jude has all the hallmarks of the best of The Beatles music: a memorable tune, a meaningful message and a sound that entertains and evokes emotion. It’s easy to see why this band has become so revered by so many.