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Top Rock songs of the 70s

By Edited Oct 12, 2016 1 5

The Best Rock and Roll Songs Of The 70's

top 10 rock songs from the 70's

Number 10- Let's Stay Together by Al Green

Released as a single in 1971 "Lets Stay Together" managed to reach the top of Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks and was voted the 60th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine. in 2010 the Library of Congress added the song to the Nation Recording Registry which recognizes songs that are culturally and historically relevant.

This Rock song is about unconditional love and being able to get through the good patches as well as the bad, and is a common wedding song. Recently Barack Obama sang this song at a fundraiser in New York at the Apollo Theater


simon and garfunkel

Number 9- Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel

 The single was released on January 26th 1970 but also appeared on "Live 1969" released in 2008. It was the title song of Simon and Garfunkel's last album "Bridge Over Troubled Water". The song reached the top of Billboard Top 100 on february 28 1970 where it remained for the next 6 weeks.

During the writing and recording process the tensions between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel became clear and played a major role in the break up of the duo. 


Number 8- Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

 Written by Freddie Mercury for the 1975 album "A night at the opera". After being released as a single the song became an instant success reaching the top of the UK singles chart for nine weeks and selling over a million copies  by the end of January 1976. It reached the top of the charts again in 1991 for five weeks after the passing of Freddie Mercury.

Freddie Mercury reportedly began working on the song in the late 1960's composing different parts of the song on the piano. Recording didn't begin until August 24th 1975 


derek and the dominoes

Number 7- Layla by Derek And The Dominoes

 Written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon under the blues rock band "Derek And The Dominoes", Layla is one of the most defining rock songs of all time.

The song was inspired by Eric Clapton's love for Pattie Boyd. She was the wife of his friend George Harrison. The song was originally unsuccessful however two versions eventually achieved success in the charts. The first in 1972 and the second which was an acoustic version won the 1993 Grammy for best rock song and in 2004, ranked #27 in Rolling Stone's top 500 songs of all time.


Number 6- Superstition by Stevie Wonder

 Superstition is a song written, performed, produced and arranged all by Stevie Wonder when he was only 22 years old. The song reached #1 in the USA as well as the top of the soul singles chart. In November 2004 Rolling Stone ranked it #74 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Jeff Beck created the signature opening drum beat and was offered the song to record however he then accepted "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" which he recorded on "Blow by Blow"


bruce springsteen

Number 5- Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

 Born To Run was Springsteen's last-ditch effort to make it big in the music industry. The year before he had released two critically acclaimed albums however did not convert any commercial success. Recording of Born to Run ended on August 6th 1974 but was not released until august of the following year.

As Bruce Springsteen's first worldwide single release, the song did not see much success outside of the United States. In the US it achieved rank #23 on the Billiard Hot 100. In more recent years The rolling Stone placed Born to Run at #21 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


Number 4- What's Going On by Marvin Gaye

 What's Going On is a song by recording artist Marvin Gaye, released in 1971. Inspiration for the song is said to lie behind an incident of police brutality witnessed by Renaldo "Obie" Benson and as a meditation of the troubles in the world. Benson was one of the composers of the song working alongside Al Cleveland as well as Gaye.

The song marked the end of Gaye's Motown sound as he branched off into more personal material. The song would soon after top the "Hot Soul Singles" chart and reach #2 in the "Billboard Top 100" selling over 2 million copies making this Gaye's most popular Motown song ever.



Number 3- Imagine by John Lennon

 Imagine is a song written and performed by the famed English musician John Lennon and sets its focus on challenging the listener to think of a world at peace; free of religious, racist, and nationalist discriminations.

The inspiration for the song stemmed from two major sources. The overlying concept of positive prayer came from a christian prayer-book given to him and Yoko Ono by a Dick Gregory. Many of the lyrics took inspiration from the poems of Yoko Ono's book "Grapefruit".

In 2004 Rolling Stone named Imagine the number 3 song in their list of the "top 500 songs of all time", calling it "John Lennon's greatest musical gift to the world". Other recognition includes the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) naming imagine the greatest song in the past 100 years voted by listeners.


Number 2- Hotel California by The Eagles

 Hotel California is the title song of the album "Hotel California" and was released as a single in February 1977. Writing credit for the song is shared between Don Felder, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey. The original recording of the song features the lead vocals being sung by Henley and an extended section of the guitar interlay between Felder and Joe Walsh.

On the suface the lyrics seem to tell the tale of a traveller who becomes trapped in a once inviting luxury hotel that has become nightmarish. The deeper underlying messages refer to the hedonism, self-destruction and greed that plagued the music industry in the 1970's. Henley also described it as their interpretation of the underbelly of the high life in Los Angeles.

The abstract lyrics have left the nature of the song open to interpretation by the listener and has led to many ideas such as the Hotel California being the church of Satan in San Francisco, as well as the Camarillo State Mental Hospital.

The single did not originally bode well with critics. The Rolling Stone later ranked Hotel California #49 on its list of the "Top 500 Songs Of All Time". It is also part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 songs that shaped rock and roll. The Guitar solo ranks #8 on Guitar Magazine's "Top 100 Guitar Solos" and voted the best guitar solo of all time by the readers of Guitarist Magazine.


Number 1- Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

stairway to heaven


 Stairway to Heaven is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin released in late 1971. The song was composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant for the Bands fourth album commonly called Led Zeppelin IV.

The song originated in 1970 when Jimmy Page and Robert Plank spent time at Bron-Yr-Aur, a remote cottage in Wales after the groups' fifth American tour. Page says that the music came together over a long period but the original idea for "Stairway" came together in that cottage from bits of taped music.

The song has also faced many allegations of satanic messaging through backward masking of the lyrics. The alleged satanic message appears in the middle section of the song,  "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now" when played backwards the message "Here's to my sweet Satan" and "I sing because I live with Satan" can be heard. The allegations were for the most part ignored but when acknowledged they met nothing but frustration. Robert Plank stated in an interview with Musician Magazine, "To me it's very sad, because 'Stairway to Heaven' was written with every best intention, and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that's not my idea of making music."

In 2004 Rolling Stone ranked Stairway to Heaven #31 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of all time". In an article from January 2009 Guitar World Magazine ranked Jimmy Page's guitar solo as the number one solo on their list of the "100 greatest guitar solos in rock and roll history"





Dec 5, 2012 6:51am
Great list! I especially love "Imagine" by Lennon and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by S&G.
Dec 5, 2012 3:44pm
Funny list, you young whippersnapper. Leave them to those of us in diapers who have a clue. No Stones, no Dylan, no Neil, no CCR, no...., oh forget it.

I DO especially like the fact that you included the 60th best song in the Top Ten. Do you even read what you write?
Dec 6, 2012 6:03am
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen is my favorite.
I am surprised, that the Stones didn't make it to the top ten on the list.
Dec 6, 2012 8:52am
Yea I apologize for no stones. Personally I am not a stones fan so there a bit of personal bias in the article :(
May 27, 2013 11:11pm
"We're going to be laying down a lot more 'Galileos' today, darling!" -Freddie Mercury. Ultimately they stripped the master tape almost to transparency.

"Does anyone remember laughter?!" -Robert Plant on the live "Stairaway..."

A very well-researched and well written article!
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