There’s a scream inside everyone of us at every moment. And every one of us has had the experience of listening to a record and feeling that scream take over. Release. Abandon. Let it all out. Rock and Roll for me is about Eros, not Logos, which is paradoxical since my job is putting the experience in words.
~Paul Williams (Author’s note)
One of our favorite authors here at JV is Paul Williams, and…. he did write about other stuff than Bob Dylan.
We all love lists, so I’ll try out a new series of posts honoring one of his lesser known books:
..the list is chronological, starting back before the beginning and going through the 50′s and the 60′s and the 70′s and the 80′s, and ending for the sake of convenience in 1991. So #1 is not supposed to be ‘better’ than #100. It just got in the line first.
My criteria are simple: the song has to have been released as a seven-inch 45 rpm single in the United States or Great Britain (Robert Johnson’s 78 rpm ten-inch is the exception that proved the rule), and it has be “rock and roll” according to my subjective evaluation…
~Paul Williams (Author’s note)
All quotes are from the book.
Here is #21 – 30
|#21 Sally Go ‘Round The Roses – The Jaynetts (1963)|
| The piano riff. The organ when it comes in. The relationship between the voices, the rising and falling volume, the hypnotic, intense, circular, unfailing rhythm. It’s just about as quintessential a rock single as there could be.
|#22 Louie Louie – The Kingsmen (1963)|
| ..surely the rock song that has been performed the most, at the grass roots level, every year since the Kingsmen first introduced it to the world. ..it’s the attitude. And the persistence of the rhythm and the crude clarity of the sound and the sloppy, undeniable fluidity of the guitar solo and the way the singer says “Okay, let’s give it to ’em, right now!”
|#23 Fun, Fun, Fun – The Beach Boys (1964)|
| ..starts by borrowing outright Chuck Berry’s guitar intro from “Johnny B. Goode,” a tribute as much as a rip-off.
.. “Fun, Fun, Fun” is a teen vignette in the Chuck Berry tradition, and stands as one of the all-time classics of the genre.
.. Innocence and arrogance. It’s a delicate combination, and you can’t fake any part of it.
|#24 I Get Around/Don’t Worry Baby – The Beach Boys (1964)|
|“Don’t Worry Baby” is one of the pinnacles of rock and roll artistry because of it’s utter unselfconsciousness, its innocent, unmatchable power and sincerity.
Don’t Worry Baby:
..also a masterpiece. Two for the price of one. ..it’s like the forerunner of some major new musical form that’s still unexplored..
I Get Around:
|#25 Dancing In the Street – Martha and the Vandellas (1964)|
| ..it is ultimately the sound of the record, rather than what it means, that determines its greatness. … A great sound, to me, is something alive, that can be returned to again and again as a source of inspiration & nourishment.
|#26 You Really Got Me – The Kinks (1964)|
|You really got me. I am really caught by you. This is truth for me at this moment. I am filled and bursting by it, intoxicated by it, bleeding from it, can’t live without it. Play the song again, please. I am starting to have a sense of my own existence.
|#27 Baby Please Don’t Go/Gloria – Them (1964)|
|Into the heart of the beast. Like “Mona,” like “Peggy Sue,” here is something so good, so pure, that if no other hint of it but this record existed, there would still be such a thing as rock and roll. Essence. It permeates this 45, leaks through from one side to the other and back again.
[Gloria] resulting in one of the most perfect rock anthems know to humankind. .. it’s made an indelible impression on every rock ‘n’ roller who’s ever heard it.
Baby Please Don’t Go:
|#28 A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke (1964)|
|This one makes it on the lyrics alone. .. It’s all in the voice, isn’t it? And isn’t it wonderful when voice and words, spirit and message, are so perfectly united? A great single, call it rock and roll or whatever you want, is a work of art that can instantly bring its listeners to that place where we experience and remember the deepest truths. It’s all in that title phrase, and the way Sam holds it in his heart and voice.
|#29 I Can’t Explain – The Who (1965)|
|..Melody, rhythm, language, and performance all in one package, and roughly equal in value (for greatness you must ring all the bells); everything riding on this one song…
.. that perfect last guitar solo (appropriately borrowed from “Louie Louie”; where else?) and the way it segues into the semi-auditable (borrowed from the Beach Boys) “ooh ooh”s..
|#30 The Last Time – The Rolling Stones (1965)|
| I am a poor man, but I have my riches, and one of them is the sound these guitars make when I listen to this single .. with the treble up. It’s a sound that calls forth the life in me. Always has and still does. Music everlasting.