50. ‘Gimme Shelter’ — The Rolling Stones
For a song that Keith Richards wrote in 20 minutes, “Gimme Shelter” made a big impression. The opening track to the 1969 Rolling Stones album “Let It Bleed,” it was never released as a single but has been included in many compilation records and has been a staple of the band’s live gigs. During their 50th anniversary tour in 2012, the Rolling Stones sang this song with Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige and Florence Welch.
49. ‘One’ — U2
The third track on U2’s 1991 album “Achtung Baby,” “One” was actually a spin-off from their second single “Mysterious Ways.” According to Rolling Stone, the Edge suggested two ideas for the bridge and Bono liked one of them so much, he wrote a whole new set of lyrics. “One” may be a wedding favorite, but that wasn’t what the band had in mind.
“People have told me they play it at their wedding,” the Edge said. “And I think, ‘Have you listened to the lyrics? It’s not that kind of a song.'”
48. ‘No Woman, No Cry’ — Bob Marley
The best-known version of “No Woman, No Cry” isn’t the original version (on the 1974 studio album “Natty Dread”); it’s the version on the following year’s “Live!” — recorded at the Lyceum Theatre in London on July 17, 1975, as part of Marley’s Natty Dread Tour.
This song didn’t just change Marley’s life; he gave a songwriting credit to his childhood friend Vincent “Tata” Ford, which helped Ford keep his Kingston soup kitchen afloat.
47. ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ — The Righteous Brothers
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” was first recorded by The Righteous Brothers in 1964 and reached the top of the charts in both the U.S. and the U.K. It was also the fifth-bestselling song in the U.S. in 1965. The song has been covered by a number of other artists, including Dionne Warwick and Hall and Oates, but no version has the impact of Bill Medley’s deep vocal, without instruments, in the intro: “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips.”
46. ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ — The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are no strangers to controversy when it comes to their music, and their 1968 release “Sympathy for the Devil,” from the album “Beggars Banquet,” was no different. The song caused a stir among some religious groups, who feared that the Stones were devil-worshippers. However, in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone, Mick Jagger said the song was an idea he got from French writing.
“I just took a couple of lines and expanded on it,” he said. “I wrote it as sort of like a Bob Dylan song.”
45. ‘I Walk The Line’ — Johnny Cash
While he was stationed in Germany with the Air Force, Johnny Cash started working on “I Walk the Line.” It was many years later, in 1956, when he decided to record it, but realized that the original tape was damaged. However, this ended up being a bonus; he embraced the unique sound and added even more interest by wrapping a piece of wax paper around the strings of his guitar. And it gave him his first No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
“It was different than anything else you had ever heard,” Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone. “A voice from the middle of the Earth.”
44. ‘River Deep – Mountain High’ — Ike and Tina Turner
Producer Phil Spector considers Ike and Tina Turner’s 1966 release of “River Deep – Mountain High” to be his best work, and plenty of people agree. It ranks at No. 33 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. For Tina Turner, putting the song together was a memorable experience — Spector made her sing it over and over for several hours until he got the “perfect” vocal.
“I must have sung that 500,000 times,” Turner told Rolling Stone. “I was drenched with sweat. I had to take my shirt off and stand there in my bra to sing.”
43. ‘Help!’ — The Beatles
In a 1980 interview with Playboy, John Lennon said the song “Help!” — released as a single in July 1965, at the height of Beatlemania — had hidden depths that even he wasn’t aware of when he wrote it.
“Most people think it’s just a fast rock ‘n’ roll song,” he said. “Subconsciously, I was crying out for help. I didn’t realize it at the time; I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie.” He later told Rolling Stone he didn’t like the recording: “We did it too fast, to try and be commercial.”