Typically, writing a rock and roll song about rock and roll is a pretty lame move. It’s sort of like writing a poem about writing poetry. By virtue of the fact that we’re listening to a rock song we’ve pretty much established that we like rock already, so why the hard sell? I guess it is a nice break from songs about getting drunk or laid. Or both.
But like anything else, there are exceptions. Here are ten great rock tunes that extol the virtues of rock (just mentioning rock isn’t enough for this list). You can hear most of these (and more) on my Spotify playlist.
#10. “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II” by Kiss
Update an already excellent Argent tune, add some super-beefy Bob Ezrin production, throw in a sweet vocal harmony interlude, and what do you get? One of Kiss’s best latter-day songs, and one hell of a rock tune.
#9. “It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me” by Billy Joel
Almost as soon as rock and roll took off in America, it was clear that it was a game for the young. Billy Joel was barely in his 30s when he recorded this track, in which he defended his style of music against the up and comers of punk and new wave.
#8. “We Will Rock You” by Queen
It feels weird to hear this and not automatically move right into “We Are the Champions,” but even on its own this is a great rock song about rocking. STOMP STOMP CLAP indeed.
#7. “Rock of Ages” by Def Leppard
Long before its title was appropriated for that God-awful musical and movie, “Rock of Ages” was one of the ass-kickingest tunes from the summer of 1983. However, to this day I refuse to take part in the great Burning Out vs. Fading Away debate.
#6. “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” by Rick Derringer
Derringer wrote this for Johnny Winter, who thought it a little corny. And maybe it is. But there’s no denying the power of the song, at least Derringer’s solo version.
#5. “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60’s Rock)” by John Cougar Mellencamp
Inappropriate apostrophe usage aside, this loving look back at one of rock’s golden eras is one of the best cuts from one of Popdose’s favorite advice columnists.
#4. “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets
It may not be the best self-referential rock song ever, but it’s undoubtedly the most important. Nothing was the same after this one.
#3. “Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC
Few bands have held high the torch of rock over the last several decades like AC/DC has. And while I’m not 100% certain of “Let There Be Rock”‘s historical accuracy, it’s one hell of a sermon by the Rev. Bon Scott.
#2. “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” by AC/DC
They salute us for rocking? No, we fucking salute them.
#1. “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin
The mighty Led Zeppelin were never shy about showing their love of vintage American rock ‘n’ roll, and I can think of no better tribute than this song.