After pondering the question of the best song of all time for quite a while, I'm prepared to submit a candidate. Before you all lampoon my choice consider the following; 1) Said song should have multiple interpretations that fit almost any culture or occasion. 2) It should have a melody that it is not only easy to remember but open to infinite harmonic arrangement. 3) It should transcend both instrument and voice; it's notes taking on a ethereal quality conveying it's message to your heart & soul. There are many songs that do this for me personally, but there is one that meets this criteria for many millions around the world. It has been translated into more languages than I can count and equally well translated into more musical genres than I can think of. The Song is........................Amazing Grace. Wait a second....., put down your rotten veggies,......step back from your indignant secular prose, and think about it. I have heard more artists of every genre perform more interpretations of this song than any other. And when it it is played/sung with talent and conviction, it never ceases to move my spirit. Now that friends, is a great song. Perhaps even worthy of the lofty title: Best Song of All Time.
Very hard question to answer. I will add only this. I have never heard (before or since) a song that changed and defined what music could be more so than Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It was released the summer before my freshman year of High School and it really blew my mind and everybody elses for that matter. Nirvana was basically The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and The Who for me personally. Yes there were other good (maybe even great) bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Jane's Addiction, or Nine Inch Nails but none of them wrote anything as grand as "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
I'm with you Nicholas!!!! Last year, when I was in the Bay Area, managing a skate and surf shop (YEAH - times were tough, especially when ALL your experience is in the dying music business, and the high end audio bizness, anyway) I asked the kids under me to pick one song that encapsulated their generation - and mine was "Smells Like Teen Spirit."!! That band was US, our generation, those words were like Kerouac or Hemingway to me - they spoke to how we (my friends and I) felt, and it gave the world a glimpse of who we were. I was in high school when that album (Nevermind) dropped, and I was learning to play the drums. My buddies and I would play that whole album, over and over again.
When he put the shotgun to his mouth, all my friends were heart-broken, I was PISSED. I thought he was a coward, leaving his kid like that. It took me YEARS, and seeing Tori Amos perform "Smells Like Teen Spirit" live at CW Post College to get over my anger at him. Plus I was blessed to s/w Tori about him when I was at Atlantic - and she put some rumors to rest for me.