5 Most Overplayed Classic Rock Songs

Abraxas and Phantom Cosmonaut team up once again to bring the noise about one of the greatest afflictions in modern society: over-played classic rock.

Abraxas: Back when I was a kid in the Corn Belt of the Midwest there were 5 types of radio stations.  Country pop, old school country for Hank Williams fans, Classic Rock, and NPR.  What?  NPR is very popular in the Midwest.    Anyway, I’m not a Country fan, so I only had one station to listen to, and that was Classic Rock.

Cosmos: Yeah, man, I didn’t have to put up with that back in LA, but it wasn’t too much better than that.  I think we had 8 stations to choose from.    But they all played the same songs, just in different order.

Abraxas: Musically it was a dark time.  Back in the late 80’s, I remember hearing a DJ say, “and next we’ll play the new Joe Cocker song” and the damn thing was from his last album in the 70s!  A decade later is not new!   Classic Rock has a play list of about 12 songs, and it sucks.  Cosmos and I have teamed up to name the most over-played Classic Rock songs of all time.

Cosmos: Right!  And, with no further ado and in no particular order-

Tom Sawyer

Cosmos:  Okay, let me start by saying, I love Rush.   I really do. But this song – this song is literally played every 10 minutes on a Clear Channel near you.  It’s catchy no doubt about it, but what I doubt was Rush’s intention to have this played every 10 freakin’ minutes when they wrote it. The moment that Tom Sawyer comes blaring through your car speakers it’s enough to cause a multiple car pile-up on a highway that is only occupied by one car. And I am sure Geddy Lee is probably sick of it by now as well.

Abraxas: Back in the day when I lived in the Corn Belt, Rush came to town for a tour.  The classic rock- and at the time the ONLY rock station in the area- put Rush on the super double-heavy rotation.  Meaning, every 4th song was a Rush song. No joke.  To this day, hearing Tom Sawyer makes me want to stab my ears. Just thinking about it makes me want to vomit.  I am so tired of this song, it is sickening.   In fact, I’m going to go vomit right now.

Smoke on the Water

Cosmos: Everyone who has ever learned to play guitar has learned the main riff, and what a fine riff it is, easily played on the Low E string. This song has been played so beyond death that Smoke on the Water is now a 1,000 year-old Vampire sucking the life from classic rock radio listeners the entire world over.  If you tune your dial to the nearest FM station I guarantee it will be on in the next 5 minutes.  Have garlic, a cross, and a wooden stake on hand if you do.

Abraxas: If I  had to choose between listening to this song again or talking to someone about my long distance phone bill, I’ll take the phone bill.    I don’t doubt that this song has driven people to madness, mayhem, and murder.    I don’t
know how to play the guitar, and even I can play this song on the guitar.  That’s how many times I’ve had to hear this damn thing.  Enough already!

American Pie

Cosmos: My, oh my, where to begin with this one?  Every frat house this side of the Mississippi has played this one to death while hazing unsuspecting freshmen. The refrain- the part where the songs sort of starts to rock- has no doubt caused many pool hall riots. Poor Don McLean wrote this song about the tragic airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper back in ‘59.  I am sure he didn’t expect American Pie to be ruined by Madonna, and become an anthem for date rapists at Universities abroad.

Abraxas:  You know what annoys me about this song?  I mean, aside from the near constant airplay it gets.  It’s the whole snotty attitude the song it has.  No, seriously, it pisses me off.  McLean has said repeatedly in interviews that the lyrics of the song are beyond analysis and are poetry.  Bullshit!  Poetry is open to analysis by its very nature, and let me assure you American Pie is not poetry.  It’s a freaking song about 3 guys who died, jackass!  Sure those 3 guys were meaningful at the birth of rock, but to say that the whole genre died with them is ridiculous!   Big Bopper?  A one hit wonder who sang about a 16 year old girl.  Valens?   Yes, he was hugely influential in bringing the Latin music scene mainstream but his death changed rock for the worse?    Hardly.  Holly?   Holly was the most influential of the three men, and not just for his performance at the Apollo but because he set the template of singer/song writer/musician. His band, the Crickets, set the mold for what a rock band was in terms of instruments and style.  To claim that Rock died that day is pretentious and a massive overstatement.   The scope of rock music at the time was limited to boy loves girl themes, and all three were writing and performing songs like that.  And to say that rock never grew past that level is patently false.  Led Zeppelin cites Valens as a major influence and the Beatles claim Holly model for their own band.   Zep and the Beatles are two bands that clearly took rock past the boy/girl love story format.    As a side note, nobody claims the Big Bopper as an influence.    Not only is your one song over-played, McLean, you’re wrong.   Now, someone take that thing off the air!

