A year ago I wrote a blog post about the most rockin' song of all time, which we all know is "Ramble Tamble" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I fully expected my selection of a semi-obscure CCR album track, which was picked using arbitrary, B.S.-heavy criteria I made up on the spot and no longer agree with, to be uncontroversial and pass without comment. Honestly, how many opinions could there really be on the most rockin' song of all time? Naming "Ramble Tamble" the most rockin' song of all time is like saying water is wet or The Dark Knight is awesome. It's just a mundane fact of life.
Well, I was wrong. Turns out readers had just as many opinions on rockin' songs as they do on the fuckability of Maggie Gyllenhaal. Who knew?
Ever since then I've been trying to find the Goofus to CCR's Gallant, the least rockin' song of all time. I had no problem thinking of dozens of songs I'd gladly slap with the rockin' tag, but least rockin'? There are exponentially more least rockin' song candidates out there. Deciding on just one would be impossible, right? Wrong! After nearly 12 months my search is over. I have found the least rockin' song of all time.
Before I reveal the song's identity, here's the criteria I used:
1. The song must be performed by someone with rock 'n' roll credibility
It would be too easy to pick a song by an easy listening cheeseball like Barry Manilow or Josh Groban, so decidedly non-rockin' artists are disqualified because the average listener has no reasonable expectation of being rocked by anything they do. The least rockin' song of all time is still a rock song, though just barely.
2. The song does not elicit any kind of passionate response
There are tons of annoyingly hateable songs out there. But the least rockin' song of all time does not inspire hatred. It does not inspire anything. It is a passion neutralizer. Ideally, the least rockin' song of all time would quell tensions in the Middle East to the point where the various religious and ethnic sects would forget their age-old divisions and simply sit in folding chairs and stare restlessly at 3-year-old copies of Newsweek.
3. The song is not a ballad
Again, too easy. There's no expectation of being rocked, or intention on the part of the artist to provoke rocking. It's like saying Driving Miss Daisy is the worst action film of all time.
4. Every rockin' artist gets a mulligan
Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" appears to be a perfect candidate for the least rockin' song of all time. But Aerosmith gets a pass because of "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion" and "Mama Kin." But if Aerosmith ever records a song that not rocks that hard again, look out.
OK, are you ready? Here you go!
For those who don't feel like watching a really lame YouTube clip, the song is James Taylor's cover of "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)."
Why this song? It clearly is very un-rockin', but haven't I violated my own rules? Let me explain: James Taylor is a member of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, which gives him institutional rock cred. Also, "How Sweet It Is" was popularized by Marvin Gaye and also recorded by The Isley Brothers, Ben E. King, and Sam & Dave, so it does have a track record of being fairly rockin'. The song somewhat skirts the balladry line, but it's a little too upbeat and sunny, and you could never slow dance to it. And James Taylor in no way deserves a mulligan–the only rockin' song in his catalog is "Steamroller Blues," which was done better by Elvis Presley. The only rule I'm possibly guilty of breaking is No. 2, because I do hate this song. I just don't hate it enough. I'll always prefer a truly hateable song like "Brown Eyed Girl" to "How Sweet It Is" because "Brown Eyed Girl" makes me feel alive with molten hot vitriol coursing through my veins. "How Sweet It Is," meanwhile, is like shopping for rugs with my girlfriend. It's a slow suffocation rather than an explosive bullet to the head. It gives you a moment or two to ponder how much fun you're not having listening to it.
So, we all agree on this, right?