Sometimes you learn more about people’s taste from what they don’t like than from what they do like.
Keeping that in mind, I’m asking people to post their choices for worst song by each of five key ’60s/’70s artists. The only caveat is that the songs should be from the prime parts of their career (ie, nothing from Empire Burlesque from Dylan, no ’90s Stones songs, no solo McCartney, and no live or otherwise alternate versions of songs.) I’m more interested in the “why” than I am which song people choose, so please back up your choices!
The artists are
- The Beatles
- The Rolling Stones
- The Who
- Led Zeppelin
- Bob Dylan.
My choices follow the jump.
Beatles: “Long And Winding Road.” Yes, Spector was a big part of the problem, as reasonably inoffensive acoustic versions will attest. But this song will always hold a special place in the back of my brain because it most clearly marks the point at which Paul no longer could tell the difference between his good songs and those that go way over the edge of cheesiness. It’s directly responsible for “My Love,” “Ebony & Ivory,” etc…
Rolling Stones: “Dear Doctor.” It always baffled me how critics who love BEGGAR’S BANQUET gave this stinker a pass. I often criticize the Stones for their sexism, but at least stuff like “Stupid Girl,” “Some Girls,” and “Under My Thumb” have some bite to them. This is just a dumb hillbilly joke with a cloying melody and unfunny Jagger mannerism. I can see something like this as a non-LP B-side, but to put something with such lack of substance on one of their truly great albums is proof that they didn’t really care, if you ask me.
The Who: “Long Live Rock.” In general, songs about rock and roll annoy the heck out of me, so that’s an instant strike against it. But it’s worse than that, an attempt at some kind of anthem with all of the pretense of any prog band and none of the substance. It also shows Daltrey at levels of self-importance every bit as bad as his worst singing on Who Are You (“Sister Disco” was a prime contender for this choice…)
Bob Dylan: “Joey.” What in the world was he thinking? This song is so ridiculously wrong-minded that it even calls into question whether the superior “Hurricane” has any legitimacy. Not only is “Joey” on the wrong side of the fence, it’s got a really weak chorus (the “blow you away” bit is particularly embarrassing). If you are going to drag a song out for 10 minutes, you should at least have the decency to make it more melodic than this.
Led Zeppelin: “Sick Again.” This was my toughest choice, because even the songs I dislike by them generaly show some sort of creative spark, I think, and it wasn’t really fair to list “Moby Dick” (all drum solos suck, and at least this one has a cool guitar hook before it gets to the sucking) or any of the truly godawful live versions on SONG REMAINS THE SAME (or else the live “Stairway To Heaven” would be my pick), so I chose this song, which has always struck me as a big piece of nothing.
The Long and Winding Road is from the “prime part” of the Beatles career?
The Beatles: “Long and Winding Road” is a good choice, it sucks with and without strings. Anyone ever hear the Al Jarreau-esque smooth jazz version Macca cut for Give My Regards to Broad St.? But, taking BigSteve’s caveat into account, it’s time for me once again put forth my controversial view that “P.S. I Love You” is the worst Beatles song. Again with the lounge music, Paulie!
Rolling Stones: “Going Home,” that 14-minute snooze from Aftermath
The Who: “Silas Stingy,” or is it unfair to put forth an Entwistle tune? I can’t get through that deeply irritating, cutesy, baroque chorus.
Bob Dylan: Technically, “Joey” isn’t from prime-era Dylan. How about “Ballad in Plain D”? Bob at his pushiest and creepiest towards the ladies, and the tune’s pretty blah too.
Zep: “Living Loving Maid.” They’re really going through the motions on this one, and it never seems to end. Although I saw Quasi tear through a great cover of this once.
I’d say all of the Beatles’ career is the “prime” part. Same with Led Zeppelin.
As to Dylan…I think his truly classic period ended with DESIRE, but I suppose that’s arguable (and allows us to include songs from SELF PORTRAIT.)
Another Dylan song I’ve always hated is “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.”
“Living Loving Maid” is one of my favorite Led Zep tunes, Oats. I thought we were tight…
I agree with Pudman that the Beatles’ entire career is “prime.”
Oh man, I love this one as well as the rest of The Who Sell Out.
