Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The most rockin' song of all time

I'm going way out on a limb here, and I'm probably just asking for trouble, but I think I've found the most rockin' song of all time. Not the best, not my favorite, not the most essential and not the most influential. I'm talking the most rockin' ever. And I'm positive that if you give this song an honest listen, without prejudice or cynicism, you will see I'm right. At the very least you will agree the song is indeed quite rockin' and deserving of a "most rockin' song ever" nomination. Before we get to the song, let's establish what exactly makes a song rockin'. As I see it there are five requirements for a truly rockin' song.

1. It came out between 1955 and 1980

Songs post-1980 are fully capable of rocking–or, if you are a music writer circa 2002, rawking–but they cannot be rockin'. Punk deconstructed the concept of rockin' and forever made it unfashionable, even embarrassing. And metal finished the job by redefining how a rock band is supposed to sound. (While Scorpions talk about rocking you like a hurricane in "Rock You Like A Hurricane", Chuck Berry talked about a rockin' band blowin' like a hurricane in "Rock 'n' Roll Music." Big difference there.) Because rockin' requires an utter lack of self-consciousness, and attempts at rockin' in the past 25-plus years are inherently self-conscious and old fashioned, true rockin' music died around the time Ronald Reagan was elected. So while "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen barely makes the rockin' cut-off because it came out in '80, The Stray Cats' similarly '50s-influenced "Rock This Town" fails to be rockin' (even with the word "rock" in the title) because it came out in '82. This isn't a value judgment–I'm not saying pre-1980 songs are better–just that rockin' is an antiquated practice, like saying the word "groovy" without irony.

2. It has to be bluesy, but not too bluesy

Rockin' music gets its mojo from the blues, but the blues isn't truly rockin' unless it's subverted in some way. This could mean playing it too loud, too fast, too sloppy, too stupidly, or too happy. Jimi Hendrix could play traditional blues like a mofo, but "Red House" isn't nearly as rockin' as "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" or "Crosstown Traffic". It also helps if you have no right to play the blues. The Rolling Stones were a bunch of white, middle-class Brits with a silly-looking economics student for a singer, and yet their failed attempts to sound like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters and Otis Redding resulted in some of the most rockin' songs ever.

3. It can't be a classic rock radio staple

You should be able to hear a rockin' song at least three times in a row without getting sick of it, but the endless repetition of classic rock radio can't help but take the luster off a rockin' song. Classic rock radio also puts really great rockin' songs in a non-rockin' context that's pretty much impossible to extricate them from. Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks" is unquestionably one of the most rockin' songs ever, but hearing it sandwiched uncomfortably for so long between horrible Foreigner and Bad Company songs has inevitably diluted some of its kick-ass Viking blues stomp.

4. It must make you drive at least 10 mph faster within the first 60 seconds and/or make doing the dishes fun.

This one is self-explanatory.

5. You know it when you hear it.

The most important requirement, and the toughest to sum up. But the opening to riff to T. Rex's "Bang A Gong" should offer some guidance.

OK, hopefully that explains things. Now the moment you've been waiting for. Are you ready? Here goes.

The most rockin' song of all-time is "Ramble Tamble" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Surely this is not a safe or particularly well-known choice. A lot of people would argue it's not even the most rockin' CCR song, or the most rockin' song on the album it comes from, 1970's Cosmo's Factory (which also includes "Up Around The Bend," "Run Through The Jungle," "Travelin' Band," and The Dude's favorite CCR track, "Lookin' Out My Back Door"). Great as those songs are, "Ramble Tamble" simply can't be beat in the rockin' department. Why? Because "Ramble Tamble" is like two super rockin' songs in one. It starts off as a suped-up, proto-punk take on Sun Records rockabilly. Then, about a minute and a half in, it slows down to a crawl and then dies for just a split-second, starting back up again as a slowly simmering psychedelic blues number anchored by a cascading guitar riff best-described as Abbey Road-esque. Just as drummer Doug Clifford seems spent from pounding the relentless jam into submission, the Sun sound comes back even faster and angrier than before for the closing minute and a half. A perfectly satisfying rock tune that meets all the rockin' criteria more completely than any song I can think of right now, "Ramble Tamble" essentially is a seven-minute mash-up record encompassing the history of blues, country, punk, and psychedelia. Until I fall in love with a different rockin' song, I can't imagine anything out-rockin' it .

So, what do you think? I know I'm right, but I suppose there's room for some debate here. What do YOU think is the most rockin' song of all time?