As part of this year’s 885 Greatest Rock Songs countdown on WXPN, we asked a number well-known Philadelphians to share their own picks for the best rock and roll moments of all time. Today we bring you the top picks (plus an honorable mention) from 6-ABC’s Matt O’Donnell, who is the weekday morning anchor for Action News.
1. Elvis Presley “That’s Alright” – Perhaps the first true rock and roll song. Couldn’t leave The King off this list. In fact, had to make him number one.
2. Black Sabbath “Symptom of the Universe” – Simply the greatest guitar riff ever put down on tape. From the band that helped create a whole new sub-genre of rock and roll: heavy metal. And yes, the “evil,” bat-eating lead singer went on to star in a reality TV show.
3. Led Zeppelin “Communication Breakdown” – This song helped make rock and roll heavier, more unpredictable, and featured a sound that was large enough to fill entire stadiums. And that’s one of the best sticksmen in history laying down the beat – the late John Bonham.
4. Neil Young “Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)” – This is of course the rocking version, not the acoustic. Neil Young at his rawest, and provides one of the simplest, most thoughtful, and yet most tragic lines in rock and roll music: “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.”
5. Van Halen “Dreams” – This song helped cement one of the greatest comebacks in stadium rock – the beginning of the Van-Hagar era. The melody invokes great feelings and the lyrics offer great inspiration. Van Halen may have rocked harder with Roth, but they had more hooks and chops with Sammy.
HONORABLE MENTION: Mad Season “River of Deceit” – Sorry for throwing a ballad at you with this list, but I can never tire of this song. A collaboration between the late Layne Staley (of Alice in Chains) and members of Pearl Jam, this song really captures it for me.