The “Heartbreaker”/”Living Loving Maid” sequence on II rules. Surely being paired up like that must help its case, no? Anyway I like “Living Loving Maid”. It’s not quite as fast and furious (for them) as “Communication Breakdown”, which is almost punk-like (it’s been covered by D.O.A.) but it’s a similar almost ’50s rock and roll style Zep song and I generally like those, even “Rock and Roll” though like Mr. Mod I generally can’t stand songs about rock.
Anyway I’ll pass on the other artists, but I’ve never been able to stand “The Crunge”. I know it was their attempt at funk and though the ending “where was that …bridge” is great, the song is just weak and mars an otherwise great album.
The Beatles, Mr. Kite. It’s like a concept song in search of a concept. Bad idea to try to make a song out of multiple loops of cheesy organ.
Stones, I Got the Blues. Pointless sensitive-Jagger exercise. More cheesy organ.
The Who, Squeeze Box. Ye olde double-entendre. Might possibly sound edgy to people who frequent Renaissance Fairs.
Led Zeppelin, Whole Lotta Love. I don’t think even the stellar guitar solo can redeem the middle part where Plant shows just how terrible he is when he goes off script.
The Beatles, “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road”: As much as I personally hate “She’s a Woman,” I think “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” (either version) is the worst they put on record. It’s a goofy, faux-raunchy joke that I find embarrassing to listen to. It’s the part of McCartney I like least, even least than his mama’s boy, the sun will shine tomorrow excesses.
Rolling Stones: Wow, which of the bad songs I can’t listen to on so many of their Mick Taylor-era albums would I pick if only I could recall their names? “Angie” is an easy choice, but that’s not a terrible song. Here’s an early song from the period I love best that I don’t like: their version of “Little Red Rooster,” or whatever that blues workout is called. The 14-minute turd Pudman cited probably is worse, but I never listen to that one, not even the opening notes.
The Who: “Long Live Rock” is a great suggestion, but there are at least a few parts to that song that I can get a good laugh from as well as ideas to steal for my own music. The Who song that has the least use for me among their prime era is “Legal Matter.” It doesn’t possess the powers of a Who song. It’s them trying to be the Stones and/or Dylan and adding nothing of their own to it. It’s the first sign that, no, The Who wouldn’t be better if Townshend was the lead vocalist.
Bob Dylan: He’s got a lot of those “Bob Dylan’s Talkin’ Topical Blues” song from the early albums that mean nothing to me, and I’m not fan of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” thanks to the ponderous cover versions more than anything. The worst song, albeit a toe-tapper, is that “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts” song. It’s Dylan as Don McLean. I don’t need that.
Led Zeppelin: I think I despise every 10-minute blooz workout that they sequence into just about each of their albums. It’s hard to pick a worst one, but because “No Quarter” is a little longer than “The Lemon Song,” and because it breaks up one of my favorite, fun-rockin’ Zeppelin album sides, I’ll go with “No Quarter.” Pudman’s choice of “Sick Again” may actually be the worst song they ever put to tape, but I rarely listen to all but a handful of songs on Physical Graffiti.
Least favorite Beatles tune – Mr. Moonlight. Okay, they didn’t write it. But what compelled them to record this tune? Lennon turns in a compelling vocal, but they sound like they’re holding their noses while they sing.
I’m not the biggest classic rocker and outside the Stones I can find a lot to not like from the others. I can find a lot to like in most cases, too though.
The Beatles – Hey Jude. 7 minutes? Out of an idea that had maybe enough for 2 1/2? It starts off boring, and then it’s like they found a way to make it even more boring by adding “na, na, na’s” for an hour at the end. Blech.
The Stones – My classic period probably lasts WAY longer than everyone else. And with Beggars Banquet I’m not giving Dear Doctor a pass, I genuinely like it. A lot. That would be the greatest album ever if Exile didn’t exist. I could chicken out and pick some obscure bootleg or something, but I get the question and I won’t be afeared. I could pick something like Sing This All Together (See What Happens), but at least they were trying something new. I’m going with Take It Or Leave it. What is up with that “Ooh la la ta ta la ta ta la ta ta” shit? What a crappy song.
