The Top 25 Best Songs of All Time

By Bruce Kisliuk
July 3, 2016

Abstract music background headphones and glowing waves, musical notes.Gene recently invited me to prepare my top 25 songs of all time for publication. The premise is simple. Turn on the radio this weekend and many, if not most, radio stations will be counting down the top songs of all time in their particular genre. Music is an important element in many of our lives, and although we “patent people” don’t always make the connection, copyrights are a critically important intellectual property right for so many creators, particularly musicians.

When Gene interviewed me in November 2015 we did talk about music and he tells me I’ve given him a hard time about his own top 25 songs since, which he published during the 4th of July weekend 2015. I don’t remember giving him a hard time, and if I did, well, I apologize. Although looking at his list I probably should have!

In any event, I’m pleased to participate in what I understand will become a yearly endeavor with different IP professionals asked to provide their own top 25 each 4th of July weekend. Before I delve into my list let me provide a little background.

I don’t have a song list on my iPhone anymore.  I now mostly listen to SiriusXM &Pandora – I like the variety and the surprise of not knowing what’s coming next.  I also started listening to vinyl again, dug out my 35-year-old turntable a few years ago and revived what remained of my old record collection.  I have been buying some vintage albums lately too, last one was Led Zeppelin I (although I don’t think their first one was actually numbered).

While rock clearly dominates my favorites, I can go into spells of listening to bluegrass and Motown (thank you, SiriusXM & Pandora). It was hard for me to pick my favorite songs, however, had a lot of fun trying. I tend to view music in terms of artists, albums, and eras.  In other words, “favorite” is a fleeting label.  But these are the songs I always like to hear,  typically a favorite from an artist or album that I enjoy, and a reminder of a time in my life.  And I’m listing them in age/era order (oldest to newest), not a ranking. I just couldn’t bring myself to actually rank these songs.

 

1 – Crosby, Stills, Nash – Helplessly Hoping – particularly great harmony on this song, the Crosby, Stills & Nash and Déjà Vu albums were classics.

2 – Led Zeppelin – Ramble On – less played than Stairway to Heaven, but distinctive early Zeppelin which I prefer to later Zeppelin.

3 – Sly & the Family Stone – Dance to the Music – Much (or all) of my early exposure to music was from my older brother.  This 8-track (clearly dating myself!) was a regular, and Sly an unforgotten classic.

4 – Allman Brothers – Statesboro Blues – One of my all-time favorite bands, seeing them live at the Beacon Theater in NYC is one of my top live music events.

5 – Jonathon Edwards – Shanty – maybe a forgettable artist, but great harmonica and catchy lyrics on this one, another from my brother’s early collection.

6 – Bill Withers – Use Me – 1 of 3 bluesy/soulful songs of Withers, including Lean On Me and Ain’t No Sunshine, that were a staple on my old iPhone playlist.

7 – Neil Young – Old Man – saw him years ago at Constitution Hall – don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone play so many different instruments so effortlessly.

8 – Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man – Skynyrd was a main-stay of my high school years, really captures that early-to-mid 70’s southern rock era.

9, 10 – Eagles – Hotel California & Already Gone – Only group I picked more than one song, so consider that a reflection of my respect, and I could probably list a few more favorite Eagles songs. Glad I saw them not long ago at Madison Square Garden before Glenn’s passing.

11 – Little Feat/Lowell George – Two Trains – love the band’s syncopation, and Lowell’s solo version of this song is a keeper.  A (another) great vocalist that died way too young.

12 – The Who – Who Are You – Of the early British rockers, I prefer The Who over the Rolling Stones.

13 – The Marshall Tucker Band – Heard it in a Love Song – from that mid-70’s era when I was listening to a lot of country rock (Skynyrd, Outlaws, Charlie Daniels…).

14 – Van Morrison – On the Bright Side of the Road – Another artist with an incredible collection of great music, I like the up-tempo beat of this one.

15-  AC/DC – Highway to Hell – another one of my all-time favorite groups, distinctive and timeless rock.  Back in Black an all-time favorite album.

16 – Tom Petty – American Girl – Great song writer, prefer his early work (like Damn the Torpedoes), recently SiriusXM has been playing tunes from one of his early bands, MudCrutch, really good stuff.

 

[Pause…I kinda skipped the 80’s musically in terms of favorites.  Not sure if it was me or just what was coming out then.  I do like a lot of Michael Jackson, but I have a hard time squeezing any one song into my top 25]

 

17 – Van Halen – Right Now – Great intro in this tune, made me finally accept Sammy as David Lee’s replacement.

18 – Pearl Jam – Alive – Ten is one of my favorite albums, seeing them at Merriweather Post in Columbia, MD was memorable, although I almost lost my wife in a swirling mosh pit.

19 – Nirvana – Come as Your Are – Nevermind is great album, cover-to-cover. Can’t listen to any Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) music without thinking how amazing it was that he was their drummer.

