Jan 132011

The wisdom of The Hall continues to amaze me. For as many knowledgeable individuals who dazzle with their rock knowledge, it is the collective wisdom of our participants that I find most dazzling.

It is in this spirit that I want to allow for further amazement—not only for the people but by the people. Rather than turn this into my own original post, maybe even do a few minutes of research on the Web, I thought better of it. Instead, I’d like to pose a question on behalf of a fellow Townsperson to the collective wisdom of The Orockle.

Townsman cherguevarra has a question he’d like to pose—and one that he hopes will inspire other questions we’d like to have asked when we had more time to find the answers ourselves. Read on, please.Said cherguevarra:

Here in this somewhat abandoned corner, I’d like to mention an undeveloped idea I have for a thread. Using the wisdom of all present, I wonder if we can come up with a list of the top most archetypal songs of all time. I even wonder if some of the songs I presume are archetypal are actually based on some more obscure song. Maybe we can narrow it down to the top 10 or 20.

Off the top of my head, some songs that might qualify for this would be: Be My Baby, Taxman and You Can’t Hurry Love, just for starters.

Oh Mighty Orockle, can you help us answer this question—and others, if it’s not too much bother?


  28 Responses to “Consult the Orockle: What Are the Most Archetypal Songs of All Time?”

  1. I hope this question gets through to The Orockle, cher. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Considering that the “Phil Spector Sound” is one of rock’s archetypal sounds, “Be My Baby” may be the best song to represent that sound. “Taxman” is a possible addition to this list, too, but the first Beatles’ song that comes to mind for me (thanks to The Orockle, of course) is “Ticket to Ride.” Did that beat come from out of Ringo’s soul, or is it an adaptation of some earlier beat, like the Phil Spector beat?

  2. shawnkilroy

    Blitzkreig Bop
    Under My Thumb
    Good Times Bad Times
    My Generation
    The End(doors)

  3. Love Hurts (Everly Brothers)
    Your Really Got Me (Kinks)
    Eight Miles High (The Byrds)

  4. Johnny B Goode
    Bo Didley
    Louie Louie
    For Your Love

  5. Johnny B Good
    Mannish Boy
    September Gurls

  6. Satisfaction
    Cinnamon Girl
    Sweet Jane
    Summertime Blues

  7. cherguevara

    Eleanor Rigby, specifically its influence on string parts.
    What’s Going On
    Good Vibrations

  8. “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

  9. sammymaudlin

    All Day And All Of The Night (Kinks)

  10. Genius of Self Love

  11. I don’t have time to read this yet, but does this somehow lead back to My Points About Talking Heads?

  12. misterioso

    The Yardbirds’ recording of I’m a Man. It seems to me that 75% of garage-band recordings that followed used it as a template.

  13. Definitely not. This interview actually never mentions David Byrne.

  14. misterioso

    And Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues–though in fairness one could push that one back to Chuck’s Too Much Monkey Business.

  15. pudman13

    Nobody’s mentioned Gloria yet.

  16. misterioso

    Yeah, absolutely. Every once in a while I remind myself that someone actually sat down and wrote Gloria, as opposed to its always having existed; let alone that that person was Van Morrison, for God’s sake.

  17. cliff sovinsanity

    The Beatles – She’s A Mover
    Blue Cheer – Summertime Blues
    The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop

    and dare I suggest Kurtis Blow – The Breaks

  18. cherguevara

    See, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talkin’ about! The most famous song might have a less well-known, or unlikely predecessor.

  19. hrrundivbakshi

    Not completely sure I understand the challenge here, but if there was ever a template for the party-metal song — antecedent of 80s hair/pop/metal — it might well be “Dance the Night Away” by Van Fuckin’ Halen.

  20. cherguevara

    I guess I was thinking that people might second some of these suggestions, thus coming to agree on a list of most influential or imitated songs. It’s not well defined, for sure, and runs the risk of going down the tangent of naming songs that are derived from, say, September Gurls.

  21. pudman13

    If you want any of us to second other people’s choices, I’ll second:

    Bo Diddley
    Johnny B. Goode
    Louie Louie
    Subterranean Homesick Blues

    weird that no particular Beatles song comes to mind…I guess it’s more of a blend of their early songs that would have that kind of effect

  22. misterioso

    (Puffs on a rare old briar, looks thoughtfully into space.) We’re all links in a chain, man. (Puffs again.)

  23. misterioso

    Cliff, I think you mean The Beatles’ “The Ballad of El Goodo and Yoko.” Or perhaps “What Goes Ahn”?

  24. misterioso

    Gurls on Film.

  25. The ones that sound right immediately with no further thought are:
    Subterranean Homesick Blues
    You Really Got Me
    Blitzkreig Bop
    Genius of Love

    Two new proposals:
    I Got You (I Feel Good)
    Range Life

  26. cliff sovinsanity

    I blame that typo on the Captain Morgan. Obviously, I was thinking about SDQ’s ripping of She’s A Woman.
    How about Oh My Rubber Soul

  27. To help us come to agreement on the 10-15 most archetypal songs of all time, do we need to agree on what it means for a song to be archetypal? Without consulting a dictionary, I take it to mean a song that can always be referred to by musicians and music fans to describe a style or intended style. I don’t know that it necessarily needs to be the FIRST example of this song, because citing some obscure song that led to, say, “Johnny B. Goode,” doesn’t help communicate an idea.

    It seems to me that everybody knows what’s meant by a “Chuck Berry riff” or “Chuck Berry-style song,” right? That tells me there needs to be a Chuck Berry song on this list. No one ever means “Almost Grown” or “Around and Around.” What’s meant is any one of Berry’s songs that open with his trademark riff and tell a story over a 12-bar blues structure. That opening riff reappears midway through any of these songs. The rhythm guitar hammers on and off the 6th note. Simple: “Johnny B. Goode” may be the best representation of all that’s meant by a “Chuck Berry song,’ especially because the song is self-referential and, unlike “Roll Over Beethoven,” is only associated with Berry.

    “Louie Louie” needs to be on this list. So does “Bo Diddley,” because no one uses that beat without referring to that song. Although it’s also a beat-specific reference, I’d say “Ticket to Ride” may be the one Beatles song that needs to be on the list. How many songs have been structured around that beat since that song was released, and did anyone ever think they were referring to any song but “Ticket to Ride?”

    Just some thoughts on how we might narrow these down. I’d also agree with whatever Kinks chord-riff song came first (even though musicians sometimes forget that those songs preceded “Can’t Explain” and think they’re referring to that song). I’d agree with “Gloria,” although I wonder if musicians today still know that song as the archetype of all songs structured around that chord progression and rhythm.

    I have few beefs with other songs suggested, for that matter, although I’d say “Like a Rolling Stone” may be the Dylan archetype. What singer-songwriter hasn’t tried his or her hand at such a song? “Subterranean Homesick Blues” strikes me as more of a “novelty” archetype, but I could easily be wrong.

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