Thursday, February 11, 2010

This Week’s Very Important Question

On the way home from Anchorage tonight I was listening to my ZEN instead of my usual NPR and the news.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been loading up some pre-programmed playlists. Vintage stuff mostly.

One of those lists was “Greatest Rock Anthems of All Time,” those great power ballads of my teenaged years, 70’s classic rock. You know, that great music we all thought would never die.

Except, well, maybe some of those songs should die. Quietly.

Granted, there’s a serious nostalgia factor here and I’m willing to cut many of those old tunes some slack, they bring back great memories of my first car and school dances and the rumble of 33 vinyl on a belt driven turntable blasting through a tube amp. 

But others? Well, let’s just say that - from the perspective that the intervening thirty years have given me - some of those songs didn’t age well. Really, not at all.

Take Kansas. In the 70’s they were everywhere, on every radio station, in every cassette player.  I probably listened to Point of Know Return a million times and I still enjoy hearing it. The MTV video is pretty hysterical too, now, but I remember when those effects were cutting edge (the hair, well, that never goes out of style):

But then there’s Dust in the Wind, probably Kansas’ best known hit and one of the “Greatest Rock Anthems.”

Holy freakin’ crap what a depressing tune. God Gravy, man, don’t listen to it alone in the car, you’ll end up driving straight into a bridge abutment.  I’m sure there’s a video of it somewhere out there in the bleak gray soulless desolation of the dying and lonely Internet, but I’m not linking to it here. You can go find it for yourself. I’d recommend you make sure your Xanax prescription is up to date first though. It’s a wonder any of us made it out of the 70’s alive.

Next up?

Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven.  Hey, Zeppelin had some great tunes, but seriously folks Stairway isn’t one of them.  Oh sure, I can hear your heads exploding from here (and an especially loud bang from somewhere in North Carolina). Yes, I know. Stairway was the most requested FM radio song in the 70’s, hell I’m pretty sure I was one of those callers.  I know it’s considered one of the top five greatest rock tunes of all time by pretty much any compilation you can name. But damn, folks, have you listened to this song? I mean as an adult? As a sober adult. Really, check out the lyrics. They not not profound, they’re complete nonsense:

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The truth will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll
And she's buying a stairway
To heaven...

What the fuck is that?

It’s gibberish, that’s what it is. Gibberish. It’s not because I’m old, it’s gibberish. The whole damned song is like that. I know, I know, but face it folks, if it only makes sense after a tab of acid and two doobies rolled from pages torn out of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, it’s probably really just complete crap. And speaking of gibberish – anything by The Doors. Just sayin’.

Styx’s The Grand Illusion aged pretty well I thought, Alan Parson Pyramid sure didn’t (though I still love In the Lap of the Gods, though I don’t think you could call it rock and roll).

Then there are songs I absolutely hated when they were popular.

And now?

Now they make me smile and crank up the volume until my ears bleed. AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long for example.

Or Twisted Sister, We’re Not Going To Take It. This has got to be one of the best MTV rock videos ever made (of course, it helps if you’ve seen Animal House).


So anyway, here’s your question, in two parts: a) Worst Rock Anthem Ever? and b) Best Rock Anthem Ever?  


Remember, the correct answer grants you access to the shelter when the zombie apocalypse comes, the wrong answer will likely result in your untimely conversion into zombiechow.  Think carefully, the songs in column B will likely end up as the soundtrack within the shelter – try to pick something that goes well with machinegun fire. Imagine blasting the shambling undead to Twisted Sister. Cool huh? Fun? Yes.   Now imagine facing a wall of reanimated corpses bent on murderous intent to the sounds of Dust in the Wind. See?  Bring that shit into the shelter and you’re going to get sent out for a bottle of record cleaner in the middle of the night.


Think about it.


  1. You know that Kansas has come out in favor of Intelligent Design, including a rewrite of "Dust In The Wind", right?

    hankin: getting your groove on to the godfather of country music; I was going down the highway when "Honky Tonkin'" came up on the ol' iPod and I had to crank it up and start hankin'.

