Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Toby Creswell: Top 1001 Songs

First posted 3/18/2021.

Toby Creswell:

1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time

Toby Creswell is an Australian music journalist who was the editor of the Australian edition of Rolling Stone (1985-1992) and the founding editor of Juice. In 2005, he published the book 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. While the years covered by the book are impressive (1924-2004), the list suffers from the usual problem of focusing primarily on music from the latter half of the 20th century. There are only 26 songs from the pre-rock era (before 1954).

More maddening, however, is the construction of the book. There isn’t any. The songs are not in any kind of order – ranked, listed chronologically, or alphabetically by song title or act name. Creswell tries to justify the lack of any ranking by saying in the introduction: “There is no greatest song of all time…There is no #1. There is no canon. Some of the songs are better than others.”

Let me stop right there. In his own words, he says “some of the songs are better than others,” which supports the idea that there is, in fact, a greatest song of all time. It’s just that Creswell is either 1) too lazy to rank the songs, or 2) too afraid of the backlash that inevitably comes from those who disagree with the rankings. With that said, Dave’s Music Database believes strongly that some songs are better than others and that there is a greatest song of all time. Therefore, this list ranks the top songs featured in Creswell’s book by their overall Dave’s Music Database status.

Click here to see other lists from publications and/or organizations.

DMDB Top 1%:

1. The Beatles “Hey Jude” (1968)
2. The Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1965)
3. Bill Haley & the Comets “We’re Gonna Rock Around the Clock” (1954)
4. The Police “Every Breath You Take” (1983)
5. Michael Jackson “Billie Jean” (1982)
6. Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)
7. Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991)
8. John Lennon “Imagine” (1971)
9. The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963)
10. Simon & Garfunkel “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (1970)

11. Aretha Franklin “Respect” (1967)
12. Marvin Gaye “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (1968)
13. The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” (1966)
14. Eagles “Hotel California” (1976)
15. Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” (1977)
16. Bob Dylan “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965)
17. Judy Garland “Over the Rainbow” (1939)
18. Otis Redding “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” (1968)
19. Bobby Darin “Mack the Knife” (1956)
20. Elvis Presley “Heartbreak Hotel” (1956)

21. SinĂ©ad O’Connor “Nothing Compares 2 U” (1990)
22. OutKast “Hey Ya!” (2003)
23. Elvis Presley “Don’t Be Cruel” (1956)
24. Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” (1971)
25. Elvis Presley “Hound Dog” (1956)
26. The Animals “The House of the Rising Sun” (1964)
27. Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (1988)
28. Derek & the Dominos “Layla” (1971)
29. Ben E. King “Stand by Me” (1961)
30. Roy Orbison “(Oh) Pretty Woman” (1964)

31. The Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” (1965)
32. Elvis Presley “Jailhouse Rock” (1957)
33. Abba “Dancing Queen” (1976)
34. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts “I Love Rock and Roll” (1981)
35. Chuck Berry “Johnny B. Goode” (1958)
36. Prince “When Doves Cry” (1984)
37. Procol Harum “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (1967)
38. R.E.M. “Losing My Religion” (1991)
39. Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On” (1971)
40. The Doors “Light My Fire” (1967)

41. The Kingsmen “Louie Louie” (1963)
42. BeyoncĂ© with Jay-Z “Crazy in Love” (2003)
43. Rod Stewart “Maggie May” (1971)
44. The Who “My Generation” (1966)
45. Elton John “Your Song” (1970)
46. Elvis Presley “Suspicious Minds” (1969)
47. The Ronettes “Be My Baby” (1963)
48. Elvis Presley “All Shook Up“ (1957)
49. Ray Charles “What’d I Say” (1959)
50. The Kinks “You Really Got Me” (1964)

51. The Monkees “I’m a Believer” (1966)
52. The Beatles “She Loves You” (1963)
53. U2 “With Or Without You” (1987)
54. The Human League “Don’t You Want Me?” (1981)
55. Chic “Le Freak” (1978)
56. Britney Spears “Baby One More Time” (1998)
57. Madonna “Like a Prayer” (1989)
58. The Beach Boys “God Only Knows” (1966)
59. Simon and Garfunkel “The Sounds of Silence” (1965)
60. Al Green “Let’s Stay Together” (1971)

