List

Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time

By brandon / May 30, 2008 - 12:51 pm

It’s post-Memorial Day, which means it’s also supposed to be the start of summer. Maybe the season shift doesn’t directly effect the percentage of air guitars, but the nicer weather feels like a good enough reason to believe so, to have faith in good riffs and well-oiled six strings. Rolling Stone fulfills the need — or at least provides the blueprint for a guitar-centric mixtape — with a list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time.” As they write:

This is what makes a great rock & roll guitar sound: an irresistible riff; a solo or jam that takes you higher every time you hear it; the final power chord that pins you to the wall and makes you hit “play” again and again. Every song here has those thrills. But these are rock’s greatest guitar moments because of what’s inside the notes: hunger, fury, despair and joy, often all at once. You hear the blues, gospel and rockabilly that came before, transormed by the need to say something new and loud, right away. Rock & roll has been the sound of independence for half a century. The guitar is still its essential, liberating voice. These are the 100 reasons why.

Be prepared to be taken higher. Etc.

100 Tool – “Vicarious”
99 My Morning Jacket – “Run Thru”
98 Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Under the Bridge”
97 Queens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows”
96 Hüsker Dü – “New Day Rising”
95 Moby Grape – “Omaha”
94 Dire Sraits – “Money for Nothing”
93 My Bloody Valentine – “Only Shallow”
92 Mick Jagger – “Memo from Turner”
91 The Mars Volta – “Drunkship of Lanterns”
90 The Smiths – “How Soon Is Now?”
89 Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – “I Love Rock N Roll”
88 Quicksilver Messenger Service – “Mona”
87 King Crimson – “Red”
86 Jeff Beck – “I Ain’t Superstitious”
85 Phish – “You Enjoy Myself”
84 John Mayer – “Gravity”
83 Sublime – “What I Got”
82 The Ventures – “Walk — Don’t Run”
81 Michael Jackson – “Beat It”
80 Steely Dan – “Kid Charlemagne”
79 Sonic Youth – “Silver Rocket”
78 Buddy Guy – “Stone Crazy”
77 Pearl Jam – “Even Flow”
76 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “American Girl”
75 Frank Zappa – “Willie the Pimp”
74 ZZ Top – “La Grange”
73 Blue Cheer – “Summertime Blues”
72 Weezer – “Say It Ain’t So”
71 The Strokes – “Take It Or Leave It”
70 Smashing Pumpkins – “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
69 Pink Floyd – “Money”
68 B.B. King – “The Thrill is Gone”
67 Bruce Springsteen – “Adam Raised A Cain”
66 Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Texas Flood”
65 The Police – “Message in a Bottle”
64 Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Freebird”
63 Guns n’ Roses – “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
62 Albert King – “Born Under a Bad Sign”
61 Sam And Dave – “Soul Man”
60 Funkadelic – “Maggot Brain”
59 Jeff Beck – “Freeway Jam”
58 Link Wray – “Rumble”
57 Grateful Dead – “Dark Star”
56 The Byrds – “Eight Miles High”
55 Cream – “White Room”
54 Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Little Wing”
53 Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Born on the Bayou”
52 Radiohead – “My Iron Lung”
51 Ozzy Osbourne – “Crazy Train”
50 Pixies – “Debaser”
49 Jimi Hendrix – “Machine Gun”
48 The Clash – “London Calling”
47 Van Halen – “Panama”
46 Dick Dale and the Del-Tones – “Miserlou”
45 The Beatles – “I Saw Her Standing There”
44 Sleater-Kinney – “Dig Me Out”
43 The Sex Pistols – “Holidays in the Sun”
42 John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers – “Hideaway”
41 Television – “Marquee Moon”
40 The Who – “I Can See for Miles”
39 Santana – “Black Magic Woman”
38 The Faces – “Stay With Me”
37 Elvis Presley – “That’s All Right”
36 Pink Floyd – “Interstellar Overdrive”
35 The Stooges – “1969”
34 Aerosmith – “Walk This Way”
33 Metallica – “Master of Puppets”
32 Dire Straits – “Sultans of Swing”
31 Queen – “Keep Yourself Alive”
30 Bill Haley and His Comets – “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock”
29 AC/DC – “Back in Black”
28 U2 – “Where the Streets Have No Name”
27 The Paul Butterfield Blues Band – “Look Over Yonders Wall”
26 B.B. King – “How Blue Can You Get”
25 The Rolling Stones – “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”
24 Rage Against the Machine- “Killing in the Name”
23 The Yardbirds – “Over Under Sideways Down”
22 The Beatles – “A Hard Day’s Night”
21 The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”
20 The Impressions – “People Get Ready”
19 Prince and the Revolution – “Purple Rain”
18 Ramones – “Blitzkrieg Bop”
17 Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath”
16 Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Cowgirl in the Sand”
15 The Who – “My Generation”
14 Bruce Springsteen – “Born to Run”
13 Derek and the Dominos – “Layla”
12 The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
11 Led Zeppelin – “Whole Lotta Love”
10 Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
09 The Allman Brothers Band – “Statesboro Blues”
08 Led Zeppelin – “Stairway to Heaven”
07 The Beatles – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
06 Van Halen – “Eruption”
05 Rolling Stones – “Brown Sugar”
04 The Kinks – “You Really Got Me”
03 Cream – “Crossroads”
02 Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze”
01 Chuck Berry – “Johnny B. Goode

It’s worth checking out the write-ups at RS, too. Gives some context to the decisions, and you’ll be able to read hopped-up prose like this:

Before he was known as a songwriter, Springsteen was the fastest guitar player in Asbury Park. And in this bluesy hard-rock blast, he lets those chops loose again, pushing the E Street Band to garage-land with the angriest lead guitar on record.

The angriest lead guitar on record! Erik Rutan just called up to disagree. (Not really.) Also, I would’ve added “Teenage Riot” somewhere. And the lack of Dinosaur Jr. seems weird. Should likely also be some Pavement. So as not to be pigeonholed as a purely indie-rock dissenter: “Smoke On The Water.” Still, fun list.