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Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Guitar Songs of All Time

by Larry

I was poking around Digg today and I came across a Rolling Stone article titled, “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.”  Some items on the list made sense and others made me wonder, “What the hell were they thinking?” Here’s the top 6:

  1. “Johnny B. Goode”  – This I can agree with.  As soon as you hear that intro guitar solo, you know what song it is.  The guitar makes the song, not the lyrics or singing.  You could argue that this was the first “guitar song.”
  2. “Purple Haze”  –  Classic Jimmy Hendrix,  I can’t argue with this.
  3. “Crossroads” –  No familiar with the song as much as others so I won’t “yay” or “nay” this.  But it’s Eric Clapton so I’m thinking that it’s probably a pretty good choice.
  4. “You Really Got Me”  –  I can see why they chose this because it has great groove that is instantly recognizable.  I prefer the Van Halen version instead of the Kinks, however.
  5. “Brown Sugar” – Like “You Really Got Me” I can see the choice but I wouldn’t consider it a top 5 guitar song of all time.
  6. “Eruption”  – I had to include this because this is the song by the man that inspired me to learn the guitar.  Eddie Van Halen transcended guitar throughout the 80’s and “Eruption” was his calling card.  Easily, should be 3 or 4 on this list, at least.

I won’t go through the complete list but many songs seemed to be chosen because of popularity instead of how it influenced guitar.  I agree with some choices but cannot believe some of the choices on the list.  Most notably, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which was rated at #10.


OK, I get it.  This song spoke to a lot of people and many loved/loves the mysteriousness of Kurt Cobain but a top 10 guitar song of all time?  I don’t think so.   Nirvana has it’s place in music history but this isn’t the list.


I’ve seen this before.  From sports, movies to music there will always be controversy/disagreements in these types of lists.   Who knows?  Maybe Rolling Stone did this to create a buzz on the article.  If so, then it worked.  I have a piece of advice for Rolling Stone, create a “Top 100 Guitarists of All Time” list and put that eight year old kid who got a perfect on Dragon Force in expert mode on Guitar Hero at #10.  That should generate some buzz.

Rolling Stone’s “Top 100 Guitar Songs” list

Other Songs That Won’t Make the List But Could Be:
Tommy Emmanuel (Angelina, Dixie McGuire)
Tommy Emmanuel Arrangements

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