100 Greatest Songs

curtis mayfieldmarvin gayefrank sinatra

Ever wondered what the 100 greatest songs of all time are? Well trouble yourself no longer – here they are…

(only one song per artist/band; songs with words, not instrumental)

Hells Bells – AC/DC
The Stars We Are – Marc Almond
Uptown Top Ranking – Althea & Donna
Ventura Highway – America
The House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Across the Universe – The Beatles
Harrow Road – Big Audio Dynamite
Hyperballad – Bjork
The Last Month of the Year – Blind Boys of Alabama
In the Sun – Blondie
Everything I Own – Ken Boothe
Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed – David Bowie
ESP – Buzzcocks
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
White Man in Hammersmith Palais – The Clash
Do you really want to hurt me? – Culture Club
Ninety Nine and a Half – Dorothy Love Coates
Alison – Elvis Costello
Just Like Heaven – The Cure
Eloise – The Damned
Knowledge of Beauty – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Soolimon – Neil Diamond (from Hot August Night)
The End – The Doors
Fruit Tree – Nick Drake
Ballad of a Thin Man – Bob Dylan
That’s Alright Mama – Elvis
This is the house that Jack built – Aretha Franklin
Sometimes – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Inner City Blues – Marvin Gaye
My Sweet Lord – George Harrison
Sonny – Bobby Hebb
The Wind Cries Mary – Jimi Hendrix
Winter in America – Gil Scott Heron
A Town Like Malice – The Jam
Jerusalem – hymn
Tainted Love – Gloria Jones
Atmosphere – Joy Division
Danny Boy – Brian Kennedy
Batonga – Angelique Kidjo
Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
In My Time of Dying – Led Zeppelin
Oh Yoko – John Lennon
Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Jealousy – Geraldine MacGowan [County Clare’s finest]
Fairytale of New York – Shane MacGowan & Kirsty MacColl
The Snake with Eyes of Garnet – Shane MacGowan & the Popes
The Prince – Madness
Like a Prayer – Madonna
Shot by Both Sides – Magazine
My Little Empire – Manic Street Preachers
Natty Dread – Bob Marley & the Wailers
Don’t Want to Know – John Martyn
Wandrin’ Star – Lee Marvin
Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield
Amazing – George Michael
Monkees theme – The Monkees
Moondance – Van Morrison
Police & Thieves – Junior Murvin
Jerusalem the Golden – Effi Netzer singers
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Raglan Road – Sinead O’Connor
West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys
Julia Dream – Pink Floyd
Public Image Limited – PIL
Fanciness – Shabba Ranks & Lady G
Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding
Cold Water – Damien Rice
Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones
Chase the Devil – Max Romeo & the Upsetters
Street Life – Roxy Music
In a Rut – The Ruts
Anarchy in the UK – The Sex Pistols
If I Was a Bell – Jean Simmons (in Guys & Dolls movie)
One for my baby – Frank Sinatra
Icon – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Because the Night – Patti Smith
Ghost Town – The Specials
For What it’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen (MTV Plugged session 1992)
Down on Mississippi – Mavis Staples
Father & Son – Cat Stevens
Runaway Boy – The Stray Cats
You’re the Best Thing – The Style Council
Forbidden Colours – David Sylvian & Ruichi Sakamoto (from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence)
No Scrubs – TLC
Listening Wind – Talking Heads
Fire & Rain – James Taylor
Treason – Teardrop Explodes
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg – The Temptations
The Boys are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy
One – U2
Ivory Madonna – UB40
Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters
My Generation – The Who
Armagideon Time – Willie Williams
That Girl – Stevie Wonder
Old Man – Neil Young
Freedom Suite – The Young Disciples

36 comments so far

  1. Practical Psychologist on

    I see you decided not to put them in order. Wise move! Alphabetical is a very good idea. A few changes as far as I can tell?

    Do you know I remember the first time I heard The Young Disciples track. It was with you in the creperie in Clapham High Street that was there for about two months! I bet you don’t remember that!

  2. ArkAngel on

    Had left out a few important folk like Muddy Waters and Patti Smith.

    Not sure I do recall that place – was it near Moonfleet Records (RIP)?

