For the record, this is not a best songs list, quite simply a list of some of the well-crafted musical genius, which pre-dates the year 2000. Music that future generations will need to hear (in order to realise that the majority of POP music today lacks passion, soul, empathy, emotion, creativity and beauty in general). Why? you might ask, did I choose to pick songs from before the year 2000 and why, precisely 33 songs?…Well, firstly, It’s my article and I don’t care if 33 is an odd number. And secondly, I personally believe that as we are progressing into the 21st century the youth of today are losing touch with what was the ‘foundations’ of contemporary music. So if you place yourself in that category allow me to educate you, relax and enjoy a breathtaking insight into 20th century music. If on the other hand you were brought up well-cultured, then you will probably just enjoy having a look at what I picked out – an array of some of the finest music of all time (In no particular order by the way).
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams (Year – 1977 Genre – Soft Rock)
Dreams, A personal favourite of mine and a track that truly, will never grow old. The song creates a soothing feeling of tranquility and highlights the beauty of Stevie Nicks’ voice, a voice unlike any other. From the album ‘Rumours’ – renowned as one of the greatest albums of all time. If you like this you will love some other Fleetwood Mac greats such as ‘The Chain’, ‘Rhiannon’, ‘Songbird’ and many others by the best selling British-American Band.
Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing (Year – 1978 Genre – Rock)
The duet between the Rhythm Guitar and the smooth lyrics of Mark Knopfler create a mellow feeling of joy, Sultans Of Swing is a story told as a second person narrative about the London Jazz experience and is based on Knopfler watching a band perform in a pub in Deptford, at the end of the song the performers supposedly finish by saying “Thank you. We are the sultans of swing.”Aside from the story it’s simply a great song, yet it was a hard decision picking this over ‘Brothers In Arms’ by Dire Straits (So listen to them both)
Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Year – 1963 Genre – Country Folk)
One of the best songs by one of the best artists, Bob Dylan radiates the same greatness on this song as he would any other which he touches. Bob Dylan is more than a singer but an artist and writer. His songs chronicled social unrest throughout modern history, I mean Cambridge university is running a new course devoted to Bob Dylan for Gods sake! Other great tracks include, ‘Blowin’ in the wind’, ‘All along the watchtower’ ‘Hurricane’ and ‘It ain’t me babe’.
Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water (Year – 1970 Genre – Folk Rock)
A song covered by almost everyone from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash This rather ‘hymn-like’ song is beautifully sung by Art Garfunkel, the track was the first song and even title to their fifth and final album. The duo split after the album but left one of the most melodious tracks that will forever remain in history.
Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M (Year – 1993 Genre – Hip-Hop)
C.R.E.A.M (Cash Rules Everything Around Me) is the 8th track on the group’s first collective album and is regarded as one of the most influential and insightful songs of the Hip-Hop genre. The rappers speak of life growing up in the projects in Staten Island NY and how the streets affected their lives and mentality. With some great beats and some great lyrics from one of the most celebrated Hip-Hop groups, comes an epic track.
Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (Year – 1976 Genre – Classic rock)
A wonderful and philosophical song with a great message. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper portrays life in it’s blatant simplicity, we live and we die. Although at first glance the song may seem rather depressing it is actually incredibly upbeat. ‘Don’t fear the reaper’ is just saying don’t fear your death, nature does not fear it, so why should we when there is freedom in death – the line “We’ll be able to fly” is uttered. Aside from the philosophical message, the guitar riff is excellent accompanied by the beautiful melodic voice of lead singer Donald Roeser. I would definitely recommend B.Ö.C, especially songs such as ‘I Love The Night’ and ‘Then Came The Last Days Of May’. They are a versatile band with hard rock and soft, more mellow rock (which are their better songs in my opinion).
Bob Marley – Redemption Song (Year – 1980 Genre – Reggae)
Sung the year before he died, Marley reflects on an illustrious career in his final ever song but more than just that, he reflects on his life in general and that the purpose of his life was to become the teacher to millions of people, he embodies his spirit in this song when he says “My hand was made strong by the hand of the almighty” and “emancipate yourself from mental slavery”. In Redemption Song he urges people to sing his songs of uprising, the song was written after Marley was diagnosed with cancer. As he says the line “all I ever have” he is talking about how meaningful his purpose was, and with these songs he is still aiding the fight from beyond the grave.
America – Sister Golden Hair (Year – 1975 Genre – Rock)
This Beatlesque song was a number one hit and like ‘A Horse With No Name’ (Which is also excellent) it has no direct interoperation, all we can immediately decipher is that it is an enigmatic track with lots of harmony from a very prominent band of the 70’s.
Jimi Hendrix – Little Wing (Year – 1967 Genre – Rock)
Jimi Hendrix was a rock legend and his techniques were way ahead of his time. He’s known for creating unusually creative riffs. He could even play guitar with his teeth, and even behind his shoulders. His lyrics are so touching yet crazy, although Little Wing is one of his more slower tempo, rhythm and blues tracks – it is nonetheless a perfect song with vocals and guitar by Hendrix and it is one of his most concise and melodically-focused pieces.
A Tribe Called Quest – Buggin’ Out (Year – 1991 Genre – Hip-Hop)
I have always loved A Tribe Called Quest they consistently (from their songs) show a laid back and relaxed feeling unlike many other artists of the genre. Phife Dawg and Q-tip have unreal chemistry and due to the contrast of their voices you always look forward to hearing one or the other during their songs. Originality is one of the factors that propelled them into Hip-Hop stardom, they were like a breath of fresh air on the Hip-Hop scene, rapping about mature, adult topics unlike many of the rappers today, who rap about clubs and ‘bitches’, but Tribe were so much more than that. They have such a unique sound that you want to listen to them simply for the personality and love they have for the music they make. ‘Buggin’ Out’ is a fine example of a great Tribe song, the two MC’s come in with an explosive entrance alongside the great beats and bass of Ali Shaheed Muhammad (the 3rd member). Tribe will forever remain one of the pioneers of Hip-Hop, R.I.P Phife Dawg (centre) who died last year at the age of 45.
Sting & The Police – Englishman In New York (Year – 1988 Genre – Rock/Jazz)
Englishman in New York is a really mellow track, Sting’s vocals are so calm and create such a dreamy effect, alongside the great instrumentals backing him. The soft percussion and the ‘classy’ saxophone solo in the middle showcased their blues/jazz style which they added to the new wave of rock and roll which arose during the late 80’s into the 90’s and they were at the forefront of this with other great tracks such as ‘Brand New Day’ and ‘Desert Rose’ which would come before the millenium.