20 – Sister Hazel – All for You – I don’t remember the band or any other songs, but this song gets stuck in my head a lot.

21 – Everclear – Santa Monica – Somewhat of an unheralded band, they used to dominate my iPhone playlist. Good story telling & lyrics.  Saw them at the 930 Club in DC very late in their career and they didn’t disappoint.

22 – Green Day – Basket Case  – Dookie was a great break-out album, and this trio put out a lot of great sound.  I never thought of it as punk, more like alternative rock.

23 – Counting Crows – Mr. Jones – Adam Duriitz is a great lyricist, although when seeing him live I would warn you – unless he’s playing the piano his creativity can lead him wayyy off the album version of any song.

24 – Weezer – Undone (The Sweater Song) – A fun band, this song is a singalong special.

25 – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – SOB – relatively new band, getting playing time on SiriusXM.  This is a catchy tune, can’t wait to see where they go next.

 

For my ‘honorable mentions’, I apologize to these great bands/artists I have enjoyed over the years for not being able to squeeze even one song into my top 25…Traffic (Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys), Bowie (Changes), Jackson Browne (The Pretender), Golden Earring (Radar Love), Boston (Smokin’), Talking Heads (Burning Down the House), Springsteen (Rosalita), Doors (Roadhouse Blues), Clapton/Cream (Crossroads), Foghat (Fool for the City), Collective Soul (Shine), and in tribute to my short-lived time in the south, Ricky Skaggs (Highway 40 Blues).

 

The Author

Bruce Kisliuk

Bruce Kisliuk is a senior patent counselor in the Washington, D.C., office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he is a member of the patents and innovation practice. A former senior executive at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Bruce has more than 30 years of intellectual property experience. Prior to joining Wilson Sonsini, Bruce was the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Administration from 2012 to 2015, where he served as the Patent Organization's chief financial officer and oversaw the formulation and execution of the organization's $1.7 billion budget. He also oversaw all aspects of the Patent Organization's information technology management, partnering with the chief information officer to develop patent examiner systems and examination tools. Bruce previously served as the Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations from 2008 to 2012, during which time he oversaw multiple Technology Centers—including Chemical Technology Centers 1600 and 1700, Electrical Technology Centers 2600 and 2800, and Mechanical Technology Centers 3600 and 3700—and was responsible for all aspects of their patent examining operations, practices, and procedures.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 9 Comments comments.

  1. Benny July 4, 2016 7:01 am

    There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between the favourite songs in the list and the most popular/profitable top 25 – no Beatles, Michael Jackson or Pink Floyd.
    I would assume that most attorneys belong to a more or less homogenic age-group and demographic cross section, which would influence the choice.
    My guess is that the one track which gets more air-play than any other on the radio stations which readers of this blog tune to must be Allman Brothers “Jessica”.

  2. Anon July 4, 2016 9:38 am

    Benny,

    I chuckle at your response for multiple reasons.

    First, this article appears to be an entirely subjective personal view of favorites (and not geared to a non-personal general populace or profit factor reasoning of inclusion).

    Second, your view of “most attorneys” belonging to a “more or less homogenic age-group and demographic cross section” is a rather odd and untenable assumption.

    I will grant that there is some narrowing of a demographic pool by constraining the population to a subset containing the intersection of both attorneys and those technically inclined, but there is NO tie to a single age specific realm or appreciation of such a non-technical item as musical tastes.

    The current USPTO practitioner record indicates a span of recently registered agents (likely down to an age of 22 or so) to the oldest registered person Registration number 14311 (likely in his 80’s). This span also includes all manner of different technical backgrounds from all manner of different states and even regions of the globe.

    Lastly, even as my own musical tastes are rather eclectic, the Allman Brothers “Jessica” would not make my top 100, let alone “gets more air-play than any other on the radio station which readers of this blog tune to” (which is itself a rather telling anachronism given the ability to self-select artists or genres outside of the traditional single-format commercial radio stations of yesteryear).

  3. Nick July 4, 2016 11:02 am

    Come on Bruce, no CCR or Otis Redding? I’m so disappointed.

  4. DaveR July 4, 2016 12:47 pm

    The inclusion of the descriptor “best” is ridiculous, unless limited to describing what is best in the opinion of an individual. What is the best beer, wine or whiskey, pizza, hamburger, restaurant, amusement par, movie, car, airplane, boat, or whatever? To arrive at any such list in any category, one must first select the criteria to be applied. And even that, too, can be subjective.

    Among the many attorneys I have worked, personalities and preferences have varied widely, as have their tastes in music. Age and personal background including friends and peers may have much to with their choices.

    But such a list of “best” songs might be a revelation into the personality and history of the individual.

  5. Gene Quinn July 4, 2016 1:21 pm

    Nick-

    That’s the only reason you are disappointed in Bruce’s list? As I was looking at the list I thought perhaps he misunderstood the assignment (friendly poke to Bruce)!

