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marinelife's avatar

What are your candidates for 'Greatest Song Ever Written' and what makes up a 'Greatest Song Ever Written'?

Asked by marinelife (57936 points ) January 31st, 2009

I have been pondering this question for a few days since viewing a YouTube video of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which the poster had labeled as noted above.

While I think that’s a great song, even a favorite of mine, I don’t know if I would choose it as the greatest ever.

That got me to thinking about what makes up a ‘greatest song.’ I decided that for me, it’s a song that tells a story or evokes a mood perfectly with spare and beautiful lyrics and a great melody.

So, some of my candidates include Summertime, Somewhere Over a Rainbow, Something Wonderful, Mr Bojangles and Yesterday.

What are your candidates?

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32 Answers

scamp's avatar

Way over Yonder is my all time favorite, but I doubt many would agree it would be considered one of the all time greatest songs. It’s all a matter of personal taste..

marinelife's avatar

@scamp Great choice! Carole King is a wonderful songwriter with many great songs. To me, Tapestry is one of the best albums ever.

bythebay's avatar

I like:
Imagine – J.Lennon
What A Wonderful World – Thiele, Weiss & Douglas
Your Song – John & Taupin
I adore Carol King, my fave of hers is It’s Too Late

Bluefreedom's avatar

What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles
Fire & Rain – James Taylor
Desperado – The Eagles

Tapesty is amazing, in my opinion. That gets my vote for one of the best albums ever also.

Blondesjon's avatar

World on a String, Can I steal a Little Love, That’s Life

Sinatra

Something, Don’t Let Me Down, HideYour Love Away

The Beatles

All of my Love

Led Zeppelin

i almost choked up when I found out robert plant wrote it for his little boy who drowned

chyna's avatar

@Bluefreedom Lurve for Louis Armstrong

SuperMouse's avatar

Misty by Erroll Garner
American Pie by Don McLean,
Twist and Shout by Bill Medley & Bert Russell
Good Vibrations by Brian Wilson

marinelife's avatar

Great ones, everyone. I am enjoying rediscovering them.

marinelife's avatar

@Elumas No, no, anything but Rick Roll again.

Elumas's avatar

@Marina I’m sorry, I had to.

Harp's avatar

I’ll set aside my personal favorites list here and nominate Greensleeves. That tune has lasted for for over 4 centuries (even Shakespeare wrote about it), and is recognizable over most of the Western world. There’s something universally enchanting about it, especially that glorious G chord that announces the refrain.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Harp, Great Answer for Greensleeves!

I just thought of one I would more I would have to include, Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, for Greensleeves. Although would you prefer the original or the Christmas “What Child Is This” in terms of lyrics?

Adina1968's avatar

Hey Jude – The Beatles
Mona Lisa – Nat King Cole
Sunshine On My Shoulders – John Denver

marinelife's avatar

@Adina1968 Good choices. John Denver is often mocked as a songwriter, but I think his songs resonate with people’s heartstrings and are universal because of their simplicity. I still think Annie’s Song is a wonderful love song and I love Country Road.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@Marina and @Adina1968. John Denver made some beautiful music. Some other selections by him that were great were Fly Away, Shanghai Breezes, and Rocky Mountain High.

It was really sad that he had to die so young.

Adina1968's avatar

@Marina I really have to give the credit to my Dad. I get my love of music from him, as I was growing up we would listen to all kinds of different music. Country, Oldies, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Motown, 60’s, 70’s, all kinds of stuff. I consider myself very fortunate. :-)

aprilsimnel's avatar

Because it is the only rock ‘n’ roll record on the Voyager disc, floating out past Pluto even now:

Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry

and my list:

I Feel Fine – The Beatles
Yesterday – The Beatles
Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
Sing – The Carpenters

Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Sing, sing a song!

augustlan's avatar

What a Wonderful World – sung by Louis Armstrong
Something – George Harrison
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
Imagine – John Lennon
Annie’s Song – John Denver

Jack79's avatar

As much as I hate to hear it after all these years, and particularly to sing it, I’d go for “Blowing in the Wind”. I think it has the universality that your question implies, and even though all of us have favourite songs that may even change from time to time, this one is an all-time great. For me it is actually the definition of “song” as we know it, and its creation was a defining moment in music history. In terms of importance, one could also of course say “Blue Suede Shoes”. Or “Let it Be”. Two of the greatest hits ever.

A song that I’d always felt had an immence significance but was overall underrated is “Nikita” by Elton John, talking about the Cold War. It is very significant for me anyway, since I spent half my life knowing I’d never be able to see on the other side of the Berlin Wall, then the other half travelling around Eastern Europe.

madcapper's avatar

“As Wicked” by Rancid cuz everytime I wanna die this song keeps me going…

cookieman's avatar

“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers

“A Foggy Day” by Billie Holiday

“Nothing Man” by Pearl Jam

“Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan (yay Jack79)

“Angel from Montgomery” by Bonnie Raitt

“River” by Joni Mitchell

“Rainbow Connection” by Sarah McGlaughlin.

“The Things we Handed Down” by Marc Cohen.

For me, a song has to be moving or stir emotions. It’s a good sign if I’m crying by the end of the song.

But “of all time”?
I’m going to have to go with “Imagine” by…well you know.

Judi's avatar

I think that’s like asking me my favorite color. It all depends on my mood and if I had to choose one only it’s meaning would be lost by the absence ot the others.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i can’t pick a ‘greatest song ever written’ for everybody, but to me, i’d have to pick a song by conor oberst. i think he’s one of the most incredible lyricist.
for me, a song is really perfect when i can feel it, not just hear it.

my favourites:
what a wonderful world – louis armstrong
saturday as usual – bright eyes
land locked blues – bright eyes
my rollercoaster – kimya dawson (it’s so simple and childish and blunt, but there’s still a lot of emotion and life in it. also she references other great songs in it)
on my way – ben kweller
piano man – billy joel
i’m amazed – my morning jacket
i thought i saw your face today – she & him

there are so many more that i have, because they’re all so wonderful in their own way. like, there’s a rancid song or two that i think are just amazing, but most people would just be like “oh, this is a fun kick ass song i guess”. i don’t know haha

Judi's avatar

I DO think that this song will be playing as I walk into heaven. Pachelbel Cannon in D Major

marinelife's avatar

@Judi Pachelbel’s Canon is one of the great and timeless melodies for sure. Very peace inducing.

Harp's avatar

@Judi I’m expecting “Return to Sender”

candacewells4's avatar

personally, i love imogen heap songs. “headlock” is one of my favorite ever. the instrumentation is amazing.

candacewells4's avatar

anything by lifehouse. the songs “everything” and “storm” in particular.

Shuttle128's avatar

I have a lot of favorites and don’t propose any of them to be the greatest ever written….

For Rock:
Jessica – The Allman Brother’s Band
While My Guitar Gently Weeps – George Harrison
Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Behind Blue Eyes – The Who
Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf

Classical:
4th Symphony – Mozart
Moonlight Sonata – Beethoven
Concerto in D Minor – Bach (mostly just for the oboe)

I’m not a huge fan of Baroque though….

I really love a fairly unknown skate punk band from Sweden called Millencolin that really takes the cake for me. My fave from them is a toss up between Lozin’ Must and Boring Planet.

lacielee's avatar

Aerosmith…Angel
Enough said

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