Top 10 Underrated Rock Songs of All Time
There is something holy about music and its ability to express the inexpressible. As someone once said, where words leave off, music begins. You do not need to have Von Gogh’s ear for music to like or dislike a song. Like most people, I need music to wash the dust of everyday life. Before I begin to pretend to be all discernible, I want to establish that I truly believe that there can be no real critique for a song. You either connect with it or you do not. I have felt out of depth more than a few times while trying to compile the list.
A little part of me died as I word-kissed the rear of a potential reader. We all have the urge to shout our opinions on rooftops, this is mine. It may prove to be a futile attempt but I can live with that. I mean, if there are folks who can be convinced that a cannabis influenced franchise on adventures of a spectacled boy and his two friends is worth billions of dollars, I have every right to be optimistic.
Before I begin, these opinions are based on nothing really. There are no parameters to quantify the position of the songs and if I were to prepare a list such as this next month, I would probably scoff at this one. Let us get on it.
Green Eyes- Coldplay
Coldplay is one of my favorite bands. No, I do not find them soporific and I think some people say so because it has become fashionable these days to put them down. If it were up to me I would vote for Coldplay as the band that dared to be effeminate with their lyrics. Queen a voice in my head points out, but that is an argument for another day. Green eyes was written by Chris Martin for.. hmmm… I have no clue. But this makes a great song and will leave you wishing you had someone to dedicate it to. I am quite aware that most people would not keep this song in any Top 10 list, but that is nothing to do how good the song is. Have a listen to it. This one ranks 10th in top 10 underrated rock songs of all time.
Richard Cory – Simon & Garfunkel
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have created innumerable songs which ooze poise and poignance. “Bridge over troubled waters” , “Mrs. Robinson”, “Sound of silence”, “Homeward bound” have all stood the test of time. But somewhere lost amongst these is “Richard Cory”. Richard Cory is originally a poem which was written by Edwin Arlington Robinson , first published in 1897. The poem describes an affluent, educated man by the name ‘Richard Cory’. His position and lifestyle is a matter of envy to the townspeople. As the poem goes, Richard Cory in spite of all his wealth kills himself. Simon and Garfunkel pay tribute to the poem in one of their lesser known songs.. Although it is not an original, I think the duo with their vocal harmony connected with the bourgeois, even adding a touch of irony to the song by suggesting that the envy remains even after Richard Cory’s sad death. This one scores 9th among the list of top ten underrated rock songs of all time.
Civil War – Guns and Roses
I have added this song after giving a lot of consideration. My first thought -This song feeds one of the oldest rock clichés. But I have slowly come to think that it is one of the best anti war songs written. The song samples speeches from the movie ‘Cool Hand Luke’ and quotes a Peruvian militant general. It is not the most popular song among the Guns and Roses faithful, some even accusing that the song reeks of hypocrisy as you may well know that Guns and Roses were not the most morally sound band. In a weird way, this “hypocrisy” is what drew me to the song. Great lyrics, great vocals, great guitar riffs, all in all Guns and Roses surprised everyone with this.
Heavy fuel – Dire Straits
This is a bad ass song from Dire Straits. it is an original with Knopfler singing in character. Incredible how they managed to pull a song which extols vices such as cigarettes and alcohol knowing that they have had a reputation of being very unassuming and self-effacing. The song is stripped down making it dear to an audience who are tired of the noise of stadium rock. Though it was a huge success and received a lot of acclaim, it is never the first one to come up in a conversation and never gets the respect it deserves. Instead there are songs by Nirvana and Iron maiden which are rated above it. This for me is severe injustice to the song. Heavy fuel deserves to be up there with some of the greatest rocks ever but sadly finds itself overshadowed by some very overrated songs. This one stands 7th among list of top 10 underrated rock songs.
Simple man – Lynyrd Skynyrd
What a beautiful song this is. Oh! the lyrics, so profound and beautiful. Just a mother telling her son how to live his life. I wish this song was played as often as the Van Halens and the AC/DCs. The simplicity of the song sweeps you off the floor and leaves an after taste. Whatever wordplay I use will not do justice to it. I have no choice but to post the excerpts from the lyrics as they are
Boy, don’t you worry you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you my son is to be satisfied
And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son if you can?
Trust me, it sounds a lot lot better when Ronnie Van Zant sings it. It’s a must listen.