61. Coolio with L.V. “Gangsta’s Paradise” (1995)
62. Oasis “Wonderwall” (1995)
63. U2 “One” (1992)
64. Roberta Flack “Killing Me Softly with His Song” (1973)
65. Blondie “Heart of Glass” (1978)
66. Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980)
67. The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever” (1967)
68. The Beatles “A Day in the Life” (1967)
69. Del Shannon “Runaway” (1961)
70. Elvis Presley “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (1960)

71. The Jackson 5 “I Want You Back” (1969)
72. Simon & Garfunkel “Mrs. Robinson” (1968)
73. Soft Cell “Tainted Love” (1981)
74. The Verve “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (1997)
75. The Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1968)
76. Jerry Lee Lewis “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” (1957)
77. Steppenwolf “Born to Be Wild” (1968)
78. Carl Perkins “Blue Suede Shoes” (1956)
79. Roberta Flack “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (1969)
80. Patsy Cline “Crazy” (1961)

81. Village People “Y.M.C.A.” (1978)
82. The Mamas & the Papas “California Dreamin’” (1966)
83. Van Halen “Jump” (1984)
84. Queen “Another One Bites the Dust” (1980)
85. The Clash “London Calling” (1979)
86. Little Richard “Tutti Frutti” (1955)
87. Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth” (1967)
88. Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” (1956)
89. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Purple Haze” (1967)
90. Madonna “Like a Virgin” (1984)

91. Bob Marley & the Wailers “No Woman, No Cry” (1974)
92. Radiohead “Creep” (1993)
93. Billie Holiday “Strange Fruit” (1939)
94. David Bowie “Space Oddity” (1969)
95. The Miracles “The Tracks of My Tears” (1965)
96. The Knack “My Sharona” (1979)
97. Led Zeppelin “Whole Lotta Love” (1969)
98. Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” (1983)
99. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five “The Message” (1982)
100. The Beatles with Billy Preston “Get Back” (1969)

101. AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long” (1980)
102. Marvin Gaye “Let’s Get It On” (1973)
103. The Shirelles “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (1960)
104. Ritchie Valens “La Bamba” (1958)
105. The Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” (1968)
106. Paul Whiteman with George Gershwin “Rhapsody in Blue” (1924)
107. Henry Mancini with Audrey Hepburn “Moon River” (1961)
108. Buddy Holly & the Crickets “Peggy Sue” (1957)
109. Dire Straits “Sultans of Swing” (1978)
110. Madonna “Music” (2000)

111. New Order “Blue Monday” (1983)
112. Sex Pistols “Anarchy in the U.K.” (1976)
113. TLC “Waterfalls” (1995)
114. The Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love” (1964)
115. Johnny Cash “I Walk the Line” (1956)
116. The Supremes “Stop! In the Name of Love” (1965)
117. Alanis Morissette “You Oughta Know” (1995)
118. Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under the Bridge” (1992)
119. The Who “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (1971)
120. Fleetwood Mac “Go Your Own Way” (1977)

121. Frankie Goes to Hollywood “Relax” (1983)
122. Eminem with Dido “Stan” (2000)
123. Duke Ellington “Take the ‘A’ Train” (1941)
124. Isaac Hayes “Theme from Shaft” (1971)
125. Beck “Loser” (1993)
126. Little Eva Little Eva “The Loco-Motion” (1962)
127. David Bowie “Heroes” (1977)
128. Lou Reed “Walk on the Wild Side” (1972)
129. Harry James Orchestra with Frank Sinatra “All or Nothing at All” (1939)
130. Chuck Berry “Maybellene” (1955)

131. The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” (2003)
132. Jefferson Airplane “White Rabbit” (1967)
133. Cyndi Lauper “Time After Time” (1984)
134. Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (1985)
135. The Everly Brothers “Bye Bye Love” (1957)
136. Woody Guthrie “This Land Is Your Land” (1944)
137. Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” (1985)
138. James Brown “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” (1965)
139. Ike & Tina Turner “River Deep, Mountain High” (1966)
140. Coldplay “Clocks” (2002)

