Music

Here are the Boston artists on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 list

"More than half the songs here — 254 in all — weren’t present on the old list...The result is a more expansive, inclusive vision of pop, music that keeps rewriting its history with every beat.”

Donna Summer on October 30, 1978 in Boston Mass. at The Music Hall. Boston Globe Staff Photo Janet Knott.

Boston is claiming its place in music history.

For the first time since 2004, Rolling Stone magazine updated its list of top 500 songs of all time, and a number of artists with Massachusetts ties made the cut.

Big names like Donna Summer, Aerosmith, Boston, and James Taylor all had songs on the list. Summer’s 1977 synth-pop hit “I Feel Love” topped the local artists at number 52. Taylor came in at 146 with “Fire and Rain,” Aerosmith was at 199 with “Dream On,” and Boston’s classic “More Than A Feeling” placed at 212.

“Writing “Fire and Rain” was like a therapy session for Taylor,” Rolling Stone wrote. “‘It’s like three samplings of what I went through,’ he recalled. The first verse was written in his London apartment, after learning about the suicide of his friend Suzanne Schnerr. The second verse is about his drug addiction, while the final verse refers to his stay in a Massachusetts psychiatric facility.”

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The Modern Lovers, a band fronted by Massachusetts native Jonathan Richman, placed at number 77 with the 1976 song “Roadrunner.” 

“Jonathan Richman was an ordinary geek from suburban Boston, but he made “Roadrunner” the ultimate garage-rock road trip,” Rolling Stone wrote. “It’s an ecstatic two-chord tribute to cruising down the highway, just a lonely kid in a car with the radio on.”

The Cars, The Pixies, and Carly Simon — all artists with Boston or Massachusetts ties — also had songs on the list. 

Here are all the songs by artists with local ties on the top 500 list:

  • 52. Donna Summer, “I Feel Love”
  • 77. The Modern Lovers, “Roadrunner”
  • 146. James Taylor, “Fire and Rain”
  • 199. Aerosmith, “Dream On”
  • 212. Boston, “More Than a Feeling”
  • 369. The Cars, “Just What I Needed”
  • 493. The Pixies, “Where Is My Mind”
  • 495. Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain”

Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” topped the list at number one. Public Enemy, Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan, and Nirvana all had a song in the top five.

 A lot has changed since 2004, the magazine wrote, and it was time for a revision. According to Rolling Stone, over 250 artists, songwriters, and producers sent in a ranked list of their top 50 songs, and nearly 4,000 songs were submitted in total.

“Back then the iPod was relatively new, and Billie Eilish was three years old. So we’ve decided to give the list a total reboot,” Rolling Stone wrote. “Where the 2004 version of the list was dominated by early rock and soul, the new edition contains more hip-hop, modern country, indie rock, Latin pop, reggae, and R&B. More than half the songs here — 254 in all — weren’t present on the old list, including a third of the Top 100. The result is a more expansive, inclusive vision of pop, music that keeps rewriting its history with every beat.”

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