The Greatest Songs Dedicated To Rock And Roll
Since rock and roll first came onto the music scene, it has provided a platform for artists to express themselves in a way that once wasn’t possible. Over the years, common themes have ranged from love, life, heartbreak, partying, and of course, rock and roll itself. Rock and roll is a genre that’s so beloved by its fans, that those who play it write ballads about their love for it. Now, take a look to see some of these great songs dedicated to the genre.
Bill Haley And His Comets: "(We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock"
Released in 1954, "Rock Around The Clock" is credited as one of the first songs to introduce this new style of music to the world. Although it wasn’t the first rock and roll song ever released it was the first successful song of the genre.
It became the first rock and roll song to reach No. 1 in Billboard Hot 100 history after it was picked as the opening song to the MGM film Blackboard Jungle. Teenagers were going to see the film just to dance to the opening credits.
Billy Joel: "It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me"
“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” is a 1980 hit track by the piano man Billy Joel. Released on his album Glass House, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually went Platinum for selling over 1 million copies in the United States.
The song was a reaction to the explosion of new genres of music such as punk and new wave in the 1970s, and the pressure to change according to the direction of music.
Don McLean: “American Pie”
Don McLean’s chart-topping eight-minute ballad has been dissected by music fanatics since its release in 1971. The song is an account of what happened to McLean’s favorite genre, referencing “the day that the music died” to the plane crash in 1959 that killed early rock and roll performers Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens.
McLean has refused to explain the symbolism behind many of the other events and characters, leaving much of it up for interpretation.
Queen: “We Will Rock You”
If you can’t tell by the title, “We Will Rock You” is a song that describes the rush of adrenaline that rock and roll fans experience when listening to their music. Recorded in 1997 for the album News of the World, the song has gone on to become a pump-up song at sporting events and even some rock concerts.
It has been ranked at No. 146 on the Songs of the Century list and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009.
Joan Jett And The Blackhearts: “I Love Rock And Roll”
Although the Alan Merrill of the Arrows originally wrote the song, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts managed to turn it into a major hit in 1982. The song is relatively straightforward, someone confessing their love for the genre, dancing, and never wanting the music to end.
After the frontwoman put her own flair into the song, it reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and can still be heard in dive bars around the world today.
Oasis: “Rock N’ Roll Star”
“Rock n’ Roll Star” is a song by the quarrelsome brothers of Oasis. It was the opening track for their debut album Definitely Maybe, introducing them to the world, and letting the public know what they’re about.
Noel Gallager claims that the track is one of the three songs that he actually wanted to use to send a message. While the song caught the attention of the public, it wasn’t long before some of their newer songs overshadowed their older ones.
Bob Seger: “Old Time Rock And Roll”
While Bob Seger’s song was relevant in 1979 with the rise of disco, old rockers continue to play it in defiance of the other genres or music movement that has swept over the world.
Bob Seger made it clear he’s not going to give up on rock and roll even though many were taking their dance moves to this disco floor. The track was listed as one of the Songs of the Century in 2001 and one of the top songs in American Cinema.
Grand Funk Railroad: “We’re An American Band”
Want to know what it’s like to be in a rock band? Just throw on “We’re An American Band,” and you’ll have a pretty good idea. The song was Grand Funk Railroad’s first and only No. 1 single and helped raise their popularity as a group.
The song was even sung by the band’s drummer, Don Brewer, who began to take over more songs as lead vocalist as the group became more successful and started making Top 40 hits.
Elton John: “Crocodile Rock”
Recorded in 1972, “Crocodile Rock” was a blast from the past for rock and roll fans that remembered the days when rock was new to the world. It describes the feeling that people experienced listening to this new kind of music and the memories they made enjoying it.
Interestingly enough, Elton John had admitted that he never took the song too serious although it became Elton John’s first No. 1 single in the United States and Canada.
Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Travelin’ Band”
“Travelin’ Band” by Creedence Clearwater Revival was released on their 1970 LP Cosmo’s Factory. The song describes the life of the band and all of the different modes of transportation they take, places they stay, and shows they play in order to travel around and play rock and roll.