141. Gladys Knight & the Pips “Midnight Train to Georgia” (1973)
142. The Beatles “in My Life” (1965)
143. Chic “Good Times” (1979)
144. Frank Sinatra “My Way” (1969)
145. Sheryl Crow “All I Wanna Do” (1993)
146. Peter Gabriel “Sledgehammer” (1986)
147. Sly & The Family Stone “Everyday People” (1968)
148. R.E.M. “Everybody Hurts” (1992)
149. Pink Floyd “Comfortably Numb” (1979)
150. Bruce Springsteen “Born in the U.S.A.” (1984)

151. Wilson Picket “In the Midnight Hour” (1965)
152. The Kinks “Lola” (1970)
153. The Rolling Stones “Angie” (1973)
154. The Kinks “Waterloo Sunset” (1967)
155. Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water” (1973)
156. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott “Get Ur Freak On” (2001)
157. Oasis “Live Forever” (1994)
158. Metallica “Enter Sandman” (1991)
159. The Who “Baba O’Riley” (1971)
160. Free “All Right Now” (1970)

161. Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime” (1981)
162. Hank Williams “Your Cheatin’ Heart” (1953)
163. Pretenders “Brass in Pocket” (1979)
164. U2 “Pride (In the Name of Love)” (1984)
165. Culture Club “Karma Chameleon” (1983)
166. OutKast “Ms. Jackson” (2000)
167. Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps “Be-Bop-A-Lula” (1956)
168. 10cc “I’m Not in Love” (1975)
169. Dion “Runaround Sue” (1961)
170. David Bowie “Changes” (1972)

171. Roy Orbison “Only the Lonely” (1960)
172. Madonna “Into the Groove” (1985)
173. Bo Diddley “Bo Diddley” (1955)
174. The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” (1969)
175. Marty Robbins “El Paso” (1959)
176. Louis Armstrong “West End Blues” (1928)
177. Pulp “Common People” (1995)
178. Black Eyed Peas with Justin Timberlake “Where Is the Love?” (2003)
179. The Rolling Stones “Start Me Up” (1981)
180. Cream “Sunshine of Your Love” (1967)

181. Coldplay “Yellow” (2000)
182. Elton John “Bennie and the Jets” (1973)
183. The Beatles “I Feel Fine” (1964)
184. Count Basie “One O’Clock Jump” (1937)
185. The Troggs “Wild Thing” (1966)
186. The Beatles “Come Together” (1969)
187. The Band “The Weight” (1968)
188. Jackie Wilson “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Higher” (1967)
189. Dave Brubeck Quartet “Take Five” (1959)
190. Roger Miller “King of the Road” (1965)

191. INXS “Need You Tonight” (1987)
192. Creedence Clearwater Revival “Fortunate Son” (1969)
193. Aretha Franklin “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” (1967)
194. Crowded House “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (1987)
195. Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls” (1985)
196. Bob Dylan “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (1964)
197. The Impressions “People Get Ready” (1965)
198. The Beatles “Ticket to Ride” (1965)
199. Bruce Springsteen “Thunder Road” (1975) 200. Madonna “Ray of Light” (1998)

201. Bob Dylan “Tangled Up in Blue” (1975)
202. Bobbie Gentry “Ode to Billie Joe” (1967)

Resources/Related Links:

Saturday, November 26, 2005

50 years ago: Little Richard charted with “Tutti Frutti”

Tutti Frutti

Little Richard

Writer(s): Little Richard, Dorothy LaBostrie (see lyrics here)

Released: October 1955

First Charted: November 26, 1955

Peak: 17 US, 10 CB, 2 RB, 29 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 31.53 video, 98.65 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The 22-year-old Richard Penniman, aka “Little Richard,” was looking for a breakthrough in 1955 when he went into a New Orleans recording studio to lay down his first tracks for Specialty Records. He “started extemporizing verses of ‘Tutti Frutti,’ a risque feature of his club sets.” NRR As he said, “I’d been singing ‘Tutti-Frutti’ for years, but it never struck me as a song you’d record.” RS500