Stairway to Heaven  

Cosmos:  Oh man, this one is a 100 year-old hooker looking for another John; she just won’t quit the pursuit, even though she is well past her prime. Stairway is great example of painting shades of light and darkness with the vocals using soft and loud dynamics. This very well might be Rock’s greatest power ballad. Like Rush, I love Led Zeppelin but come on!  They have a million other songs that are 9 times better.  And if you play this record backwards, you won’t hear “Praise Satan!” what you’ll actually hear is, “Record station, Record Station, please play once every 5 minutes for the next 100 yrs.” Nuff said!

Abraxas: Did you know, as of the year 2000 “Stairway to Heaven” had been played approximately 2,874,000 times? I am not joking about that.  Played back to back it would take 45 years to complete that number of plays, and the song isn’t even that old yet! It was the single most requested song of the 1970s!  For all our sakes, stop playing the song now!    I haven’t heard this song in years, and the thought of it makes me want to drive to Illinois to swerve into a corn field just to get away from it.  Ugh!    And, to the Program Managers out there- just because your parents conceived you in the back seat of your Grandpa’s Buick to this song doesn’t mean you have to keep playing it.  Stop.  Now.

Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2

Cosmos: Teachers leave those kids alone is the refrain.  Can we get it changed to “Radio, please leave this song alone?”    Supposedly it’s about building up a wall around the outside world; well this song tore down the wall and bashed our brains out with the bricks well before the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. This gem came out in ‘79 so Floyd (ahem, Roger Waters) must have thought it would be a great idea to write a disco song about ruthless headmasters in English schools, and torture us for the rest of the next millennium or two.  It’s only worse than Money by about a dog’s breath.

Abraxas: This song needs to be bricked into an oubliette and forgotten.  Pudding, meat, and all.  The whole album gets too much play, and this song is the worst offender.  We get it, Roger.  You were a sensitive child that was crushed under the oppressive regime of the English school system, and you feel isolated from the fans up there on stage.  But it seems to have worked out for you, ya rich wanker.  Now, homeschoolers, go Google oubliette to get the joke in the first sentence.

Cosmos: I will close by saying this; these are all great songs that have overplayed decades after their relevance on FM radio.   I am not criticizing the songs (well sort of), but I am criticizing FM radios lack of creativity when it comes to the decisions the radio stations make when it comes to their playlists.

Abraxas: These songs were great once.  Long ago.  But near endless repetition has run their meaning into a trite shadow of what they once were.   Sure some of them weren’t much more than pop songs with kick-ass guitar solos, but there was still something relevant to them. Something that struck a cord with people.   And now that meaning and connection has been turned into watered-down sanctimonious crap.

Don’t agree with the list?  Got some over-played rock songs you’d like to add?  Put’em in the comments below!

jimmy johnstone

sweet home fucking alabama.

time to drop that shit off the edge of the earth.

Posted June 26, 2010 03:06 am

Good one!

Posted June 27, 2010 10:06 pm
lady lascivious

I applaud your use of the word oubliette! And your selections. Personally, I could go without hearing “Down on the Corner” or “Hotel California” ever again for the rest of my life, thank you. And don’t even bring up “Margaritaville”…

Posted June 28, 2010 07:06 pm

3 more good ones to never hear again on the list!

Posted June 29, 2010 04:06 am

Margaritaville, man! Almost as bad as ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise. Actually they are both dreadful. Blew out my flip-flop on my front door step? Really? Who writes that kind of nonsense, oh Jimmy Buffet does, geez!

Posted July 02, 2010 03:07 pm

Can’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. Don’t even get me started.

Posted July 22, 2010 05:07 am

It’s Don’t Stop Believin’ but I agree.

Posted July 22, 2010 05:07 am

Don’t Stop Believin’ has been forever woven in history as the sound of small town girls livin’ in their lonely worlds, that will never stop.

Posted July 29, 2010 01:07 pm
Magnificent Bastard

It goes on, and on, and on, and on…

Posted July 29, 2010 11:07 pm
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