Rolling Stone hits the big 4-0

The list-loving music magazine picks the 40 songs "that changed the world" as part of its 40th-birthday celebration.

Published April 23, 2007 6:10PM (EDT)

Two things Rolling Stone magazine has always been good at: celebrating itself and compiling lists. Proof of both can be found in a special 40th-anniversary commemorative issue, which hit newsstands on Friday. The magazine is releasing a DVD collection of its back issues, allowing us to relive the glory days of Lester Bangs and Hunter S. Thompson and revisit the less glorious recent years. It's also posting interview clips from "artists and leaders who have shaped our time," like Bob Dylan and Norman Mailer, on its Web site.

Also in honor of the big 4-0, the editors' have published their list of 40 songs that changed the world. In the past, Rolling Stone's lists (and there have been a lot of them: the 500 greatest albums, the 100 greatest guitarists, the 100 best songs, the 50 moments that changed rock, etc.) have too often seemed to reflect the tastes of a particular set of listeners (i.e., white male baby boomers) to be considered truly comprehensive, but this list, topped off by Elvis Presley's "That's Alright," looks pretty good. Aside from a couple of iffy inclusions (Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time," really?), the editors did a good job of recognizing the songs that either introduced new subject matter to popular music ("Heroin" by the Velvet Underground), expanded rock's formal language (The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever") or heralded a cultural sea change (Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit").

But I still have some quibbles. The list overlooks some of the folks who helped lay the groundwork for modern rock and pop (Louis Jordan, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie), and also skimps on some seminal moments in rap. I'm curious to know what you think. Take a look at the list and let me know what songs you think are missing or which ones deserve to be taken off. To get you started, here's my top five songs that are missing from Rolling Stone's list:

1. "Cross Road Blues," Robert Johnson

2. "This Land Is Your Land," Woody Guthrie

3. "Paranoid," Black Sabbath

4. "More Than a Feeling," Boston

5. "Straight Outta Compton," N.W.A.

-- David Marchese

By Salon Staff

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