The Who – I’m assuming anything with Keith Moon alive is fair game here? I’ll go with Guitar and the Pen. It’s so awkward, like it was just a few ideas and they just didn’t have anything else to say at that point. There’s some really average stuff on Who By Numbers, but this one is the kind of thing any of the other bands on this list would have just dropped, hopefully in the demo stage.
Led Zeppelin – I’m not the guy to ask. I think I hate them more than is considered rational. So I’ll just use one song that I think explains why I hate them so much. They’re fake. But the most fake, awful song of all is probably The Battle of Evermore. I’ll never deny that yes, I really did play D&D, but I never listened to songs about it.
But I am going to give them another chance soon. But I think I’ll skip that song.
Bob Dylan – I like Bob, but I don’t love him. So I’m probably missing out on some of his real crappy stuff. But I really don’t think I hate any of his stuff, I just think it’s boring. So I’ll go with Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. It just goes on and on. That was a double lp, right? Did anyone play that side more than once? The cd and it’s one side probably brought that song out of total obscurity.
Beatles — Rocky Raccoon
Stones — pretty much anything from the first albums … I Just Want To Make Love To You (way over their heads on that)
Dylan — Senor
The Who — Bucket T
Led Zeppelin — I don’t really like any Led Zeppelin … pick anything … they don’t belong on this list
Big Steve, I am there with you man, but “Senor”? That is a strange weird filmic mysterious song.
I’ll go with “Silas Stingy” and its Gnome Rockness for The Who as well.
Also siding with those who think Oats is nuts for coming out against “Living Loving Maid,” especially as part of the excellent Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid combo attack. “All My Love” doesn’t do anything for me, though. Also, “In The Light” ends up as a huge failure if you compare it against the “In The Morning” demo version, which chops out a lot of the off-putting synth stuff that kills the released version. That would probably be my pick for a rock song that made the worst transition from demo to final product.
Picking a worst song for The Beatles is hard because the handful of lesser songs are usually saved by a great vocal performance. I like “PS I Love You”, especially when heard in its proper environment, which is on a tinny transistor radio on Oldies 98 (plug in your equivalent oldies station). Seriously, that’s the ideal way to hear it.
I’m assuming we’re talking official releases for everyone here, or I’d probably nominate “How Do You Do It?” off the first Anthology, which definitely has the sound of them writing for someone else and not Lennon. I’ll go back to “When I Get Home.” In its favor: good Lennon vocal, rhyming “if you please” and “trivialities”. Against: “I’m gonna love you till the cows come home.” It sticks out even worse as the only loser on the otherwise perfect side 2 of A Hard Day’s Night.
You guys are picking on me for hating “Living Loving Maid,” but Dr. John picks “Whole Lotta Love” and no one says a word!
What is the mouthful of mush that Plant sings at the beginning of Living Loving Maid? My friends used to get pissed when I’d yell, “She’s a purple operetta with a fat smelly air,” and then crack up and mess up their Rock Moment.
Oats, Dr. John’s been a full-fledged Rock Town Hall Kook since Day 1 (no offense, Good Doctor)! We expect this sort of comment from him, but “Living Loving Maid,” especially as part of the double-shot, is the kind of Zeppelin song even Zeppelin haters usually admit to liking!
These days you can’t count on commercial radio stations playing “Living Loving Maid” immediately after “Heartbreaker,” a rule that could only be violated in my youth during an alphabetical Led Zeppelin A-Z Weekend. Just last week we were in the car and “Heartbreaker” came on. As it neared its conclusion I told my boys to cross their fingers and hope for a song called “Living Loving Maid” to follow. For the first time in I don’t remember how long, the Classic Rock station came through and adhered to the old Double Shot rule. It was awesome.
I thought it was refreshing to see “Whole Lotta Love” mentioned. That middle section is a huge stinker, in my opinion.
Everyone knows it’s “with a purple operator and a fifty-cent hair.” Duh!
For the Stones, I’ll go with Jigsaw Puzzle. At least on Dear Doctor, Jagger’s kind of “taking the piss”, as they say over there. In Jigsaw Puzzle, he appears to be going for some kind of Big Theme/Deep Issue but ends up sounding like he’s trying way to hard. Also, I don’t know much about music theory but the music never resolves (I think that’s the right term). I think that’s a tricky move to pull off and I don’t think it works here.
