“The Times They Are A-Changin ‘”, it says in the famous Bob Dylan song from 1964. So far this song was ranked 59th on the song best list of the “Rolling Stone”, something like the unofficial Bible, if you want to look up which song is actually more important – or on evenings with friends: to discuss whether this song by the Beatles or that by the Stones or The Who is more important.
After 17 years and without much fuss, “Rolling Stone” renewed its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” this fall and based itself on input from, as they say, “250 artists, songwriters and representatives from the industry “Agreed on a new list that now shows Franklin’s” Respect “from 1967 as the best song. “The Times They Are A-Changin ‘” actually dropped out of the 500 list. Marvin Gaye is still in the top ten and has dropped one place, Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Good” fell out of the top ten to 33rd place.
New top ten
In the top ten, white artists are in the minority – and a new age of artistic representation seems to have dawned. Six out of ten top ten places are from “People of Color”, and even more: the top three are now occupied by black artists. Bob Dylan (“Like a Rolling Stone”), so far in first place, the Rolling Stones (“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”), so far in second place, and John Lennon in third place (“Imagine”) are dated Fallen podium.
An anti-racist, feminist song tops the list. This is followed by Public Enemy with “Fight the Power” (1989), originally written for a film by Spike Lee, and “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke from 1964, an anthem of the civil rights movement. In addition to the question of socio-political representation, the list of “Rolling Stone” has become younger and fresher.
The rearrangements will certainly cause discussions. In any case, there can be no such thing as a compositional-aesthetic selection category alone in this genre – and whether a Beatles song is more complex than a snotty number by the Stones, the world will hopefully still be divided in 50 years. By then, “Rolling Stone” will probably have revised its list a few more times, if the magazine is still around.
„Respect“ als Signal
Aretha Franklin makes a big mark, because this song has already been placed high on the list of “Rolling Stone”. What remains is also the undisputed contribution of the 1960s to the canon of the most important pop songs of all time. Franklin’s song comes from this decade as well as seven others in the Top 20. No decade is still as style-defining for the magazine as this decade of social upheaval, which forms something like the basis of pop culture, from which it still lives today. Younger classics, such as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, which has just turned 30, has moved up from ninth to fifth.
Last list from 2004
The last list of the “Rolling Stone” comes from the year 2004. At that time the iPod was already on the market. Streaming models like Spotify did not yet exist. The digital music exchange took place via platforms such as Napster, the CD market still seemed reasonably intact.
The new list will definitely cause discussion. For the new Aretha Frankling biopic “Respect”, which was released in the US in August and which is planned for December in German-speaking countries, this list could have been a boost. If it hadn’t been so underplayed by the “Rolling Stone” itself.