Bob Dylan said “Little Richard is the master of the double entendre.” BD He “took speaking in tongues right out of the sweat canvas tent and put it on the mainstream radio.” BD Lyrics like “Tutti frutti, loose booty/ If it don’t fit, don’t force it/ You can grease it, make it easy” were deemed too raunchy, “so Dorothy La Bostrie was called in to sanitize them; she gave Richard a gal named Sue (“She knows just what to do”) and another named Daisy (“She almost drive me crazy”). TM The results made the song “barely eligible for radio airplay.” MA

“Kids scrambled to decipher the meaning of the sounds emitted by the pompadoured piano dervish…but really, the words weren’t nearly as important as the remorselessly frenetic beat, the propulsive piano work and the primal, screaming vocal.” TM Jimi Hendrix, who worked as a sideman for Richard in 1964, said, “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.” TM

Little Richard “fused a unique falsetto and gospel scream that simultaneously oozed sexuality and spirituality. His performances and wardrobe were wild and outlandish. His androgynous stage persona would be reflected by Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and Prince. FR The man who’d grown up in the South “black, gay, and outrageous…was so far out he was in.” SA His first chart single became a signature in the early days of rock and roll, cementing him as one of the genre’s forefathers.


  • BD Bob Dylan (2022). The Philosophy of Modern Song. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. Pages 29-30.
  • FR Paul Friedlander (1996). Rock and Roll: A Social History. Boulder, Colorado; Westview Press, Inc. Pages 38-9.
  • MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Pages 11.
  • NRR National Recording Registry
  • RS500 (4/7/2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SA David Sadowski (1999). Haven’t Named It Yet: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Prehistory, 1926-55.
  • TM Time magazine (10/24/2011). “All Time 100 Songs

Related Links:

First posted 3/6/2021; last updated 11/6/2022.

50 years ago: Tennessee Ernie Ford “Sixteen Tons” hit #1 on the pop charts

Sixteen Tons

Tennessee Ernie Ford

Writer(s): Merle Travis (see lyrics here)

Released: October 17, 1955

First Charted: October 24, 1955

Peak: 18 US, 15HP, 17 CB, 17 HR, 110 CW, 14 UK, 16 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 12.8 video, 45.0 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Merle Travis was born in Rosewood, Kentucky, as the son of a mine worker in coal country. He was able to get out of that life by forming a band and playing music, even while serving in the marines. By 1946, he was recording for Capitol Records. His biggest hit was “Divorce Me C.O.D.,” which spent 14 weeks atop the country charts.

A&R man Cliffie Stone thought Travis had pop potential and encouraged him to write original folk ballads instead of modern versions of old folk songs. Travis wrote several “working-type songs” AC but told Stone “these songs are nothing more than a lot of junk.” AC

In 1949, Stone signed “Tennessee” Ernie Ford to a record deal. He achieved major crossover success with “Sixteen Tons,” a song about a Kentucky coal miner which came Merle’s “junk” pool. The chorus was based on a letter from his brother John, a coal miner, who wrote, “You load 16 tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.” SS Merle also remembered his father, Rob, saying, “I can’t afford to die. I owe my soul to the company store.” SS The lines made it into the song, which Travis said “wasn’t really written to be serious,” noting “no man could load a ton of coal in a day” and mocking his own line, “Who could pick up a shovel the day they were born?” AC

However, while millions of listeners had never been anywhere close to a coal mine, they could feel “ a miner’s pain and frustrations.” AC The song “also began to reveal the power of country music to effect social change.” AC The song also brought attention to how coal companies had taken advantage of their workers and brought light to issues such as black lung disease and unsafe working conditions.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Tennessee Ernie Ford
  • AC Ace Collins (1996). The Stories Behind Country Music’s All-Time Greatest 100 Songs. New York, NY; The Berkley Publishing Group. Pages 91-3.
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 78-80.
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 8/26/2022.