These "greatest hits" compilations are completely arbitrary, but they can still be fun. The #1 guitar song is Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," so let's let it roll:
"If you want to play rock & roll," Joe Perry told Rolling Stone in 2004, "you have to start here." Recorded 50 years ago, on January 6th, 1958, at the Chess Records studio in Chicago, Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was the first great record about the joys and rewards of playing rock & roll guitar. It also has the single greatest rock & roll intro: a thrilling blast of high twang driven by Berry's spearing notes, followed by a rhythm part that translates a boogie-woogie piano riff for the guitar. "He could play the guitar just like a-ringing a bell," Berry sings in the first verse — a perfect description of his sound and the reverberations still running through every style of rock guitar, from the Beatles and the Stones on down. "It was beautiful, effortless, and his timing was perfection," Keith Richards has said of Berry's playing. "He is rhythm man supreme." Berry wrote often about rock & roll and why it's good for you — "Roll Over Beethoven" in 1956, "Rock and Roll Music" in '57 — but never better than in "Johnny B. Goode," a true story about how playing music on a guitar can change your life forever.I've actually been mulling the question of history's greatest rock-and-roll hits, especially guitar anthems, since I've been writing my "lightening up" series.
It turn's out that #7 on the list is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," one of the initial songs I wrote about here.
Not included among the "100 greatest songs" are any of Mick Ronson's power hits when he was David Bowie's sideman in the early 1970s. I've been planning a couple of posts on Bowie soon, but I'm not the only one who took exception to Ronson's exclusion:
OK, let me get this straight. No Mick Ronson, like "Moonage Daydream." A guy who did so many unbelivable things with the guitar...The comment thread's got a few more folks getting much more animated.
The issues's also got interviews with guitar heroes like Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen. Here's Van Halen on some of the classic bands, like the Kinks:
I just like songs. I don't mean to sound like a prick or nothin', but I've never really been that much of a fan of bands outside of Cream. And I don't really listen to anything nowadays. The last record I might've bought was Peter Gabriel's So. With Cream, I was more a fan of their interaction live. You know, they were an example of "What's the difference between jazz and rock & roll? We just play louder." That's all. We get 12 notes. Do what the f**k you want with 'em, you know.I'll have more, so have a great night!