  3. Practical Psychologist on

    It was where Eco pizza is and has been now for about 12 years. I still pop in there for a pizza occasionally. I loved Moonfleet Records. I remember going in there one lunchtime and buying five Parliament and Funkadelic albums. I think I was keeping them going at one point. It is now some sort of hideous ribshack type place. The place you may be thinking of is Cafe Wanda which is just about the only place that survives on the whole street from the ole days. Although San Marco is still there but unrecognisable from the past. The last of the small shops closed last year – Solo Electrics – where I used to get all of the Melrose cables etc. I happened to be passing the day they closed down and like many other small shops the owner said that no-one really thinks to walk down the high street for electrical stuff now. They want wall-to-wall restaurants.

    I am just doing a touch of fine tuning to my 100 – left out Jeff Buckley’s ‘Everybody here wants you’ which must go in. Possibly at the expense of his father!

  4. Practical Psychologist on

    1. Family Affair: Sly and The Family Stone
    2. Beginnings:Gil Scot-Heron
    3. My Woman’s Love: The Impressions
    4. As: Stevie Wonder
    5. Heritage of a Black Man: Sam Dees
    6. Oh Baby, Baby: Miracles
    7. First Time ever I saw Your Face: Roberta Flack
    8. Fruit Tree: Nick Drake
    9. Needle of Death: Bert Jansch
    10. Mi Name Gregory: Gregory Isaacs

    11. Waltzing Matilda: Tom Waits
    12. Desafinado: Joao Gilberto/Tom Jobim
    13. Flora: Gilberto Gil
    14. Comanche: Jorge Ben
    15. Witchcraft: Fela Kuti
    16. Stir it Up; Bob Marley (as performed on Whistle Test 1973)
    17. Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore: Walker Brothers
    18. Smells Like Teen Spirit: Nirvana
    19. My Favourite Things: Julie Andrews
    20. On Days Like These: Matt Monroe

    21. Singing in the Rain: Gene Kelly
    22. Witchcraft: Frank Sinatra
    23. Man of the World: Fleetwood Mac
    24. Some Day We’ll all be Free: Donny Hathaway
    25. A Change is Gonna Come: Sam Cooke
    26. Immigrant Song: Nitin Sawhney
    27. Groovin’: Young Rascals
    28. Queen of Hearts: Gregg Allman
    29. Traction in the Rain: David Crosby

    30. Strange Fruit: Billie Holliday
    31. Don’t Explain: Nina Simone
    32. Something: Beatles
    33. You Can’t Always Get What You Want: Rolling Stones
    34. Come Together in the Morning: Free
    35. Nobody’s Fault But Mine: Led Zeppelin
    36. Walk on the Wild Side: Lou Reed
    37. Dolphins: Tim Buckley
    38. Moonage DayDream: David Bowie
    39. Suspicious Minds: Elvis Presley

    40. The Great Curve: Talking Heads
    41. The Highways of My Life: Isley Brothers
    42. Our Love: John Martyn
    43. I Only Want to be With You: Dusty Springfield
    44. Summertime: The Ohio Players
    45. Fever: The Cramps
    46. Dreamer: Tommy Bolin
    47. Lay, Lady Lay: Bob Dylan
    48. Me and Mrs Jones: Billy Paul
    49. It’s all Over Now Baby Blue: Them

    50. All Tomorrow’s Parties: Velvet Underground
    51. Olsen, Olsen: Sigur Ros
    52. Darkest Dreaming: David Sylvian
    53. La La Means I Love You: The Delfonics
    54. Another Girl, Another Planet: The Only Ones
    55. By the Time I get to Phoenix: Isaac Hayes
    56. What Colour is Love: Terry Callier
    57. The Snake: Al Wilson
    58. Ventura Highway: America
    59. Some Things Don’t Matter: Ben Watt

    60. Hope She’ll Be Happier: Bill Withers
    61. Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City: Bobby Bland
    62. Mouso Teke Soma Ye: Boubacar Traore
    63. Baby’s on Fire: Brian Eno
    64. Oh Girl: The Chi-lites
    65. Don’t Waste Your Time: The Five Stairsteps
    66. I Only Have Eyes For You: The Flamingos
    67. Everybody here wants you: Jeff Buckley
    68. Bob: Otto
    69. The Daily Growl: Lambchop

