The 500 greatest songs of all time


"The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" was the cover story of a special issue of Rolling Stone, issue number 963, published December 9, 2004,[1] a year after the magazine published its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".


  • "Like a Rolling Stone" by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was chosen as number one. The single was released on July 20, 1965.
  • The list is mostly composed of North American and British artists and is largely post mid-20th century. Of the 500 songs, 352 are from the United States and 117 from the United Kingdom; they are followed by Ireland with 12 entries (of which 8 were composed by U2), Canada with 10, Jamaica with 7 (most of them by Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff and Toots & the Maytals), Australia with three (AC/DC with two) and a lone song from Sweden (by ABBA).
  • The list includes just one song entirely not in English – "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens (345).
  • Few songs written prior to the 1950s are featured – examples include Robert Johnson's 1936 "Crossroads", here cited in its Cream version, and Hank Williams' 1949 "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry". "The House of the Rising Sun", here cited in the version by The Animals was recorded at least as early as 1934.[2] Muddy Waters' 1950 "Rollin Stone" is based on an earlier song dating to the 1920s.[3]
  • There is one instrumental featured on the list; "Green Onions" by Booker T and the MG's, (ranked 181).
  • The number of songs from each of the decades represented in the 2004 version is as follows:
Decade Number of songs Percentage
1940s 1 0.2%
1950s 72 14.4%
1960s 204 40.8%
1970s 141 28.2%
1980s 57 11.4%
1990s 22 4.4%
2000s 3 0.6%

2010 update

In May 2010, Rolling Stone compiled an updated list which was published in a special issue and in digital form for iPod and iPad applications. The list differs from the 2004 version, with all of the new additions being songs from the 2000s with the exceptions of "Juicy" by The Notorious B.I.G. and "Big Pimpin'" by Jay-Z, which were released in 1994 and 1999, respectively. A total of 25 new songs were added, the entire top 25 remained unchanged, however further down the list of 500, many songs have changed their ranking as a result of insertion of new songs causing consecutive shifts among the originally listed songs. The only new entry among the top 100 was Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" at number 100.

The number of songs from each decade in this updated version is as follows:

Decade Number of songs Percentage
1940s 1 0.2%
1950s 70 14%
1960s 195 39%
1970s 131 26.2%
1980s 55 11%
1990s 22 4.4%
2000s 26 5.2%

U2 and Jay-Z both have two songs added to the list; however, Jay-Z is also featured in an additional two other new songs on the list, "Crazy in Love" by Beyoncé, and "Umbrella" by Rihanna. The Crystals are the only artists to have had two songs dropped from the list.

See also


External links

  • Rolling Stone magazine (updated version of the list)
  • "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" 2004 version of the list by

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