  2. Admit it, you've just been waiting, waiting like a trapdoor spider, for me to write this post. Just so you whip that out. Haven't you?


  3. Actually, it coincidentally showed up on Pharyngula a week or two ago and caused me to laugh my ass off--especially the panel with the poor drummer.


    slypen: how I'd like to characterize my writing, but who am I kidding?

  4. hm - Ob-la-di-ob-la-da for the worst, even though it is the Beatles - maybe it being them makes it even worse.

    We Are The Champions, or pretty much most of the songs on the Live Killers or News of the World albums for some of the best - hard to pick a best best. I can think of some 10CC, Thin Lizzy, BOC, and a few Alice Cooper songs as well... hmm - I think I need to revive the ole tape deck.

  5. Long time reader, first time poster.

    Anything from the debut Boston album, and speaking of Parsons, I Robot, Wouldn't Want To Be Like You.

  6. Ahmm...

    I'd like to refer you a lesser know commandments that you seem to have missed given your attitude towards religion:

    The 27th commandment: Thou shalt not insult "The Doors" lest thy private parts shrivel and become as the mustard seed.

    As for "Stairway to Heaven," it's been way overplayed, but it's still a good song. Robert Plant has times when he's tired of it and has said so in print, but he's also said in print that it was influenced by Lewis Spence's Magic Arts in Celtic Britain.

    Best rock anthems have to include The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" (pre-CSI overplay), Kiss' "I Want To Rock and Roll All Night (And Party Every Day)," The Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop," and Niel Young's "Rockin' in the Free World."

    Worst has to include Air Supply's "All Out Of Love," and Europe's "The Final Countdown."

  7. This is actually a difficult post since I am not a classic rock guy. I grew up in the Gen X decade and that alone will probably not get me access to your shelter.

    Worst = "Dirty White Boy" - Foreigner; "Radio Ga Ga" - Queen.

    Best - "All Along The Watchtower" - Jimi Hendrix; "Smoke on the Water" Deep Purple (one of the most recognizable guitar riffs ever!)

  8. Best - Queen, We Are the Champions

    Worst - Queen, We Are the Champions

    Was I the only one watching the superbowl halftime show thinking: KISS. Now THEY would blow the lid off of a halftime show.
    Well, 25 years ago. But still.

    -KISS Army, 1979-1985

  9. ::puts on kevlar::

    just kidding.

    Now imagine being piled to the waist in brass and links jamming to BOC Godzilla or Don’t Fear the Reaper. Good stuff. (J Airplane: White Rabbit, is entertainment too.

    On the other hand, just about anything by Elton John, or Paul and Wings makes me want to open my veins.

    repines:Lost love. Again.

  10. Wow, Dust in the Wind was Kansas? Always thought it was Boston. City, state, whatever...

  11. I'm inclined to let Craig in the shelter no matter what his crappy x-gen taste in music. I've seen him shoot. Plus, zapping Zombies to Deep Purple appeals to me.

    Boston, good. Queen, good. Kiss, I wanna rock and roll all night, definitely zombie blasting music, but I'm warning you, Vince, try to sneak in Stairway and you're going to get assigned to perimeter patrol. Jefferson Airplane was made for shooting zombies (and now I must listen to White Rabbit on the way to Anchorage).

    Chris, you may want to rethink the whole pun thing. Sure it's funny now, but puns are almost guaranteed to leave you locked on the wrong side of the shelter door. Just sayin'.

  12. I think the term "anthem" is a little more precise than some of the use here would suggest.

    Seriously, Jim, some of us noticed that "Dust in the Wind" was depressing the first time around, *And that was the whole point.*

    Still, not a great soundtrack for the Zombie Apocalypse, unless you are thinking about the other side.

    They will also be playing "Don't Fear the Reaper."

  13. I admit that I have a profound weakness for Stairway to Heaven even though it's played a million times more than it should. I would say I just like Jimmy Page's guitar solo when he gets cranking in the middle of the song that much. It's musical ectasy.

