When I, a 5’2” Hispanic teenage girl, get publically enthusiastic about the aforementioned bands, the other girls in the vicinity nod, give me a faint smile, and subtly change the topic, while any guys around give me vaguely interested, yet amused looks. Yes, I am that girl who once stayed in on a Friday night to watch the 4-hour long Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Concert on HBO. I am also the girl who went to a U2 concert last October and considered it the best I had ever been to. And that application essay on the Stanford supplement, the one on what I wanted my roommate to know about me? Yeah. It still amazes me to this day that an essay on Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen helped me get into one of the top universities in the nation. Now, for those of you who aren’t quite at my level of enthusiasm (aka 90% of you), I recommend you at least give this type of music a try. Seriously, even if you consider it a dead music genre lost to the decades of free love, disco, and bad hairstyles, I think you would be surprised at the sheer variety of amazing songs available for your enjoyment.
But why listen to classic rock? Why not techno; why not Indie? Well, let me throw out my two cents: classic rock is exceptional for many reasons, but most importantly, no other genre of music came out of the context that classic rock did. There’s no denying that the 60s, 70s, and 80s were an especially turbulent and defining period of American history. Inevitably, a society like that is going to start producing music that responds to the cultural mindset of the time. Take Jimi Hendrix’s 1969 performance of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. You can literally hear the nation’s frustration with the ongoing Vietnam War as Hendrix (intentionally) distorts and downright mangles our beloved national anthem. U2’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, with its military drums and strained vocals, cries out against the violent religious warfare of 1980s Northern Ireland. Some songs take a stand against conformity while others call for world peace and unity. What I’m trying to get at is that music in this genre was never made just for music’s sake- no, classic rock always made a statement. Whether that statement was political, religious, or simply artistic, the meaning and impact of a song always went beyond the surface sound. And for me, that means classic rock will always carry more depth and intensity than any Top 40 pop song on the radio ever will.
My Top Ten Classic Rock Songs
10. Thunderstruck – AC/DC
9. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2
8. Signs – Five Man Electrical Band
7. Who are You – The Who
6. Roll with the Changes – REO Speedwagon
5. Bad – U2
4. Let it Be – The Beatles
3. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
2. Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones
1. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
*I realize that this in no way encompasses the scope of all classic rock has to offer, but this is just my personal top 10. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know ☺