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What is there to say about the Rolling Stones that hasn’t already been said. They are simply the greatest rock and roll band of all-time. With an astounding 50 years of making music, the Stones have released Grrr!, a compilation album featuring two new Rolling Stones songs, as well as different editions offering 40, 50, and 80 tracks of the best Rolling Stones songs out there. And they’re still touring! As impressive a career that the Rolling Stones have had, I felt it was necessary to take on the impossible task of picking the band’s Top 10 songs in honor of the band’s incredible feat of 50 years and counting.
Open to criticism, and I’m sure plenty of debate, here are my top 10 Rolling Stone songs:
10.) “Dead Flowers” Sticky Fingers (1971)
Dead Flowers arrived at a time when The Rolling Stones had a notable country influence in a song here and there. In my opinion, I think this album has some of the Rolling Stones' top songs. With darker lyrics, and simple guitar, this song has become one of my personal favorites.
9.) “Sweet Virginia” Exile on Main St. (1972)
Nothing complicated, and not a song that gets much airplay, I love “Sweet Virginia.” A mellow song with a female chorus, the song has a country/blues vibe, but there's something about this track that sticks with you, making it one of the better Rolling Stones songs available.
8.) “Wild Horses” Sticky Fingers (1971)
Possibly a ballad about Mick Jagger's ex, or having to be on the road many miles from where you really want to be, or really whatever the meaning behind the lyrics are, “Wild Horses” is one of the Rolling Stones' more beautiful songs. Slowing down the pace of the usual hits, “Wild Horses” could still stir emotions in anyone today, and deserves a spot in the top 10.
7.) “Can’t Always Get What You Want” Let It Bleed (1969)
This song steps it up for the Stones. Featuring much more instrumentals than the usual Rolling Stones track, it has grown to become one of the Rolling Stones' most popular songs. The lyrics are very relatable because “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
6.) “Angie” Goats Head Soup (1973)
While Goats Head Soup has fallen short in comparison to some of the top notch Rolling Stones albums, “Angie” is certainly a bright spot. At a time when drugs would play a role in the members of the Stones' lives, and while the story behind the song is debatable, you have to appreciate this tender ballad.
5.) “Jumpin Jack Flash”
Released as a single in 1968 after Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Rolling Stones found their blues roots with this powerful, fast-paced track about Keith Richards' gardener. Easily one of the best Rolling Stones songs around.
4.) “Tumbling Dice” Exile on Main St. (1972)
“Tumbling Dice” may be my personal favorite Rolling Stones track, but for fair consideration and respect for the next three tracks, this falls to 4 on the list. About a womanizing gambling man, this blues boogie tune is simply fun to listen to and groove along with.
3.) “Paint It, Black” Aftermath (1966)
Adding a new sound to the Rolling Stones, “Paint It, Black” features a sitar, and is the song that got me into the band. This fast-paced single is one of the staples in the Rolling Stones' discography, and although the lyrics are about being about a girl’s funeral, the track is a great listen.
2.) “Sympathy For The Devil” Beggars Banquet (1968)
As one of the Rolling Stones' top songs and rock and roll's top songs all together, “Sympathy For The Devil” comes in at number two. This phenomenal song of Jagger's singing in first-person as the devil, along with excellent instrumentals, has garnered the song plenty of commercial success. There’s not much you can do but appreciate a song such as this.
1.) “Gimme Shelter” Let It Bleed (1969)
Did you really expect anything else? Coming out right around a very violent era pertaining to The Vietnam War, “Gimme Shelter” encompasses the mood of the time all in this one track. It’s an end-of-the-world song that has taken over classic rock radio stations, and other commercial use, and has become the most popular Rolling Stones track in the catalog. It has everything great in a song, powerful lyrics, awesome instrumentals, and probably some of the best back-up vocals that you’ll find. Some may see the song as played out, but I don’t think that’s possible.
Keep in mind, there are clearly plenty of songs that deserve to make the cut too, but I’d sit be sitting here for days losing my mind even more-so I had to round off these phenomenal tunes. If you disagree, I’d probably agree with you that your song probably should have made the cut too. All in all, we all just must appreciate the immense amount of amazing music that the Rolling Stones have graced us with, and respect the amazing feat of 50 years and counting that they have accomplished.