Best songs of all time (Photo: Youtube)
Best songs of all time (Photo: Youtube)

Here is the 15 best and greatest songs that transcend time, capturing the heart and forever be the classics of all time.

1. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, 'Shop Around'

Writers: Berry Gordy, Robinson

Producer: Gordy

Released: Dec. '60, Tamla

16 weeks; No. 2

Robinson thought Barrett Strong should record "Shop Around," but Gordy persuaded Smokey that he was the right man for the song. After it came out, Gordy heard it on the radio and found it way too slow. He woke Robinson at 3 a.m. and called him back to the studio to re-cut it — faster and with Robinson's vocal more prominent. That one worked.

2. Weezer, 'Buddy Holly'

Writer: Rivers Cuomo

Producer: Ric Ocasek

Released: Aug. '94, DGC

21 weeks; No. 18

In the early 1990s, Cuomo had an awkward girlfriend who was routinely picked on. His efforts to stick up for her inspired Weezer's breakthrough, a track whose bubble-grunge hooks and lines such as "I look just like Buddy Holly/And you're Mary Tyler Moore" helped the band reach a nation of pop-minded suburban punks. It also earned Weezer autographed photos from the real Mary Tyler Moore.

3. The Rolling Stones, 'Miss You'

Writers: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards

Producers: The Glimmer Twins

Released: May '78, Rolling Stones

20 weeks; No. 1

The Stones were in Toronto, rehearsing for their classic gigs at the El Mocambo Club, when Jagger, jamming with R&B legend Billy Preston, came up with "Miss You." With a disco groove and a touch of the blues via a harmonica player they found in a Paris subway, it became the band's first Number One hit in five years. "It's not really about a girl," Jagger said. "The feeling of longing is what the song is."

4. David Bowie, 'Young Americans'

Writer: Bowie

Producer: Tony Visconti

Released: March '75, RCA

11 weeks; No. 28

In 1975, Bowie traded his glammed-out Ziggy Stardust persona for an exploration of what he called "plastic soul." Yet this R&B homage is one of his warmest, wildest tales, recorded in Philadelphia with a then-unknown Luther Vandross on backing vocals and David Sanborn wailing on sax. "It's about a newlywed couple who don't know if they really like each other," Bowie said.

5. LaBelle, 'Lady Marmalade'

Writers: Bob Crewe, Kenny Nolan

Producer: Allen Toussaint

Released: Jan. '75, Epic

18 weeks; No. 1

This hit about a Big Easy streetwalker remains in rotation 35 years after it hit Number One. The group was from Philadelphia, but the nasty groove was classic New Orleans, with producer Toussaint and his house band, legendary R&B stalwarts the Meters, funking up the beat. Thanks to the ladies of LaBelle, every disco fan now knows at least one line of French: "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?"

6. ‘No Woman, No Cry’ — Bob Marley

The best-known version of “No Woman, No Cry” isn’t the original version (on the 1974 studio album “Natty Dread”); it’s the version on the following year’s “Live!” — recorded at the Lyceum Theatre in London on July 17, 1975, as part of Marley’s Natty Dread Tour.

This song didn’t just change Marley’s life; he gave a songwriting credit to his childhood friend Vincent “Tata” Ford, which helped Ford keep his Kingston soup kitchen afloat.

7. ‘I Walk The Line’ — Johnny Cash

While he was stationed in Germany with the Air Force, Johnny Cash started working on “I Walk the Line.” It was many years later, in 1956, when he decided to record it, but realized that the original tape was damaged. However, this ended up being a bonus; he embraced the unique sound and added even more interest by wrapping a piece of wax paper around the strings of his guitar. And it gave him his first No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

“It was different than anything else you had ever heard,” Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone. “A voice from the middle of the Earth.”

8. ‘Let It Be’ — The Beatles

Often, the most tumultuous times spawn great creativity, and this was certainly true for Paul McCartney in 1968. The Beatles were falling apart, but McCartney found some comfort in a dream in which his late mother, Mary, gave him some words of advice. This inspired the opening lines of “Let it Be”: “When I find myself in times of trouble/Mother Mary comes to me.”

