Las 30 mejores canciones de la historia del rock

Ante la perspectiva de elegir las 30 mejores canciones de la historia nos situamos de nuevo estamos ante la misma disyuntiva que al escoger los mejores discos de la historia del rock. ¿Ir a por la calidad, un aspecto habitualmente asociado a la subjetividad? ¿O estimar su importancia en la historia? ¿Valorar ante todo el intérprete? ¿O la composición? ¿Quizá su dificultad? ¿O todo junto? Realmente, qué más da. Lo importante es que son algunas de las mejores canciones de la historia, temas que todavía hoy causan placer y admiración. Felicidad al fin, que junto a esquivar la muerte debe la máxima aspiración del ser humano en vida.

Las mejores canciones de la historia del rock
Horas, días, meses o años de trabajo en un soporte con unos minutos de duración

Son canciones de los 60 y 70 en su mayoría, décadas que trajeron los mejores temas, canciones del recuerdo que, sin embargo, no suenan a nostalgia, a polvo, a óxido. Siguen siendo vibrantes.

Si alguien quiere extensión, puede consultar esta lista de canciones de Billboard. La del presente blog solo pretende refrescar memorias, pues son de sobra conocidas por cualquier amante de la buena música y de la cultura pop en general. Seguro que merece discusión su clasificación, pero quizá no tanto su inclusión. El ránking es lo de menos.

1. «Like a rolling stone» (Bob Dylan). Una de las mejores canciones de la historia, o la mejor

Suena un golpe de caja y comienza la sinfonía. Una pequeña y deliciosa intro da pie a la arrasadora voz de Bob Dylan. «Hubo un tiempo en el que vestías también…». Son seis minutos de maravilla, el momento exacto en el que el rock and roll alcanzó su plena madurez.

Columbia no deseaba publicar el single -preludio de su gigantesco álbum «Highway 61 Revisited» por su extensa duración, pero su majestuosidad se hizo irresistible. Alcanzó el segundo puesto en listas en 1965 y consagró a Dylan como gran referente del rock and roll contemporáneo.

Todo encaja como un guante. Desde la vitriólica voz del cantante hasta su corrosivo texto, conocida su capacidad como letrista y el uso del lenguaje. Desde el teclado de Al Kooper hasta la sensacional guitarra del nunca olvidado Mike Bloomfield. Todo, absolutamente todo apesta a grandeza. Dylan es conocido entre otras muchas cosas por sus letras, canciones llenas de sentido y reflexión que admiten múltiples escuchas e interpretaciones. Pero lo más importante es su música. He aquí la prueba. Una de las mejores canciones de la historia, probablemente la mejor.

2. «Sweet Jane» (Lou Reed). El valor del riff y una voz

No suele aparecer demasiado alto en los ránkings de mejores canciones de la historia. Sin embargo, lo tiene todo: un autor lleno de personalidad, un texto magnífico y un riff tan sencillo como impecable. Lou Reed fue uno de los mejores cantantes porque, a pesar de alejarse de los cánones tradicionales asociados a los grandes vocalistas, transmitía personalidad. Y arrebatadora.

La canción apareció en «Loaded«, disco de 1970 de la Velvet Underground. Aquella versión original sonaba casi pop. Mucho más interesante es la versión que aquí proponemos, correspondiente al «Rock and Roll Animal«, disco en directo de 1974. La tremenda intro corre a cargo del guitarrista estadounidense Steve Hunter y el enlace final con el riff principal es uno de los grandes momentos de la historia del rock and roll. El resto es pura chulería, a cargo del mejor Lou Reed: «Unos van a bailar y otros, como nosotros, tenemos que trabajar… Y la vida es solo para morir».

3. «A day in the life» (The Beatles). Mucho más que una canción de pop

Los Beatles eran unos genios. No solo componiendo, sino trabajando en estudio. «A day in the life» fue el cierre del «Sgt. Pepper» de 1967, uno de los mejores discos de la historia; y no, aquello no era solo pop. La canción pertenecía a John Lennon, pero fue Paul McCartney quien supo unir con maestría la letanía del autor con el puente instrumental. El final incluye un acorde rarísimo que supone uno de los cierres más espeluznantes de la historia de la música.

En su libro «Rockin’ down the highway», Paul Grushkin calificó la canción como «uno de los más ambiciosos, influyentes y revolucionarios trabajos» jamás realizados en la música popular. Porque lo cierto, y más allá de cualquier consideración, es que se convirtió en un paso adelante definitivo para el cuarteto de Liverpool. El salto a una nueva dimensión no solo de su estilo, sino de la música.

4. Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry). El comienzo de todo, también de las mejores canciones de la historia

Llegó un espigado y malencarado muchacho negro de Missouri para poner patas arriba la historia de la música. Fue el 31 de marzo de 1958 cuando Chuck Berry grabó una canción que sentaría las bases del nuevo rock and roll: el riff de guitarra más clásico que se pueda escuchar, un ritmo acelerado que avanza como un maremoto, una forma única de recitar y enormes toneladas de actitud.

