About two years ago, I wrote a column on the subject of the greatest song in the world. Using a proven scientific technique that included (1) asking people that I knew what the greatest song ever written was, and (2) writing down what they said, I compiled the results. Here are the results from that first study (which I’ve posted to The Signpost online A&E page as “The Greatest Song Ever, Part 1”):
- 1 percent – “Hey Jude,” by The Beatles.
- 1 percent – “Bohemian Rhapsody,” by Queen.
- 1 percent – “Some Classical Piece That Makes Me Sound Cultured,” by someone German.
- 5 percent – “Sappy, Emotionally Manipulative Country Song” by Dwayne McRugged, or whatever.
- 92 percent – Some Funny Answer like “MMMBop,” or anything by Madonna.
Naturally, I was disappointed. Mainly by my friends’ assumption that, because I’m a humor columnist, I only want funny answers (if you prick me, do I not bleed?), but also because this is a very, very serious question. What is the greatest song ever written?
Since I am a glutton for punishment (and bad jokes about Miley Cyrus), I tried the experiment again, this time using social media, texting and other methods, and after sorting through the replies, here are some trends that I noticed:
Most people love The Beatles. Say what you want about Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones or anyone else; nobody else matched the Fab Four for amount of songs mentioned. People mentioned “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “Blackbird,” “Hey Jude” and “That One Where They Go ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’.” John Lennon was mentioned several times for “Imagine,” but Ringo’s “Octopus’s Garden” was, tragically, omitted from the list.
Most people love classic rock anthems. Insert your favorite power ballad or inspiration guitar riff here. “Stairway to Heaven,” “Come Sail Away” and “Don’t Stop Believin’” topped the list. U2 was mentioned for their song “That One That Sounds Like Everything Else We’ve Written” (I’m going to catch some flak for that one).
Some people really love emotional country songs. I got “Amazed” by Lonestar, “Then” by Brad Paisley, “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts, “Jesus, Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood, “Buddha, You Seem Like a Nice Guy” by Faith Hill and “Zeus, Don’t Impregnate My Daughter” by Dwayne McRugged.
Some people don’t know that Glee doesn’t write their own music. We at the Greatest Song Ever Committee do not recognize mashups as being eligible for contention.
Some people get offended when you think they mentioned “Love Story,” by Taylor Swift, as a joke. Also, anything by Jack Johnson. Once again, I’m sorry for laughing.
Most people have a hard time differentiating between the greatest song ever written and the song they like the most. This is where I got a lot of answers that made the least amount of sense. Everybody has that one music group they are intensely passionate about, and when you ask them “Who is Death Cab for Cutie?” they look at you like you just clubbed a baby seal.
I mean, c’mon. There’s a difference between a song that has struck you on a deep and personal level, maybe a song like “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor, or “Change the World” by Eric Clapton, and a song that every person on Earth knows, like the Stones’ “Satisfaction” or Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” And most everybody’s answers were songs written in the last 20-30 years. What about the classic classics, like “Amazing Grace,” “Danny Boy” or “(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow”?
My vote for the greatest song ever written? “Louie, Louie,” by The Kingsmen. It’s catchy, it makes you want to dance, and everybody (including well-trained border collies) can play it on the guitar. Also, the lyrics are indiscernible, which makes it even more fun.