    -Gene

  6. Jeffrey Dixon July 5, 2016 12:25 pm

    Of The Who, “Who Are You” is a band-defining classic, but my choice would have been “Sally Simpson” from Tommy – great piano rocker. Can’t say I prefer them to the Stones.

    Of Counting Crows, my choice would have been “Anna Begins” from the same album, August and Everything After, the entirety of which is fantastic.

    Of AC/DC, I would have to choose Thunderstruck, being a fan of the Chicago White Sox. I have heard rumors we also have another baseball team in town, but don’t believe everything you hear.

    Of Dave Grohl / Foo Fighters, I would have inserted a period in the following sentence after “music”:

    “Can’t listen to any Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) music[.] without thinking how amazing it was that he was their drummer.”

    I don’t have a problem with the term “Best” being applied a subjective aesthetic evaluator, be it an individual or group/body of individuals. Personal preference is understood and doesn’t need to be explained or apologized for. However, I can’t commit to a 25 All Time Best list. My list would have been different last week and will be different next week.

    That said, here is a list of 25 of my favorite songs:

    1. Fare Thee Well Miss Carousel – Townes Van Zandt
    2. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
    3. Sixteen, Maybe Less – Iron & Wine w/ Calexico
    4. Bocca di Rosa – Fabrizio De Andrè
    5. Chelsea Hotel – Dan Bern
    6. Speed of the Sound of Loneliness – A3 (original song by John Prine)
    7. Run Chicken Run – The Felice Brothers
    8. Time Has Told Me – Nick Drake
    9. Jesus in New Orleans – Over the Rhine
    10. Vincent O’Brien – M. Ward
    11. Todo Cambia – Mercedes Sosa
    12. I Like the Things About Me That I Once Despised – Mavis Staples (song by Wayne Davis, included on A View from Another Place (1973) masterfully remade this decade by Mavis Staples on One True Vine (2013))
    13. Rapper’s Delight – Sugarhill Gang
    14. Water No Get Enemy – Fela Kuti
    15. I Wish – Stevie Wonder
    16. Sweet Amarillo – Old Crow Medicine Show (from an unfinished Dylan song)
    17. Waltz #2 – Elliott Smith
    18. While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles (I also enjoy the remix of this White Album track with a Jay Z Black Album track by DJ Danger Mouse on the unauthorized–but aptly titled–Grey Album)
    19. Llueve Sobre Mojado – Fito Páez and Joaquín Sabina
    20. L.A. Freeway – Guy Clark
    21. Directly from My Heart to You – Frank Zappa
    22. Harlem River Blues – Justin Townes Earle
    23. The City of New Orleans – Steve Goodman
    24. California Stars – Wilco (lyrics by Woody Guthrie)
    25. The Dutchman – Michael Peter Smith

  7. Gene Quinn July 5, 2016 12:46 pm

    Jeffrey-

    I think you are exactly right to say that a list you create this week would be different then a week you would create last week and next week. As it turns out getting 25 songs onto what is essentially our favorites list is a lot harder than it sounds if you take it seariously.

    Our lists don’t overlap much, other than Good Vibrations. I will say, however, that I’ve recently been reintroduced to Rapper’s Delight, which is definitely an all-time great song in my book.

    Cheers.

  8. mike July 8, 2016 1:34 pm

    Trouble is that if you required the songs to be ‘top selling’ you would have a bunch of songs nobody remembers because the Top 10 billboard charts are full of bubblegum one-hit wonders (like Brittney Spears).

    Your list doesn’t cross very many genres and looks like it came straight from K-tel’s Freedom Rock.

    A few other genres/decades would spice it up…
    R&B- Jackson 5 or Michael Jackson – ABC or PYT
    Country – either new Zak Brown’s Chicken Fried
    or old – Willie Nelson’s 7 Spanish Angels
    Rap has been mentioned after the fact…

    Some of the step changes like Elvis (I like Suspicious Minds, but his earlier songs really)

    A recent song that crosses genres/generations is IZ’s Wonderful World.

    I guess we all focus on our high school years when we talk about favorite music…

  9. Anon July 9, 2016 11:33 am

    I guess we all focus on our high school years when we talk about favorite music…

    Saw a scientific study (but unfortunately did not bookmark it) that showed that the ability to “appreciate music” had a physiological component in the human brain and that “best” subjectively normally becomes “locked in” by age 25.

    I have no reason to doubt the veracity of the study, as it is borne out with observations of repeated “generational effects” in music (and music lore, as in “do not trust anyone over 30,” better to burn out than fade away,” “my generation,” et cetera).

    One caveat to this age effect was that those exposed to a wide variety of genres prior to the physiological “lock in” showed a much greater ability to adapt to changes in music “styles” that naturally occur.