My 50 Favorite Songs Ever

…at least according to a ballot I submitted to Rolling Stone in early 2021. Any other day I might have voted, the list would have been at least a little different, maybe a lot different. Only time I ever made a list like this before was a 100 Favorite Songs Ever list I did for Phil Dellio’s fanzine Radio On sometime in the early/mid ’90s (which I dug out for reference while putting this together — there’s overlap, but not all that much overlap.) In 2020, Rolling Stone asked for a 50 Favorite Albums list for a poll they were doing, and I never got around to sending them one — Just seemed like too much work to figure out, especially for free, especially since they hadn’t given me any paid assignments for a few years by then, and especially since I was still in the midst of relistening to my entire LP and CD collection in preparation for the 150-count Best Of Whatever Year lists you can see all over this blog.

For the singles poll (which I’m pretty sure was technically a “songs” poll but old habits die hard), though, I figured I could just more or less wing it, so I did. There was actually a fancy ballot form I could have filled out online, but since I correctly anticipated moving songs up and down and on and off my list while finalizing the thing, the ballot struck me as both impractical and daunting, so I opted to just email them a list instead. That list is below. The dearth of songs from the ’90s and later probably just means I’m old (and honest). The dearth of songs from outside the English-speaking world, or at least songs from outside that world that aren’t actually sung in English, probably just means I’m ignorant. And at least two of the oldest songs, I realized after I sent this in, are at least somewhat racially insensitive. Okay, probably very. But I wasn’t thinking about that when I was making the list — I just was trying to remember which records I loved most, regardless.

  1. Funky Four Plus One – That’s the Joint (1980)
  2. Pere Ubu – Final Solution (1976)
  3. The Sweet – Ballroom Blitz (1975)
  4. Teena Marie – Square Biz (1981)
  5. Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls (1986)
  6. William DeVaughn – Be Thankful For What You Got (1974)
  7. Trickeration – Western Gangster Town (1980)
  8. The Cellos – Rang Tang Ding Dong (I Am the Japanese Sandman) (1957)
  9. Off – Electrica Salsa (Baba Baba) (1986)
  10. Thin Lizzy – The Boys are Back in Town (1976)
  11. Brenton Wood – The Oogum Boogum Song (1967)
  12. Skatt Bros – Walk the Night (1979)
  13. Althea and Donna – Uptown Top Ranking (1978)
  14. The Stooges – 1969 (1969)
  15. Desmond Dekker & the Aces – Israelites (1969)
  16. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band – Night Moves (1976)
  17. Donna Summer – I Feel Love (1977)
  18. The Spinners – They Just Can’t Stop It (Games People Play) (1975)
  19. Rammellzee & K-Rob – Beat Bop (1983)
  20. Swingin’ Medallions – Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love) (1966)
  21. Anne Murray – Snowbird (1970)
  22. Telex – Moskow Diskow (1979)
  23. The Diamonds – Little Darlin’ (1957)
  24. Alice Cooper – Teenage Lament ’74 (1973)
  25. Dev – In My Trunk (2011)
  26. Shannon – Let the Music Play (1983)
  27. Dionne Warwick – Do You Know the Way to San José (1968)
  28. Boney M – Rasputin (1978)
  29. Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes – Bad Luck (1975)
  30. Terri Gibbs – Somebody’s Knockin’ (1981)
  31. Tavares – It Only Takes a Minute (1975)
  32. John Cougar – Jack and Diane (1982)
  33. The Fleetwoods – (He’s) the Great Imposter (1961)
  34. Geto Boys – Mind Playing Tricks on Me (1991)
  35. Smokey Wood and the Modern Mountaineers – Everybody’s Truckin’ (1937)
  36. Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts – Angel of the Morning (1968)
  37. Dion and the Belmonts – I Wonder Why (1958)
  38. Harmonica Frank Floyd – Rockin’ Chair Daddy (1954)
  39. John Fred & His Playboy Band – Judy in Disguise (With Glasses) (1967)
  40. Nena – 99 Luftballons (1983)
  41. Gibson Brothers – Cuba (1979)
  42. The Boomtown Rats – Rat Trap (1978)
  43. Babe Ruth – The Mexican (1972)
  44. Freddie Cannon – Palisades Park (1962)
  45. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly – Golden Time of the Day (1978)
  46. Mott the Hoople – All the Way to Memphis (1973)
  47. The Holy Modal Rounders – Euphoria (1964)
  48. B-Rock and the Bizz – MyBabyDaddy (1997)
  49. The Osmonds – Crazy Horses (1972)
  50. The Music Machine – Talk Talk (1966)


  1. via facebook:

    Kembrew McLeod
    Chuck Eddy That’s the Joint was one the picks on my ballot too!