Esto sería «Johnny B. Goode», la historia de un chico sureño que toca la guitarra con el objetivo de convertirse en estrella. Por otro lado, Chuck Berry crearía otro buen montón de excelentes canciones para el sello Chess -«Maybellene», «Too much monkey business», «Rock and roll music», «Around and around», «Carol»-, pero ninguna como la de Johnny.

5. «Lola» (The Kinks). Ray Davies y su facilidad de hacer canciones para el recuerdo

Dicen que Ray Davies estaba perezoso y su padre le picó para que intentara hacer una «canción comercial». Curiosamente, el sentido de la comercialidad de Ray estaba en escribir una historia sobre un muchacho que se enamora de alguien en una discoteca del Soho que resulta ser un travesti. Y que le tiene «de rodillas».

Publicada en junio de 1970, «Lola» se convirtió en una de las canciones populares más importantes no solo de los Kinks, sino de la historia del rock. Puede que fuera también también su mejor canción, o una de las mejores. Porque todo el genio de Ray Davies está aquí: ironía, un riff tremendo, una voz llena de insolencia, un puente magistral y una banda tocando como si fueran uno.

6. «The Weight» (The Band). La mejor canción de la mejor banda

Pocos dudan de que The Band esté entre las mejores bandas americanas de todos los tiempos. Más que canciones, hacían discos. Individualmente, eran genios; juntos, también. Durante años fueron el grupo de Bob Dylan y después se labraron un nombre por sí mismos gracias a grandes discos. Empezando por su debut, «Music from Big Pink», de 1968.

Ahí estaba «The Weight», todo un himno de la música americana. Robbie Robertson comienza con un precioso riff y después entra la banda al completo. Como una orquesta. Levon Helm canta como nadie, Rick Danko se sale con el bajo las armonías y, por encima de todo, queda una canción maestra que habla de amistad, viajes, perros, apocalipsis y buenas compañías. Una canción con mil versiones, leyenda de la historia del rock.

7. «Thunder Road» (Bruce Springsteen). Buena épica, buena música

Para 1975, Bruce Springsteen estaba en una encrucijada: ¿Seguir siendo un «nuevo Dylan» o adquirir una voz propia? Eligió lo segundo, y no sin osadía. «Sonar como Phil Spector con las letras de Dylan», contaría años después. Y lo más sensacional de todo: ¡lo logró! Springsteen haría carrera con sus letras y una buena selección de los mejores temas de todos los tiempos. El ejemplo: «Thunder Road».

Fue la apertura de su extraordinario «Born to run«, el álbum que le dio acceso al éxito masivo. Esa canción, que son varias en sí misma, lo tiene todo: un delicado inicio de piano y armónica, una romántica y evocadora historia, un «crescendo» perfectamente medido y un final abierto y demoledor. Como las grandes novelas americanas. Springsteen, el Springsteen de aquellos tiempos, lo hizo.

8. «Stairway to heaven» (Led Zeppelin). Una canción que es un museo de arte contemporáneo

Para el cuarto disco de la banda, Led Zeppelin ya era una institución del rock and roll. Había cogido el blues y el rock para crear una música profundamente original y dionisiaca. Y «Stairway to heaven» fue la culminación de toda una obra. Un tema que no solo debe estar muy arriba en cualquier lista de mejores canciones de la historia del rock, sino figurar como patrimonio de la humanidad.

Toda la música contemporánea está aquí: la instrumentación inicial de aromas folk, la guitarra acústica heredera de Bert Berns, la entrada de batería y electricidad, el tremendo solo de Jimmy Page, la cadencia «bluesy» de Robert Plant… Qué decir. Una canción infinita que debería durar ocho días.

9. «Shine on you crazy diamond» (Pink Floyd). Beethoven con guitarras y batería.

Fue una canción compuesta para ocupar una cara entera de un disco, pero les quedó hasta larga y la tuvieron que dividir entre dos caras. De tal forma que ocupa el inicio de la cara A del disco «Wish you were here» (1975) y el final de la cara B. Ocho partes para cerca de media hora no solo de buena música. Más bien, de arte. Un Beethoven con guitarras, batería, camiseta y zapatillas de deporte.

Fue el recuerdo de Pink Floyd a la mente enferma de Syd Barrett, pero también otra cumbre del rock and roll. David Gilmour es una divinidad en su intro de guitarra, Rick Wright llena la sala con sus teclados envolventes y Nick Mason y Roger Waters avanzan como un león con su sección de ritmo. Cada parte de la canción es un prodigio compositivo con una ejecución absolutamente maestra.

10. «Handle with care» (The Traveling Wilburys). Cinco leyendas, una obra maestra

Muchos «supergrupos» hay en la historia de la música, pero ninguno como los Traveling Wilburys, la insólita alianza de cinco genios como Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty y Jeff Lynne. Se unieron casi por casualidad y acabaron entregando un álbum para el recuerdo, titulado simplemente como «Volumen 1» (1988).

«Handle with care» resumió perfectamente todo lo que había en el disco: un concepto grupal, ningún ego, cinco voces con sitio y canciones realmente magníficas. Esta apertura del disco fue el germen de la banda en realidad, un boceto de Harrison al que todos le acabaron dando forma en el garaje de Dylan. Solo él y Lynne quedan vivos de un grupo que también fue maldito. Hicieron grandes canciones de los 60 dos décadas después.

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