    70. Chase The Devil: Max Romeo
    71. Roast Fish and Cornbread: Lee Perry
    72. Fisherman: The Congoes
    73. Carolina: Chico Buarque
    74. Oh Leazinho: Caetano Veloso
    75. September in the Rain: Dinah Washington
    76. Six Days: DJ Shadow
    77. The Message: Grandmaster Flash
    78. Ali baba: John Holt
    79. Love is a Losing Game: Amy Winehouse

    80. Morning Dew: Jeff Beck Group
    81. Hymn To Joy: Karin Krog
    82. Standing on the Verge of Getting it on: Funkadelic
    83. Whippin’ Post: Frank Zappa
    84. Seven Days: Chuck Woods
    85. Papa Furado: Airto Moreira
    86. At Last I am Free: Robert Wyatt
    87. 21st Century Schizoid Man: King Crimson
    88. Boat Woman Song: Holgar Czukay
    89. Heroes: Roni Size

    90. Our Love Will Grow: The Showmen
    91. Wear it on our Face; The Dells
    92. That’s the Way it’s Gonna Be: Madlib
    93. You’ve Gotta Have Freedom: Pharaoh Sanders
    94. Elegy: Colloseum
    95. Do The Strand: Roxy Music
    96. My October Symphony: Pet Shop Boys
    97. Fujiyama Pt2 – Lovesong: Moondog
    98. Allah Ho, Allah Ho: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
    100. Give a Life, Take A Life: Spirit


    Have to be songs i.e. not tracks which are great because of musicianship etc. (I have made an exception for Led Zep because Page is great on every track of theirs)

    Only one track per artist

    The best version – even if it is not the original (hence The Cramps)

    And a suggestion: 50 Best albums next? I think we would be off in very different directions

  5. ArkAngel on

    Hmm, my iTunes bill is going to be growing for the next few weeks as I explore the more esoteric of your choices.

    I think it’s a tough call on Fever between The Cramps, Peggy Lee and my friend Maura Logue of Ballyshannon, Donegal who does a smokin’ version.

    50 Best LPs – nice idea, if only every week could be Christmas with time to immerse oneself in trivia and play. (I’ll start musing on the matter in those duller Northern Line moments.)

  6. ArkAngel on

    PS I don’t think I’ve been in or through Clapham in over a decade. PP, you have an awesome memory for names.

  7. Practical Psychologist on

    I loved the Cramps – ‘Surfin’ Bird’ nearly made it.

    We can save the 50 LPs for next Christmas.

    I have just heard the new Radiohead album and I thought it was superb.

    Re – Clapham. I have a head full of crap. I remember a lot of stuff – but sadly not the important stuff.

  8. ArkAngel on

    Oh dear, I forgot The Smiths – What Difference Does It Make? (just seen Morrissey tonight)

  9. Practical Psychologist on

    To which my reply is – oh good you forgot the Smiths. Another band I just never connected with. I saw them once. 1984 at the University of Ulster supported by James. They were awful. Morrisey went into a strop and left the stage for fifteen minutes. Johnny Marr then went to the mic and said he would try to persuade him to come back. There were plenty of people saying ‘don’t bother’ although I must admit there were plenty who wanted him back too – they all seemed to have trees coming out of their backsides. He did come back but I just felt we were confusing ‘personality’ for someone’s arrogance and self-absorption. Una might have been there?

    However, I did think ‘How Soon is Now’ was a great track and I thought they made some reasonable singles. I just couldn’t get my head past someone I felt was a pig-headed idiot. He may have changed?

  10. Practical Psychologist on

    The fifty greatest albums are nearly ready. We may connect less on these…

  11. ArkAngel on

    OK, I’ll get to work on it

  12. practical psychologist on

    And here are 50 albums. No particular order. No compilations rule.