    Chuck Eddy
    Kembrew, have you posted your list?

    Kembrew McLeod
    Chuck Eddy No, but I will

    John Ned
    Crazy Horses! Mormon Metal.
    Nigel Richardson
    Weren’t you tempted to make up 50 ultra obscure 60s punk classics?

    Chuck Eddy
    Nah. Non-obscure 60s punk classics are usually way better!

    Tim Ellison
    Kind of a limited list, though, no? Obscure ones like “1-2-5” by the Haunted, “Bad Girl” by Zachary Thaks – and you can kind of go on and on with this – seem as good as “98 Tears” and such to me.

    Chuck Eddy
    I’d count anything on the original Nuggets as non-obscure, for starters. Maybe also anything on the Nuggets reissues in the ’80s. And anything that was an actual pop hit. And maybe….the Sonics. Etc. On my list, that’d include “Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)” (frat rock, same difference), “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” (also frat rock),”Talk Talk” and even (still ’60s!) “1969.” Which yeah, I’d take over anything I’ve heard from Back From The Grave or Pebbles or any sub-Pebbles. I’d say the same about “96 Tears,” both Electric Prunes hits, all Mitch Ryder & Detroit Wheels hits, all Paul Revere & the Raiders, “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone,” “Louie Louie,” “I Fought the Law,” early Bob Seger 45s, two songs each by Mouse & the Traps and 13th Floor Elevators, hell “White Rabbit” for that matter… None of which would have been widely called “punk” or even “garage” in the actual ’60s.
    Alfred Soto
    Helluva top five! I’d no idea you loved “West End Girls” so much even knowing how often you’ve written about them.

    Chuck Eddy
    Since the first day I heard it, before I even knew who they were.

    Steve Schneider
    Chuck Eddy It came out while I was on spring break that year, and I talked to so many people who said “I wish I could think of who that guy sounds like” that I was seriously thinking of having a card printed up with the name “Al Stewart” on it, just to save myself some time.

    Kevin Bozelka
    Most of these are correct.

    Michaelangelo Matos
    We share 1 and 6. Kicking myself for missing 13, 17, 34.

    Sundar Subramanian
    “The Mexican”! 😍

    Chuck Eddy
    By the greatest spaghetti-western Latin-rhythm prog-metal band ever.

    J.D. Considine
    I would post my list, but nobody at RS asked me for one. I should probably be more proactive about these things…

    Tom Lane
    Helluva list. From Anne Murray to Maze to Alice Cooper. Would make a great mix tape.

    Nathan Carson
    Some great choices…and the worst Thin Lizzy song! 😉

    Ken Wissoker
    Great list! A lot of my all time faves too: 1, 6, 13 15, 17, 19
    Steve Crawford
    Excellent choice at the top slot. Also, very happy to see “Uptown Top Ranking” so high on your list.

    Sara Sherr
    Some good ones here and some others I need to check out.

    Jaz Jacobi
    Adding these to my “music shopping list”–these 50 tunes brought that list up to 52,236 songs!

    Chuck Eddy
    Wait — So does that mean you now have *none* of them? I’m confused.

    Jaz Jacobi
    This is a list where I mark which songs I do or don’t have. It’s rather unwieldy–when I print it out, it becomes about 150 pages long and has to be contained in a binder–but it’s helped me not bring home music I already own and just can’t remember. [I mostly buy “various artists” comps these days.]

    Chuck Eddy
    And none of it is digital, right? (Unless CDs count as “digital.”)

    Jaz Jacobi
    All of it is CDs, if I get a “digital” file all I end up doing is burning a CD of it!

    Jaz Jacobi
    I look forward to making a really diverse mix CD someday of the songs I do have!
    [I once tried to compile a CD of Chuck’s extremely listenable “Bubblegum Music Never Died” top 40, but I think I never found the last couple of songs to complete that project…]

    Daniel Brockman
    chuck, this is such a great list- i actually made an mp3 comp of this whole thing to listen to and it rules… love that dev made the cut!