    As for Kansas, would you take a version from one Japanese girl on a Yamaha electric organ?:



  14. great article.. I still have a love/hate relationship with some of those old songs. Take Pat Benetar, songs like "Promises in the Dark" are great songs about depressing failed love relationships, but I love the songs...sigh.

    Most of Devo, I once thought was so hip and cool, now sounds pretty bad, though there are still a few that have aged well.

    Besides pretty much all of Styx, my fav from that era is "Don't stop Believin" from Journey. Still makes me smile and sing when it comes on.

    And if you don't let me into the bunker, I'm going to stand outside with my giant boombox playing Safety Dance by the Men In Hats on infinite replay...

    ssss...aaaa...ffff...eeee...tttt..yyyy...safety dance!

  15. Can I kill the zombie Eagles- especially if they're singing "New Kid in Town?"

    shastoli- what you get when you mix your diet black cherry soda with vodka.

  16. Dude! Dust on the wind was written by those guys from Bill & Red's excellent adventure.


  17. Dust in the Wind was the song played when Tessa Noel died in Highlander: The Series, Season 2. Poor Duncan, 400 years old and he finally found a woman who would accept him for what he was, wouldn't complain too much about the occasional swordfight (and beheading of the enemy), and was generally up for anything. And then she gets shot by a thief looking for his next dime bag. He cradles her in his arms, while that song plays pretty much in its entirety. Tears, man, tears. Even a decade later.

    I should note that I'm a BIG Doors fan and have "American Prayer" on the ol' iPod. Not that the Doors are good anthem music--too cerebral and even spiritual for that--but they rock, fully.

    Worst anthem nominations:

    -- Foreigner, Cold as Ice

    -- Pink Floyd, Money (or anything else by them, really

    -- Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

    Best anthem nominations:

    -- Cream, Tales of Brave Ulysses

    -- Yardbirds, Train Kept A'Rollin'

    -- Derek & Dominos, Layla

    -- Jetro Tull, Aqualung or else Locomotive Breath

    Skahh -- 80's dance style, for ultra-cool hipsters

  18. I think I can shoot Zombies while Jamming to "Sympathy for the Devil"-- Stones

    Anybody who shows up with ABBA on their IPod ought to be used for sighting-in.

  19. Bestest, well, I've had long standing love for Bad Company's Bad Company. Although for killing zombies, doing it to AC/DC "Thunder" (not the new one) would do me well.

    Worst, well, bring anything from Flock of Seagulls to the shelter with you and I'll empty the clip.

    waxess - what keeps Greek women looking so fine.

  20. BOC, pretty much made for killing zombies. Good, good.

    Japanese girl playing Kansas on the electric organ may induce the zombies to kill themselves. Acceptable.

    Mark, I'm warning you right up front, Journey, any Journey of any kind, and I will cut your head open myself and offer up your brain tissue to the zombies personally. I hate Journey, I hate them so much I don't think I can adequately describe how much I fucking hate Journey.

    Nick, you big sissy, there's no crying in the zombie shelter! Not even if the highlander's girlfriend gets it. No crying.

    Stuart, excellent suggestions, both ways, because if there is anything I detest more than stinking goddamned Journey it's ABBA.

    Steve, Bad Company. Excellent. And now I must go listen to Bad Company. Thank you.

  21. Pam, by all means. Zombie Eagles must die.

  22. I think I may be in love with electric organ Japanese girl

  23. Listening to WLAV-FM out of Grand Rapids on my long daily commute, I can finally hear the lyrics of songs that were always played down the hall. Exactly what the hell is going on in Hotel California?

    You want rollicking good long play driving music? Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Pirates.

    And after WLAV's morning madman Kevin Matthews made it the theme of his annual "prom" event, Come Sail Away is good road music.

    You'd think a good Navy man would know that zombies are no good on the high seas. Why ask for trouble when you just raise the mainsails and hie to the horizon? Free as a bird...