    1. Mariano/Vant’hof/Catherine – Sleep My Love
    2. Garbarek/Gismonti/Haden – Folk Songs
    3. What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
    4. Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie Wonder
    5. Beyond Skin – Nitin Sawhney
    6. Soro – Salif Keita
    7. Leftfield – Leftism
    8. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
    9. Airto Moreira – Seeds on the Ground
    10. Khomsa – Anouar Brahem
    11. Santana – Caravanserai
    12. Edu Lobo – Cantiga De Longe
    13. Remain in Light – Talking Heads
    14. Eastern Sounds – Yusef Lateeef
    15. Devotional Songs – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
    16. The Velvet Underground and Nico
    17. Gabor Szabo & Bobby Womack – High Contrast
    18. The Isley Brothers – 3+3
    19. This Is My Country – The Impressions
    20. Pharaoh Sanders – Journey To the One
    21. Miles Davis – In a Silent Way
    22. DJ Shadow Entroducing
    23. Keith Jarrett – The Koln Concert
    24. Sigur Ros – Takk
    25. Let it Bleed – The Rolling Stones
    26. Brian Eno/Harold Budd – The Plateau of Mirror
    27. Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
    28. Tabula Rasa – Arvo Part
    29. Mothership Connection – Parliament
    30. Lou Reed – Transformer
    31. Led Zeppelin – 2
    32. David Sylvian – Secrets of the Beehive
    33. Free Will – Gil Scot Heron
    34. David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name
    35. Spirit – 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus
    36. Jdilla – Donuts
    37. Five Leaves Left – Nick Drake
    38. Clube De Esquina – Milton Nascimento
    39. Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus
    40. Lonnie Liston Smith – Expansions
    41. Anthony and the Johnsons – I am a Bird Now
    42. TheInflated Tear – Rahsan Roland Kirk
    43. Blue Camel – Rabih Abou-Khalil
    44. What Colour is Love – Terry Callier
    45. Fat Albert Rotunda – Herbie Hancock
    46. Diamond Dogs – David Bowie
    47. Assagai – Afrorock
    48. Biosphere – Sub-Strata
    49. Ein Deutche Requiem – Brahms (Simon Rattle)
    50. The Nordic Quartet – Rypdal/Surman/Storaas.Krog

  13. ArkAngel on

    I’m not looking because I haven’t finished my list yet – I need a few more tube journeys to get done then I’ll be back…

  14. practical psychologist on

    I look forward to it. I have made a ‘no compilations’ rule. I was surprised at how conservative my list ended up.

  15. […] Posted 15 February, 2008 After playing the 100 Greatest Songs of all time parlour game with my friend Doug Miller over Christmas (me in the North of London, him in the South […]

  16. ArkAngel on

    OK, PP, done it – posted on a new post called Long Players (see above).

  17. ArkAngel on

    Regarding your 50 (and do feel free to add another 25 if you want to make it all fair&square) we clearly agree on some key ones like What’s Going On, A Love Supreme and Remain in the Light.

    Ones that you have reminded me that I’ve overlooked include Soro and Expansions. Also haven’t really broached the classical – will be sneaking a couple in after the event.

    There’s a good few I haven’t heard (or even heard of!) – which gives me some interesting territory to explore (thanks). I think I’m going to start with Journey to the One

    We don’t agree on our choice of Stevie Wonder (though I prefer him for individual songs rather than LPs so I don’t have strong feelings on that); Santana (which I was struggling with which one to opt for, including the first white cover Santana); the Stones (to be honest I’ve never owned many of the albums and mainly listened to early compilations like High Tide and Green Grass but Some Girls struck a bit of a funky chord in the mid 70s); Pink Floyd (I probably need to think harder about this, just a bit of a sucker for Echoes); Led Zep (4 was the first one for me, emerging from my punk orthodoxy, hence the warm associations); David Sylvian (I had a great experience with Brilliant Trees walking across Vienna with my first Walkman, size of a brick); Gil Scott (I’ve mainly listened off compilations so shamefully ignorant of the LPs); Nick Drake (just a hard call – why Five Leaves over the others?); Bowie (I love the hippy meets Anthony Newley era).

    In a Silent Way is interesting – is Kind of Blue too obvious or do you really feel it was surpassed?

  18. Practical Psychologist on

    To answer your Q’s first.

    Nick Drake. A tough question to answer. I just think this is the best of the three. But hard to say exactly why.

    Miles. In a Silent Way I feel was revolutionary – and a huge British influence Dave Holland and the genius of John Mclaughlin. Kind of Blue perhaps evolutionary. Others came close. I love Jack Johnson, Bitches Brew, Miles Smiles, Porgy and Bess. A tough, tough call. If artists could appear more than once they would all be in there!

    Bowie. Anything from 67-80 stands up apart from maybe Aladdin Sane (too many weaker tracks) and Lodger (only a couple of great ones). I think I went for DDogs not because it is necessarily the best (though it is close) but because it is the most underated. It is the last Bowie album I Iistened to – a week or 2 back and I just thought it sounded great. And a lot less dated than Ziggy.