    Mike Freedberg
    Here’s an alternative 50 for ya
    Jackie & the Starlites “Valarie”
    Will Bradley Orchestra “Down the road apiece”
    Amadee Ardoin “Two Step”
    Gus Cannon “Poor Boy Long Ways From Home”
    Billie Holiday “Strange Fruit”
    James Sugar Boy Crawford “Iko Iko”
    Lee Dorsey “Do Re Mi”
    Barabbas “Hijack”
    Serge Gainsboyrg “Hotel particulier”
    France Gall “j’irai ou tu iras”
    Brel “La chanson du prevert”
    Guitar Slim “The Things I Used To Do”
    Funkadelic “Music for My Mother”
    James Cotton “Cotton Crop Blues”
    Moonglows “Ten Commandments of Love”
    H2O featuring Billie “You Can Run… But You Can’t Hide”
    Dietrich Schoenemann “19 Bullets”
    Dennis Ferrer “Hey Hey (I Heard You Say)”
    Gloria Trevi “Me Siento Tan Sola”
    Mylene Farmer “Sans contrefacon”
    Tantra “Hills of Kathmandu”
    Bionic Boogie “Chains”
    Joy Division “Ceremony”
    Danny Tenaglia “Elements”
    Phineas Newborn Jr “ Blues for the Left Hand Only”
    Tyrone Davy’s “Can I Change My Mind”
    Ike & Tina Turner “I Idolize You”
    Ambassadors “I Really Love You”
    AC/DC “She’s Got Balls”
    Kinks “Ape Man”
    Nina Hendrix “the Ballad of Rush Limbaugh”
    That’s 31
    (To be continued)


  2. via facebook:

    Patrick Hould
    This shit is like a Christmas present to me. And what a knock-out #1 and 2 combo! Unheard by me: “In My Trunk”, “He’s The Great Imposter”, “Golden Time Of The Day” (though there’s many more that I know I’ve heard but can’t recall what they sound like). The Trickeration one took some serious persistence to track down. Least favorite: “Jack and Diane” – nothing against Cougar, but I’ve always found that one vaguely annoying. I can appreciate how it must have stood out on the radio in 1982 though.

    Zac Harmon
    Nice list! IdI’d imagine 5 of these, at most, will end up on the list.
    Chuck Eddy
    5 would be a lot! “I Feel Love” has the best shot, I’d think.

    Chuck Eddy
    Oh, and “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” I guess.

    Patrick Hould
    If it’s a top 500, “Night Moves”, “West End Girls” and “Boys Are Back In Town” are 100% sure shots. « Israelites », « 1969 » and « Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me » are pretty safe bets too. I think « Uptown Top Ranking » has a shot if there are enough British voters.

    Chuck Eddy
    Hmmm, maybe. Very skeptical about “West End Girls.”

    Patrick Hould
    (I have no idea why my quotation marks changed halfway through my post)

    Zac Harmon
    Dont worry. It looks cool!

    Patrick Hould
    What kind of monster does not love « West End Girls »?!
    Chuck Eddy
    Yeah, but that doesn’t mean the sort of Rolling Stone adjacent people who got sent ballots would vote for it. If they even remember it.

    Chuck Eddy
    Also, lots of other Pet Shop Boys songs could split their vote. (I’ve seen them on three ballots so far, with three different songs.)

    Patrick Hould
    Yeah, I can see that happening.

    Steve Pick
    Pretty fun list of songs. I love the top five being representatives of such different worlds (though Teena Marie’s early rap inside the singing of Square Biz makes her at least hip hop adjacent to the Funky Four Plus One.) I can’t even imagine making a list of the greatest songs of all time – if I thought of 50 today, I’d probably think of 47 different ones tomorrow. (And Your Bird Can Sing by the Beatles, Pale Blue Eyes by the Velvet Underground, and September Gurls by Big Star have always been my go-to top 3.)

    Alfred Soto
    A Chuck Eddy list in the best sense.

    Stan Piccirilli
    Great list! Spinners “Games People Play” was my favorite song in 3rd grade.

    Alfred Soto
    I could hang myself for not including a Spinners or Caetano Veloso single.

    Alfred Soto

    Chuck Eddy
    Noel and Gary Stewart! But some of that small print is…very small!