John Fogerty claimed that his song was “his salute to Little Richard,” as the style of that song is similar to a classic 1950s rock song with Fogerty imitating Little Richard’s vocal style.
Heuy Lewis And The News: “The Heart Of Rock And Roll”
After playing what at the time was “the best show of their lives in Cleveland,” the Huey Lewis and the News decided to write a song on the bus. In an interview, saxophonist Johnny Colla said that Huey had an idea to write a song about the heart of rock and roll being in Cleveland.
After a few weeks of tweaking, the song was ready for recording. It was released as the third single from their album Sports and peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Led Zeppelin: “Rock And Roll”
Being one of the most revered rock and roll bands of all time, it was no surprise when Led Zeppelin released their song “Rock and Roll.” It was a song that captured the essence of the genre with a little Led Zeppelin twist.
It follows the most popular structure in rock music, the three-chord song, befitting of its name. The song was written in just 15 minutes and has been described as “simply the most dynamic hard-rock song in the music.”
Chuck Berry: “Rock And Roll Music”
“Rock and Roll Music” was a 1957 single that was written and recorded by rock icon Chuck Berry. The song reached No. 6 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart and No. 8 on the Hot 100. The song has been covered by countless artists and is considered to be one of Berry’s most popular and well-recognized songs.
The song was ranked No. 128 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is included in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame’s Songs That Have Shaped Rock and Roll.
AC/DC: “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”
“It’s a Long Way To the Top” is the first track off of AC/DC’s second album T.N.T. The album was released only in Australia in 1975 with two versions of the song, varying in length. The shortened version was released on their internationally released album High Voltage in 1976.
The song describes the hardships of being in a rock and roll band such as being assaulted, robbed, getting high, and even cheated by a manager. But that’s what it takes if you want to rock and roll.
Twisted Sister: “I Wanna Rock”
Written by Dee Snider and performed by his band Twisted Sister, “I Wanna Rock” was released on the band’s 1984 album Stay Hungry. Although the song didn’t do incredibly well on the charts, it was received by fans much like how their hit song “We’re Not Gonna Take It Was.”
The band is simply expressing their desire to keep doing what they love to do: rock out. Today, it’s considered to be one of the band’s greatest hits and was ranked as the 17th Greatest Hard Rock Song by VH1 in 2009.
KISS: “Rock And Roll All Nite”
“Rock and Roll All Nite” is an original song by KISS on their 1975 album Dressed To Kill. While their original release of the song peaked at No. 68 on the Billboard Singles chart, the live version they released later that year made it to No. 12.
This was the first of six Top 20 songs KISS would have in the 1970s. The track has become KISS’ signature song and has closed out just about every concert they have ever performed since 1976.
The Rolling Stones: “It’s Only Rock And Roll (But I Like It)”
In 1974, the track “It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)” was used as the single for the group’s album It’s Only Rock and Roll. Written by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, the single went on to reach the Top 10 charts in the UK and the Top 20 in the United States.
As described by Mick Jagger, “The idea of the song has to do with our public persona at the time. I was getting a bit tired of people having a go, all that, ‘oh, it’s not as good as their last one’ business.”
The Byrds: “So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘N’ Star”
Written by Jim McGuinn and Chris Hillman of the Byrds, “So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” was released on the band’s 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday. The song was inspired by the formulaic style of the Monkees and was essentially an ironic step-by-step guide on how to become a successful rock star.
While the band had achieved success overnight with their cover of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” they knew that finding success wasn’t the hardest part of being a musician but maintaining success was.
Boston: “Rock & Roll Band”
“Rock & Roll Band” written by Tom Scholz and performed with Boston. The song is an over-exaggerated story of the band’s rise from being a simple bar band into a successful group. This is one of the many songs that Boston plays that expresses their emotional connection to rock and roll.
It was released on the band’s debut album, and was one of the many songs Scholz had been working on in his basement for years before finally getting a record contract.
The Kinks: “A Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy”
“A Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy” was used as the single and fourth track to the Kink’s 1978 album Misfits. The song was inspired due to the issues going on within the band at the time with two members leaving and the near dissolution of the group.
The song describes a man named Dan who’s a major fan of the Kinks and uses their music as a means of escape and to live in a “rock ‘n’ roll fantasy.”