    Floyd. This was a lazy choice. I have all the albums but if I could only listen to one ever again the obvious one would be the one.

    Zep. 2 shows off Plant’s voice the best. I love this.

    Santana – I really believe that Caravanserai is vastly superior to anything else he did. It was the moment when great musicians (McLaughlin, Alice Coltrane etc) took notice. And also the last album before the original ‘Woodstock’ band broke up. They were all at their individual and collective peak. I always listen to this as a jazz album rather than a rock album. That’s probably what pissed off Gregg Rolie and Neil Schon because they went off to form the hyper commercial soft-rock band ‘journey’ after this.

    GSH. A shame revolution is a complilation! But `Free Will’, ‘Winter in America’, ‘Pieces of a Man’ and ‘Moving Target’ are all great. I might be changing my selection here.

    Stevie was dffiicult and I am close to agreeing with you. But I think ‘Songs’ had everything. The Isley’s 3+3 is criminally ignored. ‘Summer Breeze’, ‘Highways of My Life’, ‘That Lady’, ‘Walk Your Way’ etc. all on one album. One of the best soul albums ever.

    We both have our own jazz favourites (probably historical choices?) and yours are all great.

    I suspect if I do this again in 3 or 4 years time I will include some from the current decade that I am curently unaware of. It takes time to catch up these days!

    Ona philosophical note I believe strongly in having ‘why’s’ to live for. One of my biggest ‘why’s in the continual discovery of new and brilliant music. I have approached an acquantance at University of West of England (did you ever meet Mark Brown’s researcher Paul Redford?) about doing a Masters based around Music and how different kinds of music can be used to make you think more creatively. There is real interest. But I probably need
    sponsorship or to pay for it all myself!

  19. ArkAngel on

    No, don’t recall meeting Paul but then the said Professor seemed to go through researchers/assistants more quickly than the proverbial goes through geese. John Townsend was very interested in music and creativity/state of mind wasn’t he? It’s a really interesting area and the lure of academia at an age when you can actually appreciate it is strong. My youngest brother has just gone back to do a psychology degree. I’d love a year or two in an ivory tower myself. Was recently at the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich doing some research of my own and the bookish tranquility was a joy.

  20. ArkAngel on

    A little (cumulative) stash of ones I missed off:

    She is so Beautiful – Mike Scott
    Beggin’ – Frankie Valli & the 4 Seasons
    Theme from Schindler’s List

  21. practicalpsychologist on

    Revisiting this christmas. Probably changing 20 or so.

  22. ArkAngel on

    You’re on, that will be fun over the hols – I’ve got a similar number to change

  23. ArkAngel on

    Update 17.iv.09:
    Just marking the 60th anniversary of the 7″ single. In 1979 there were 89 Million sold in the UK.

    The first 45 rpm vinyl record, Texarkana Baby by country-and-western singer Eddy Arnold, was issued by RCA in the US on 31 March 1949.

  24. practicalpsychologist on

    A question for you – do you know what was the first ever CD single?

  25. Channel 4 on

    Not a balding notion I’m afraid 😦

  26. practicalpsychologist on

    Angeline – John Martyn

  27. ArkAngel on

    A worthy first – great song

  28. The Box | Simple Pleasures part 4 on

    […] box as some people decided to give one song per decade, some very naturally hedged their bets as choosing just one is tough as we all know from Desert Island Discs and the like. (There’s no special significance about […]

  29. noah gee on

    test 2

  30. […] 100 Greatest Songs […]

  31. […] Best Songs […]

  32. […] 100 Greatest Songs [12 January, 2008] […]

  33. theluckhabit on

    Stumbled across this as I was looking through your blog. The best albums deserves a revisit in the next year or so. 2018 will make it ten years on from the first go and many newer ones now to be included.

  34. ArkAngel on

    I agree – best songs or best albums first?

  35. […] 100 Greatest Songs [12 January, 2008] […]

  36. theluckhabit on

    Albums I think. More my world these days. I reckon 30-40 will have changed. I will also keep classical out of the list. Perhaps we could a top 20 classical at some point (100 will stretch it for me!). We should also enlist Catalan Brian and perhaps one or two others for good balance.

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