    Alfred Soto
    Yeah. It’s the cutting and pasting

    Chuck Eddy
    Still — “Virginia Plain”! “Another Girl Another Planet”! “I Bet You” (though I would’ve gone with “Can You Get To That”)! Stellar listmaking.
    · Reply · 2d
    Write a reply…

    Patrick Hould
    I’m really pleased to see « Something About You » on there. That song doesn’t get nearly enough love. I never felt « The Drowners » though. I went in that first Suede album expecting some T.Rex/Bowie stomping, instead got Alvin Chipmunk fronting The Smiths. Their 3rd album, though, sounded *exactly* like what I wished for.

    Alfred Soto
    Patrick, yup, that’s the album Chuck likes too.

    Alfred Soto
    “Something About You” has haunted me since childhood when I thought this was a fucking killer R&B band. Besides how lovely the verse melody and chorus are, the lyrics, which I don’t often notice or care or, are precise.

    Zac Harmon
    “The Downers” is my favorite Suede tune too. But I’m most excited by the high placing of “Are You There (With Another Girl),” which I recently tried to learn on keyboard before accepting that it was way too far beyond my chops.

    Alfred Soto
    The woodwinds!

    Steve Pick
    Unusual and pretty cool choice from the Buzzcocks – “There is no love in this world anymore.”

    Alfred Soto
    Pure dialectical brilliance. In the negative immerse to endorse the positive.

    Peter Stenhouse
    Wow, you like “Ballroom Blitz” even more than I do. Also, three cheers for “Rat Trap.”

    Steve Pick
    Peter Stenhouse Chuck Eddy my favorite part of Ballroom Blitz is that they ask me if I’m ready at the very beginning of the record

    Chuck Eddy
    Same way I always think Rickie Lee Jones’s biggest hit is about me.


  3. –No. of songs in your Top 10 that were playing when I got into my friend Don’s car yesterday to go to lunch at Las Caras = 1 (“The Boys Are Back In Town”)
    –No. of songs in your Top 10 that I don’t remember even hearing of = 2 (“Be Thankful For What You Got” and “Rang Tang Ding Dong”)
    –No. of songs in your Top 50 that I posted about online in the last month = 3 (“All The Way From Memphis” on someone’s LiveJournal Comment thread regarding the accurate depiction of 11- and 12-year-olds in Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore; “That’s The Joint” on Twitter regarding great heats in Twitter Poll history, w/ someone opining that “That’s The Joint” might be the greatest single of all time; and “MyBabyDaddy” on Twitter because of the need to disqualify it from the World Cup Of 1999 on account of its being 1997)
    –No. of songs in your Top 10 that at first I didn’t remember hearing of and then went, “Wait, I may have originally *taped* that for him, unless he sent me the album it was on in the first place” = 1 (“Electrica Salsa,” though I actually prefer the other track on your list from the “Electric Salsa* compilation, the Gibson Brothers’ “Cuba” [and accolades to Magazine 60 and Fun Fun as well])
    –No. of songs on your list that interpolate music from the same soundtrack I nominated a song from for last month’s World Cup Of Short Songs = 1 (Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican,” of course, though the track I nominated from For A Few Dollars More wasn’t the title theme but “Watch Chimes” [nominee had to be under two minutes])

    Liked by 1 person

  4. via facebook:

    Jake Alrich
    Shit i’m way tardy to this party, but Did anyone point out that nearly a third of this list would have been right at home at the Loft, Paradise Garage etc.?

    Chuck Eddy
    Anybody want to check and see how many of mine made the final list?

    Tom Lane
    Funky 4, Pet Shop Boys, William DeVaughn, Thin LIzzy, Bob Seger, Donna Summer, Geto Boys

    Chuck Eddy
    More than I thought — Thanks Tom! DeVaughn surprises me most, though Pet Shop Boys and Seger have so many great songs that I would have expected the ones I picked would face quite a bit of intramural competition.

    Tom Lane
    Pet Shop Boys were surprisingly low at #433.

    Chuck Eddy
    Was that their only song on the list? I know, I’m being lazy here…

    Tom Lane
    Chuck Eddy Unless I’m blind, one time through the list and it was their only entry I saw.

    Chuck Eddy
    Okay, if so, that’s just weird. Especially with, presumably, Rob Sheffield part of the panel calibrating placements on the list (unless he isn’t.)

