This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #87: Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin.
If the “Classic Rock” genre was ever to have its own anthem, “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin would fit the bill quite nicely. In fact, I have heard this song used many times in ads for Classic Rock radio stations. “Rock and Roll” was born from the union of two of the foundational members of the genre itself. The story is that while working on the song, “Four Sticks” for the band’s fourth album, “Led Zeppelin IV”, drummer John Bonham took some time and started wailing out a Little Richard drum set which, in turn, inspired Jimmy Page to start playing some Chuck Berry guitar licks. In no time at all, both men recognized that something new and fresh and reverential, at the same time, was being created, almost by accident. So, they set “Four Sticks” aside and went straight to recording what they had come up with. What they had managed to come up with was the musical structure for “Rock and Roll”.
“Rock and Roll” found its home as the lead track on one of the most potent albums by any artist of all-time. The track listing for “Led Zeppelin IV” reads like a Greatest Hits album but, at the time, it was simply the band deciding to get back to their rock roots, after having gone a little more folksy and experimental on their previous album, “Led Zeppelin III”. “Led Zeppelin IV” contains “Rock and Roll” but, also, “When the Levee Breaks”, “Black Dog”, “The Battle of Evermore” (which I heard for the first time when Heart covered it for the movie soundtrack to “Singles”), Misty Mountain Hop”, “Going to California”, the afore-mentioned, “Four Sticks” and that most classic of classics, “Stairway to Heaven”. In fact, these are all of the songs on the album. An entire album of classic bangers! Definitely, a strong, strong effort by the boys in the band!
As for the song, itself. The lyrics pay homage to some elements from music history such as the song, “The Book of Love”, as well as dances like, “The Stroll”. “Rock and Roll” was inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in the Song Category. It was, also, selected by Rolling Stone Magazine as being one of the 500 most influential tracks, in any genre, of all-time. For my money, one of the ways you can judge how a band feels about a song of theirs is where they place the song on their setlist during their live shows. For Led Zeppelin, “Rock and Roll” either opened their show, closed their show or else, opened the encore. It was never left in the mushy middle of the set. So, without further delay, let’s get to some of the finest classic rock n’ roll ever recorded. Here is Led Zeppelin with “Rock and Roll” from one of the biggest, baddest albums ever, “Led Zeppelin IV”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Led Zeppelin, can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.