Dylan's 'Rolling Stone' tops greatest songs chart greatest song

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With Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" at No 1, and the Stones' "Satisfaction" at No 2, it might seem a little enlightened self-interest is at work in Rolling Stone magazine's chart of the 500 Greatest Rock'n'Roll Songs.

But the chart was apparently compiled from the votes of a panel of music industry luminaries, artists, producers, songwriters, executives and critics, including the Motown founder Berry Gordy, the singer Art Garfunkel, the songwriter Joni Mitchell, the celebrity father Ozzy Osbourne and the celebrity son Jakob Dylan, of The Wallflowers.

So perhaps it simply indicates the prescience of the founding editor Jann Wenner, in 1967, in naming his new magazine after the world's greatest rock'n'roll song and the world's greatest rock'n'roll band.

Little seems to have changed since the magazine's heyday. It affirms what needed no affirmation, that the 1960s was the pre-eminent decade of rock music, followed far behind by the 1970s. There are only two entries in the top 50 from the 1990s, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (9) and U2's "One" (36), with the 1980s confirmed as the decade taste forgot with a sole top 50 placing for The Clash's "London Calling" (15). Things look worse for the present century, which furnishes a mere three contributions to the 500, two of them by Eminem - "Lose Yourself" (166) and "Stan" (290) - with Outkast's "Hey Ya" (180) the most recent entry.

The earliest is Muddy Waters' "Rollin' Stone" (459) from 1948, which, besides adding further fuel to the suspicions that the chart may be self-serving, overstretches the notion of rock'n'roll beyond its usual chronological parameters.

As might be expected of such a hip, liberal magazine (and such a multiracial art form) the chart has no discernible racial bias, with black artists well represented. But the Anglo-American bias is much more pronounced than it would be in a comparable chart compiled by a British magazine.

Jamaican music is shockingly under-represented with seven entries, four of them by Bob Marley. And the absence of Kraftwerk, one of the most important groups of the past 30 years, indicates the American perplexity about dance and electronic music.

As for real African music, Paul Simon's "Graceland" is 485, which speaks volumes about the insularity of even the most enlightened of American taste-makers.

Sixties confirmed as the pre-eminent decade

THE TOP 50

1: Bob Dylan, Like A Rolling Stone

Writer: Bob Dylan

Released: August 1965

Chart positions: UK: 4, US: 2

Notable for being, at six minutes, twice the length of the standard pop single, and for introducing a strain of poetic bile into the pop chart

2: The Rolling Stones, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

Writers: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Released: August 1965

Chart positions: UK: 1; US: 1

The song that kick-started a great songwriting partnership

3: John Lennon, Imagine

Writer: John Lennon

Released: November 1971 (US), October 1975 (UK)

Chart positions: UK: 6 (1975), 1 (1981), 3 (1999); US: 3

The most mellifluous of anarchist anthems

4: Marvin Gaye, What's Going On

Writers: Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye and Renaldo Benson

Released: February 1971

Chart position: US: 2

Title-track of the landmark album which announced Marvin Gaye's new, politicised musical direction

5: Aretha Franklin, Respect

Writer: Otis Redding

Released: April 1967

Chart positions: UK: 10; US: 1

The black pride anthem which brought the Queen of Soul overnight success after six years of ill-advised cabaret schmaltz

6: Beach Boys, Good Vibrations 1966

7: Chuck Berry, Johnny B Goode 1958

8: The Beatles, Hey Jude 1968

9: Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit 1991

10: Ray Charles, What'd I Say 1959

11: The Who, My Generation 1966

12: Sam Cooke, A Change Is Gonna Come 1965

13: The Beatles, Yesterday 1965

14: Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind 1963

15: The Clash, London Calling 1980

16: The Beatles, I Want to Hold Your Hand 1964

17: Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze 1967

18: Chuck Berry, Maybellene 1955

19: Elvis Presley, Hound Dog 1956

20: The Beatles, Let It Be 1970

21: Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run 1975

22: The Ronettes, Be My Baby 1963

23: The Beatles, In My Life 1966

24: The Impressions, People Get Ready 1965

25: Beach Boys, The God Only Knows 1966

26: The Beatles, A Day in the Life 1967

27: Derek and the Dominos, Layla 1971

28: Otis Redding, (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay 1968

29: The Beatles, Help! 1965

30: Johnny Cash, I Walk the Line 1956

31: Led Zeppelin, Stairway To Heaven 1971

32: Rolling Stones, Sympathy For The Devil 1968

33: Ike & Tina Turner, River Deep, Mountain High 1966

34: The Righteous Brothers, You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' 1964

35: The Doors, Light My Fire 1967

36: U2, One 1991

37: Bob Marley and the Wailers, No Woman, No Cry 1974

38: The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter 1969

39: Buddy Holly and the Crickets, That'll Be the Day 1957

40: Martha and The Vandellas, Dancing In The Street 1964

41: The Band, The Weight 1968

42: The Kinks, Waterloo Sunset 1967

43: Little Richard, Tutti Frutti 1956

44: Ray Charles, Georgia On My Mind 1960

45: Elvis Presley, Heartbreak Hotel 1956

46: David Bowie, Heroes 1977

47: Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water '69

48: Jimi Hendrix, All Along The Watchtower 1968

49: The Eagles, Hotel California 1977

50: Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Tracks Of My Tears 1965

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