    Dr. Phil

    plaerilo - a pliable synthetic plastic filo dough

  24. Why ask for trouble when you just raise the mainsails and hie to the horizon?

    Two words: Zombie Mermaids.

  25. And while not really an anthem, if you want to be depressed, just pull out Janis Ian's Seventeen. With that playing, pulling a Thelma and Louise off the highway would be a high point in your day.

    Teenage Wasteland, forget the lyrics and just appreciate the music, man. And I really love Dead or Alive. It's a joy to hear the whole damn song sometimes, after they've been hacked down to TV show themes.

    Dr. Phil

    NOTE: If you haven't seen Freebird, the whole thing, done on Conan's last Tonight Show, go find it on YouTube. They sure had fun.

  26. Jim, that's why the watch gets to use all those cool belaying pins.

    Dr. Phil

  27. Teenage Wasteland?


    I hate that damned song. Not as much as I hate Journey or ABBA, but pretty damned close. Most overrated Rock Anthem ever.

  28. How could I have forgotten Bachman Turner Overdrive? Taking Care of Business would be a freaking great zombie-killing anthem.

    BTO was my first ever rock concert. They had some punk-ass band as the opening act; nobody wanted to hear 'em and we booed loudly. Although thinking back on it, that band probably did okay in the long run. Also a pretty good name for a zombie-killing band: The Silver Bullet Band along with some guy named Bob.

    quitio = Phil Collin's last song before he retired from pop music. Great chorus that went something like quit, quit, quitio

  29. Also my wife says GnR's Welcome to the Jungle needs to be nominated for best anthem. Remember Jim Carey lip-synching to that song in the last Dirty Harry movie? Classic.

  30. Worst: Sweet Home Alabama

    Nothing (personal) against LS, but that song was (for me) great for fifteen minutes in high school before I listened to the words. Then not even ripping off Werewolves of London (fun for karaoke. I dunno about zombies, though) could make me listen to it willingly ever again.

    Best: Queen, Gimme the Prize. Just strictly based on zombie-killing potential. That's basically what the song is about anyway. Right?

    I could totally kill zombies to Pink Floyd's Money. Great rhythm there.

    There's really only one fair way to solve this question (and it is an important one). Load up a playlist of candidates and blast some zombies. If your Home Depot is all out of real ones, I suggest playing either Left 4 Dead 2 or Nation Red, both available for your PC-playing goodness.

  31. Jim,

    A post like this makes me get out my treasured D.R.E.A.D. card and remember the good 'ol days! They were the end of disco and that awful, awful decade. Perhaps you could even catch WRIF on your radio in Western MI?

    As for great rock anthems, Boston was it. Although Seger occasionally let a good one or two get through.

    Do you think your rock anthems will save you from the zombies led by Celine Dion and Brittany Spears?


    (PS - that is not my site, but I still have my card! The Intertubz are an awesome, amazing invention!)

  32. SP, that is so awesome.

    Never got WRIF where I lived, we used to listen to WLAV mostly - and I understand from Dr. Phil that WLAV is still going strong (though I imagine Tony and Lauri are long since gone, sigh).

    Taking Care Business, yes, good. Sweet Home Alabama, yeah, that gets you put out with the infected.

    Seriously, Nick, you booed Bob Seger? Bad Nick, bad.

  33. Tony Gates? Yeah, he's still at WLAV. Is huge in the community, and is seriously into bringing kids out in the wild and learn about hunting and fishing. Kevin Matthews went from GVSU to WLAV, then on to Chicago and The Loop WLUP, came back to Grand Rapids a couple of years ago and is still teamed up with Uncle Buck, i.e. Ed Buchanon. In other words, when they say they play Classic Rock and have from the start, they actually mean it. (grin)

    And every spring Kevin hosts a "prom" at the Holiday Inn, for all those who missed prom the first time. It's bad tuxes, bad prom dresses, lots and lots of loud music til all hours and spiked punch. (grin)

    Dr. Phil

  34. Couldn't resist this captcha:

    beadysin -- Bad behavior by beady-eyed politicians.