For Zeppelin, I don’t think you can count In Through The Out Door. They were done by then. I would say Kashmir. Not a bad riff, but it goes on as long as a midnight mass. Maybe that’s the point but it has always been a needle lifter for me.
I agree with Hey Jude. Might have been ignorable but for the lengthy outro and the “Jude-a-Jude-a-Jude-a-Ow Wow Wow” nonsense.
For Dylan, Rainy Day Women. Everybody must get stoned, get it?
purple UMBRELLA and a fifty cent HAT
I hate Bucket T with great intensity, but I’m gonna leave out bad covers in my list.
The Beatles – Dig It. I don’t even think it’s a song, it’s a laundry list of stuff that rattles into John’s brain with a crappy boring riff going on over and over.
The Rolling Stones – probably Miss You, likely the Bee Gees didn’t miss it much.
I actually like Take Or Leave It, mostly for the odd rhythm of it.
The Who – I’ll leave disposable Entwistle tunes out of this too, but while Moon is still there, Love Is Coming Down is pretty wretched.
Led Zeppelin, lotso boring ones to choose from, and you guys have done well, but I don’t wanna be a copycat, so how about Since I’ve Been Loving You. Defintely skipped it, interrupting the perennial searching for the proper positioning of the pinwheel in the album cover.
Bob Dylan – Gotta Serve Somebody just rubs me the wrong way. No tip for you, Dylan.
I think it would be better to choose a stinker from the height of a band’s creative output. I mean, picking something from, say, the Who’s It’s Hard is like shooting fish in a barrel. “Athena”? “Eminence Front”? (although there are some interesting bits in the beginning solo). How about turds from the height of awesomeness? I can’t stand “Harry Rag” by the Kinks, myself. Not a big fan of the Who’s “The Seeker”. Terrible lyric, that one.
Yes, “The Seeker” blows! Good one, Tvox. I, too, have little use for “Harry Rag,” but at least it has some energy.
I don’t know if this was intentional, but the interesting thing about this thread is that everybody feels as though other people are picking good songs as an artist’s worst ever. I like Mr. Moonlight, Take It Or Leave It, and Harry Rag.
Beatles: there are a number of Beatles tunes that I think basically suck. I’m going to pick one from the waning years of their illustrious career, since that’s where most of the turds can be found, in my judgement. For me, the chief offense of latter-day Beatles was a certain smug laziness — and the song that best exemplifies this bad rock attitude is “For You Blue.” Gawd, does that song blow! It’s like the worst white-man blooz band — the one that insists on taking the stage after everybody’s drunk at the accounting firm’s holiday party. The guitars sound like shit, the lyric is inane, the slide work is stupid — it’s the sound of nobody caring anymore. Pee-YOU.
Stones: “Something Happened To Me.” I have *no* problem with the whole English dance hall thing. But the Stones suck at it. I suppose, like any good English band, they had to try it at least once — but that doesn’t mean they had to release it.
Who: I don’t know, maybe one of those endless fuzz guitar noodle-fests on “Live at Leeds.” Enough already! There are also vast stretches of “Tommy” I never listen to. For me, that album is not enjoyable.
Dylan: n/a, I have a hard enough time picking the stuff I *do* like.
Zeppelin: Yeah, one of those blooz wank-a-thons. There’s a whole lot of “Presence” that sounds lifeless and brittle to me.
Seger: Definitely “Against the Wind.” Dude jumped the shark with that one.
By the way, just to prove that these aren’t unanimous feelings, I love every single second of both “Hey Jude” and “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” “Lily, Rosemary & The Jack Of Hearts” too.
Hello Goodbye-I’ve said this before here in the hall. Few songs are this pointless, by any band. and that ending: hey-la hey hello-ah-BLARF!!!
Brown Sugar-gotta blame this one on classic rock radio. I probably would not mind it so much if it weren’t on the short list of songs that got played 10 times a day from 1970 until right now. It’s just not that good.
5:15-I hate songs about trains. I almost picked 1 after 909 for the Silver Beatles. Also horns and Who-more dangerous than drinking and driving.
Tangerine-Acoustic Zep is almost always a letdown.
Knockin on Heaven’s Door-i’m sure there’s something worse than this, but I don’t know enough about Dylan to say.