“Let it Be” was the title track of what would be The Beatles’ last studio album, released in March 1970, and it was the last single released by the band before their split was announced to the press.

9. ‘The Times They Are A-Changin” — Bob Dylan

Written by Bob Dylan as the title track of his 1964 album, “The Times They Are a-Changin” became an anthem for change. When it was released in the U.K. in 1965, it reached No. 9 on the singles chart; in the U.S., it failed to chart at all. Nonetheless, it remains one of Dylan’s most well-known and influential songs and has been covered by a slew of artists, including Nina Simone, Simon & Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, and Bruce Springsteen.

Dylan’s relationship with this particular song appears to be more complicated. It was a setlist regular from 1965 through 2009, when he dropped it.

10. ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ — The Who

“Behind Blue Eyes,” recorded in 1971, was reportedly inspired by Pete Townshend being tempted by a groupie at a Who concert in Denver the previous year. Instead of succumbing to temptation, Townshend reportedly went back to his hotel room alone and wrote a prayer, beginning with the words, “When my fist clenches, crack it open.” These words later appeared as lyrics in “Behind Blue Eyes.”

The song featured on the band’s fifth album “Who’s Next” and has been covered by numerous artists, most famously by Limp Bizkit in 2003.

11. ‘Hound Dog’ — Elvis Presley

“Hound Dog” was a hit for R&B singer Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton before Elvis Presley sang it, but it’s Presley’s version that ranks No. 19 on the Rolling Stone top 500. Presley included the song in his set list in 1956 after hearing Freddie Bell and the Bellboys perform it in Las Vegas. Famously, Presley serenaded a basset hound (wearing a top hat) on TV’s “Steve Allen Show” later that year.

Presley later said, “It was the most ridiculous appearance I ever did and I regret ever doing it.” But “Hound Dog” was his best-selling single, as well as one of the best-selling singles of all time.

12. ‘Rock Around The Clock’ — Bill Haley And The Comets

The best-known (and most successful) version of the rock ‘n’ roll classic “Rock Around the Clock” is by Bill Haley and The Comets. Released in 1954, it hit the top spot in the U.S. and U.K. charts — partly due to being played during the opening credits of the 1955 crime movie “The Blackboard Jungle.”

“Rock Around the Clock,” which was described by The Guardian as “the world’s first rock anthem,” caused rioting in cinemas in schools, was arguably the first teen anthem and paved the way for modern pop music.

13. ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side)’ — The Doors

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

The first track on The Door’s eponymous debut album, “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” was the band’s first single release. It didn’t do well on its first release, reaching only No. 126 on the U.S. charts, but it remains one of their best-known and most-loved tracks. In 1967, Jim Morrison revealed in an interview with Hit Parader magazine that he wrote this song when he was crossing canals in Venice.

“I was walking over a bridge,” he said. “I guess it’s one girl, a girl I knew at the time.” The band’s label, Elektra Records, deleted the word “high” from the line “she gets high,” in anticipation of a drug reference affecting the chance of radio airplay. In fact, all re-issues of the track had the word “high” deleted until the 1990s.

14. ‘Here Comes The Sun’ — The Beatles

Photo: Thedelite
Photo: Thedelite

“Here Comes the Sun” features on The Beatles’ 1969 album “Abbey Road.” Most Beatles songs were written by Paul McCartney and/or John Lennon, but this one was all down to George Harrison (and the increasing influence of Indian classical music on the band’s lead guitarist is clear).

Reportedly, Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun” at the home of his friend Eric Clapton, where he had gone in order to avoid attending a meeting at the band’s Apple Corps organization. It’s a firm favorite amongst Beatles fans, and as of January 2020, it’s the most streamed of all their songs in the U.K.

15. ‘The Sound Of Silence’ — Simon & Garfunkel

Ranking 10th in the Ranker community, Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was recorded in 1964 for inclusion on the duo’s debut album, “Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.” The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1966 and was a top 10 hit in many other countries, including Australia, Austria, West Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. It was also in the movie “The Graduate,” for which Simon & Garfunkel also wrote “Mrs. Robinson.”

In an interview with NPR, Paul Simon (who wrote the song at age 21) said the key to “The Sound of Silence” was “the simplicity of the melody and the words, which are youthful alienation.”

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