Changeling – The Doors
A Junkie or a Genius? Jim Morrison has been dividing opinion for long and will continue to do so. But what he has done is that he has taken all the attention away from other members of the band. Be it his intoxicating vocals or his ability to provoke a riot in a church, Jim and his unpredictable stage persona was what made the band so influential and if there is a song which paints this picture, it is changeling. Hugely original, hugely influential and when Morrison screams “see me change” the song hits the spot. It would be very unfair not to mention Robby Krieger on guitar. He was the perfect match for Morrison and in changeling he proves his worth among the guitar elite complementing the fire Morrison attempts to rage. The song was overshadowed by tracks such as ‘L.A Woman’ and ‘Riders on the storm’ which were released in the same album. Changeling is a song which deserves more. This goes on 5th position in top 10 underrated rock songs of all time.
Achilles last stand- Led Zeppelin
The greatest rock band in my little knowing humble opinion. I resented it the first time I listened to them- Kashmir if I am not wrong. For obvious reasons I expected something else from the song and what I got was nothing like it. Then it slowly grows into you, to the point that it slowly begins to define you. They have recorded several highly acclaimed songs, but Achilles last stand is the best of the lot. Not stairway to heaven, not black dog, not misty mountain hop, not whole lotta love. Ok, maybe whole lotta love or maybe not. Anyways, my point is this song did not get the response it deserves. Whatever it is that you are doing now, stop. Put on those ear plugs and listen to Achilles last stand.
I assume you are done listening. Now tell me those galloping guitar riffs did not smack you on the head. I dare you. I am going to reach out of the screen and set you right and if possible steal some brownies from the refrigerator.
Heart full of soul – The Yard birds
The Yardbirds are famous for launching three of the most acclaimed guitarists- Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. They have the distinguished honor of spawning psychedelic rock. If there was no Yardbirds, maybe there wouldn’t be Led Zeppelin. I pick Heart full of soul as one of the underrated songs that any rock fan needs to listen. It was written by Graham Gouldman with Beck on the guitar. The guitar riff in the opening of the song is seen as an iconic progression in the music industry. The vocals from Keith Relf is very deep and classical at the same time. As you listen to the song, you can’t help but think it has been copied by countless artistes. Interestingly the famous guitar riffs were never suppose to happen as the band had agreed to use the sitar to produce an eastern exotic tone. It is impossible to say how that would have panned out, but we are fortunate that Beck was able to produce such a piece in his very first recording with the band, that in itself is a testimony to the genius of Jeff Beck. Yardbirds stays strong at 3rd spot among the top ten under rated rock songs of all time.
Oh La La -Faces
Having enjoyed only modest success, Faces are a forgotten band. But anyone who has gone through their work will realize the kind of influence they have had in the industry. This is a timeless track recorded in the final months before their break up. The layered acoustic is unmatched, creating a sepulchral undertone to the carefree musical arrangement. Yet as good as both the music and singing are, there is little question that it is the lyrics of “Ooh La La” that make it such a special song. Centered around the idea of a grandson not wanting to hear the “wisdom” of his grandfather, there are few verses as powerful as when Wood sings, “…the can-can such a pretty show, will steal your heart away…but backstage, back on earth again, the dressing rooms are grey…” Within the words, the melancholy feeling is reinforced, and one can easily make the case that Faces drops one of the greatest choruses in history when they sing, “…I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger…” Nearly everyone can relate to this feeling, and from generation to generation, the spirit behind these words continues to ring true. This one fall shorts of one place among the list of top 10 underrated rock songs of all time.
Summertime -Janis Joplin
The Daily Texan ran a profile of a 19 year old in the issue dated July 27, 1962 headlined “She Dares To Be Different.” The article began, “She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi’s to class because they’re more comfortable, and carries her Autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin.”
Janice Joplin is probably one of the greatest rockstars to have walked the planet. The rebel archetype that Joplin was, had a devastatingly addictive voice. She lived like a whirlwind romance and she died like one at the age of 27, just 16 days after the demise of Jimi Hendrix, two of the founding members of the 27 club. Her will funded $2,500 to throw a wake party in the event of her demise. Around 200 guests received invitations to the party that read, “Drinks are on Pearl,” a reference to her nickname. I rate Joplin’s cover of George Gershwin’s summertime as the most underrated song. Summertime is one of the most covered songs in history with more than 2000 official recordings but once Janice with her greasy blues voice, pours all her pain in to it, she is the song. Listen to it. If you don’t like it, take a flying leap. Thats your 1st underrated rock song of all time.