  35. I haven't been able to take "Stairway to Heaven" seriously since I heard a guy sing the lyrics to the Gilligan's Island theme to that tune. It fit perfectly. Try it sometime, preferably after a long night of whiskey.

    Best anthem - Back in Black. I don't know if it qualifies as anthem to anyone else, but I consider it one.

    Worst - almost anything by Journey, and I speak as someone who owned more than my share of their albums.

    katio - (n) the sunny area by my door where the feline rests

  36. "Seriously, Nick, you booed Bob Seger? Bad Nick, bad."

    In my defense, I was in 7th grade at the time, Jim.

    forse = award-winning equine choreographer of many Broadway hits.

  37. From a new fan, best: Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and We Will Rock You. Also, John Mellencamp's Authority Song.

    Have to think more about the worst, there are so many.

  38. Bohemian Rhapsody, yes, I could shoot zombies to that. We are the Champions? No. If I never hear that song again I'll be happy, it's not that it's terrible, it's that it has been so damned overplayed.

  39. In view of the lovely Chinese pairs skating last night, to a violin version, I think that Queen's You Want to Live Forever (Highlander) could be some good slow motion get-some zombie killing music.


    Dr. Phil

  40. How about "Pour some sugar on me", while blasting zombies?

    entif = financialy secure Mastiff

  41. Konstantin, get out of my high school memories.

    And I'm sorely disappointed in the lot of you. How can there be no Iron Maiden on this list? Or Megadeth? I mean, how is their cover of "These Books Are Made for Walking" not perfect for killing zombies?

    Also, Testament should be on that list, as should Suicidal Tendencies.

  42. Hey if this posted twice then apologies - had a interwebby hiccup

    Zombies, Music - You got to have Don't Stop Me Now from Queen - as an example of rhythmic zombie killing watch this clip from 3:20

    And watch the whole movie for even more zombie killing ideas.

    Disclaimer - Lurker but never posted

  43. Oh man...*shaking head*

    Worst: Toto ~ Africa. (The recurring nightmares stopped happening sometime in the mid-90's, but I seriously hope the masters of that song were consumed in flames, at some point)

    Soundtrack: C'mon. Pink Floyd ~ Run Like Hell (I mean, if we're talking about blasting zombies in blaze of lead here):
    'Cause if the catch you in the back seat trying to pick her locks,
    They're gonna send you back to mother in a cardboard box,
    You better run.

    Punctuated by the staccato tinkle of spent brass on concrete? Oh yeah, that's a party.

    Hey, watch your field of fire, okay? you almost spilled my beer. :)

  44. Voice from the future- new reader catching up on old posts. So I suppose no one will ever see this.

    While I like "Stairway", I do not see it as appropriate zombie-poppin' music. For that, you need to go to Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks"!

    Quintessential rock'n'roll anthem? Why Joan Jett's "I Love Rock'n'Roll" of course! It is simple, with a driving beat & must be played LOUD. Lyrically it is also simple, narcissistic, high school-oriented and rebellious - everything rock'n'roll was meant to be!
    Besides, if a zombie or two ever did make it into the bunker and managed to be "standing by the record machine" - why the irony would be just too, too sweet.

    Personally, I think Cat Stevens is just not suited to zombie killing in any way, though many would not classify his work as rock.


  45. BEST: Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' And Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing' You can't tell me that, at least once in your life, you didn't crank up the volume and sing along with, "Somewhere in the NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!"

    I know I'm way behind, I was giggling my way through your old music posts. I had never seen that Rick Springfield video, so thank you for that one. I just shared it to my hubby, who will probably cringe. And then sing along. :D

  46. Although, now that I think about it, for straight zombie-shooting madness, I'd probably have to go with AC/DC's 'Shook Me All Night Long' as well.

    The Bee Gee's 'Stayin Alive' might also be apropos, in a totally different way.

    WORST: Queen's 'Flash' (a terrible song made for a terrible movie) or anything by Pink Floyd. Especially 'Money' and 'Another Brick In The Wall.'


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