It’s become a Labour Day tradition to countdown the Top 500 rock songs of all time based on your votes. Now that the weekend has come and gone, the 2022 results are in.
Here are the Top 5 rock songs from this year’s Top 500 Countdown, as voted by you!
5. AC/DC – “You Shook Me All Night Long”
Down two spots from last year, our 5th place song is “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC.
“You Shook Me All Night Long” was the first single to feature lead singer Brian Johnson, following Bon Scott’s death. The inspiration behind the song, according to Johnson, came to the band while recording Back In Black.
He recalls Malcolm and Angus Young coming to him with the song:
“The boys had a title … Malcolm and Angus said, ‘Listen, we’ve got this song. It’s called ‘Shook Me All Night Long.’ That’s what we want the song to be called.’ And if you listen to the chords, [the chorus] just fell into place so I can’t claim any credit on that thing.” He continues, “It was as quick as it had to be, which was that night. I guess I had to try and impress somebody. It was just a thing that came at the time, and I still think it’s one of the greatest rock and roll riffs I’ve ever heard in my life.”
4. The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy For The Devil”
The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil” moved up six places to become this year’s 4th place song.
The song was inspired by a book by Mikhail Bulgakov called The Master and Margarita, which was given to Mick Jagger by his then girlfriend Marianne Faithful. While the song got some press for implying the Stones had an interest in the occult, Jagger has said the song is about the dark side of man and not Satanism.
In 2002, Keith Richards explained, “’Sympathy’ is quite an uplifting song. It’s just a matter of looking the Devil in the face. He’s there all the time. I’ve had very close contact with Lucifer – I’ve met him several times. Evil – people tend to bury it and hope it sorts itself out and doesn’t rear its ugly head … ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is a song that says, /Don’t forget him. If you confront him, then he’s out of a job.’”
3. Eagles – “Hotel California”
“Hotel California” moved up for places, bringing the Eagles to 3rd place.
The song was written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey and Don Henley and speaks of materialism and excess in LA, though it could apply to many places. In 2007, Henley explained, “Some of the wilder interpretations of that song have been amazing. It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls we knew. But it was also about the uneasy balance between art and commerce.”
Fedler came up with the song while playing at the beach. He later played the chord progression and basic guitar track for Henly and Frey, who helped finish the song. A year later, they recorded the song.
“Hotel California” was the title track for an album of the same name. The album won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1978, but the band didn’t attend to receive the award as Henley didn’t believe in contests.
2. Led Zeppelin – “Stairway To Heaven”
Led Zeppelin moved up two positions from last year to take the 2nd place spot with “Stairway To Heaven”.
“Stairway To Heaven” was composed by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant for their untitled studio album released in 1971. The goal was to write a new song to replace “Dazed and Confused” as the main song at their concerts.
Many have tried to interpret the song. When asked why the song was so popular, Plant shared that it had to do with how abstract it was.
“Depending on what day it is, I still interpret the song a different way – and I wrote the lyrics. The lyrics take some pretty wild turns, but the beginning of the song is about a woman who accumulates money, only to find out the hard way her life had no meaning and will not get her into heaven. This is the only part Plant would really explain, as he said it was “a woman getting everything she wanted without giving anything back.” — Robert Plant
1. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Freebird”
“Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd is up one place from last year, making it #1 on our list of top rock songs.
While the radio edit of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” is usually 4:41, the full track is over 9 minutes long. The remaining track is completely instrumental with Allen Collis, Ed King and Gary Rossington jamming for extended periods. Some have argued it is the most famous instrumental in rock n’ roll history.
The opening line, “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?” was something Allan Collin’s girlfriend (and later wife) asked him.
According to Ronnie Van Zant the song is about “what it means to be free, in that a bird can fly wherever he wants to go. Everyone wants to be free. That’s what this country’s all about.”
The song appeared on the album Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd, though their label didn’t want it to because of its length. No one had any idea it would gain so much popularity and help launch them into stardom.
This is just a small taste of the iconic rock songs that appear on this year’s Top 500 listing. We can’t wait to see what next year brings!
RELATED: Most iconic rock lyrics …