    Jaz Jacobi
    I pasted the list into an Excel spreadsheet and grouped them by artist–Pet Shop Boys indeed only have that one song on the list, but for this particular list that isn’t such a bad showing, in that many many artists only get one tune therein. PSB had as many placements on the list as such RS sacred cows as, say, Steely Dan, solo Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, solo Van Morrison or the Doors.
    On the other hand, that means they only get equal representation to such critical punching bags as Toto, Bon Jovi, Journey and Rush, for whatever that is worth. Even semi-peers Tears for Fears [say that five times fast!] had as many songs on the list.

    Jaz Jacobi
    People are really excited about the diversity of this list, and how it tosses out over half the 2004 list, but I’m really kind of torn about how hard this new list seems intent on skewing the canon to include recent music, at the expense of “old” music. Does Drake or Radiohead really have three times as many of the “greatest songs ever” than Sam Cooke or Roy Orbison?

    Jaz Jacobi
    On the other hand, I didn’t expect Bill Withers to appear on the list more often than Ray Charles, Otis Redding, or Al Green!

    Jaz Jacobi
    But then again, whadda I know: this list implies that thirty of the greatest songs of all time were recorded during the last ten years, and I am 100% unfamiliar with every one of them!


    Patrick Hould
    I’m counting 7. I was right about “West End Girls”, wrong about “Israelites” and “1969” 😔, did not expect “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got”.

    Tom Lane
    BTW- Alice Cooper on list with “School’s Out”. Stooges with “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. Iggy with “Lust for Life”.

    Tom Lane
    Mott on list with “All the Young Dudes”. No John Cougar songs.

    Rob Smith
    Wow PE Fight the Power at #2, did not expect that

    Chuck Eddy
    “Bring the Noise” is better. So is the Isleys’ “Fight the Power.”

    Peter Stenhouse
    And the “Fight the Power” on the Do the Right Thing soundtrack is better than the one on Fear of a Black Planet.

    Kevin Bozelka
    Shocked to see Mike Rep And The Quotas : “Rocket To Nowhere” even at #498.

    Chuck Eddy
    I have no idea what you’re making fun of, but I laughed anyway.

    Kevin Bozelka
    just being a brat.

    William Boyd
    The RS list includes Miles Davis’s So What, which is a great track, but not a song. Songs have vocals.

    Kevin Bozelka
    William Boyd they do?
    Chuck Eddy
    What if they only have one word, like “Tequila”?

    William Boyd
    That counts! The list should have used the word tracks instead of songs–it’s more inclusive.

    Kevin Bozelka
    What if it has no words like Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonky Pts. 1 & 2” which Xgau called the greatest song of all time (in so many words)? Or Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk”? Or Hot Butter’s “Popcorn”? Or Harold F’s “Axel F”? Or…?

    William Boyd
    Those are Instrumentals, not technically songs. Had the list used the word Tracks instead of Songs, it would be more accurate and inclusive. Be precise.

    Kevin Bozelka
    ok then to what extent is Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” a song and not a track? It’s far more tracky than songy. The vocalist doesn’t even care that we may be listening. As Frank Kogan once said, she may feel love but not for me.

    William Boyd
    It’s both. It’s a track and it’s a song. I’m just saying that had Rolling Stone, for example, called their list “the 500 Greatest Tracks of all time,” it would be more inclusive and less confusing.

    Chuck Eddy
    I dunno, didn’t confuse me.

    Tom Lunt
    Some of these aren’t songs, but performances.

    Chuck Eddy
    Just “some”? They’re all singles. I wasn’t about to get over-literal about it.

    Rolf B. Bloodstar
    ❤️ Boney M – Rasputin ❤️ Do you know the cool and very funny Turisas’ version? Folk metal from Finland goes disco…


  5. via facebook:

    Peter Gorman
    In which I find out after all these years that “Games People Play” is merely the parenthetical title (I love that song).

    Chuck Eddy
    Maybe it can thank its parentheses to the Joe South song?

    Peter Gorman
    Turns out that’s exactly it. My research just now turned up this from “The first pressings of this song were issued as simply “Games People Play,” but the title was changed to avoid confusion with the song of the same name by Joe South. The awkward title ensured that publishing royalties wouldn’t be misappropriated to South’s song.”


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