Something Else! Playlists: The Rock Anthem

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So I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning, attempting to wipe the dust of sleep out of my droopy eyes while waiting for the five-minute coffee timer to go off. I’d just switched on the satellite radio a few minutes before, but my ears hadn’t really started paying attention yet. Just as I pour my cuppa and sit back down to deal with some writing stuff, a song comes on that makes me spin my head around to see who the artist was. It turns out to be the Foo Fighters, the song being “Long Road To Ruin.”

I’m telling you, it’s a freaking instant anthem, at least that’s what my body told me. At once I’m more alert, ready to tackle what a few minutes ago seemed impossible. I swear, I’d not even sipped the coffee yet.

This got me to thinking about the nature of rock anthems. Are there certain characteristics that make a song qualify, or is it more of a personal, listener-based thing? Is it just that you like the song much more than others? A song you can’t help but sing along to?

I’m not really sure, though I do know that I react differently when I hear one of my own anthems. Sometimes, it seems like the song removes the “me” from the situation, leaving pure emotion to ride along. But isn’t that emotion part of the “me?” Surely, it is.

After a few minutes, I remember a beautiful description of such songs that a co-worker had once used: it makes you forget who you are. This seems to lean toward my “removal of ‘me'” thing. All I know is that when one of these songs come on, especially in concert, I do forget about nearly everything for a few minutes.

One of my favorite examples of this came from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony a few years ago when the Foo Fighters joined up with Queen to bliss out with “Tie Your Mother Down.” Just look at Dave Grohl havin’ the time of his life. Really great stuff:

Oh yeah, my anthems. Hmmm, here’s a quick playlist …

“Me and the Boys” – NRBQ version (sorry Bonnie Raitt)
“(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” – Elvis Costello
“I Wanna Be Sedated” – The Ramones
“The Maker” – Emmylou Harris
“Hearts of Stone” – Southside Johnny
“Friend of Mine” – Les Dudek
“Free Will” – Rush
“Born To Run” – Bruce Springsteen
“Rock ‘n Roll All Night” – Kiss (live version only!)
“Midnight Rambler” – The Rolling Stones (from Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out)
“Garageland” – The Clash
“Anarchy in the U.K.” – Sex Pistols
“The Sea Refuses No River” – Pete Townshend
“Redemption Song” – Bob Marley

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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