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Rod Stewart is a British rock singer and songwriter who has been entertaining audiences for over five decades with his distinctive raspy voice and charismatic stage presence. He began his career in the late 1960s as a member of the Jeff Beck Group and then joined Faces before launching a successful solo career in the 1970s. Known for his ability to blend different musical genres, from rock and folk to soul and pop, Rod Stewart has amassed a large and loyal fan base over the years. In this article, we will be counting down the top 10 best Rod Stewart songs of all time, taking into account their commercial success, critical acclaim, and lasting impact on popular culture. From classic rock anthems to heartfelt ballads, these songs represent the very best of Rod Stewart’s vast musical catalogue and showcase his exceptional talent as a songwriter and performer. Whether you are a lifelong fan or a newcomer to his music, you are sure to find something to love in this list of his greatest hits.
1. “Young Turks”
“Young Turks” is an upbeat and energetic song by Rod Stewart, released in 1981 as the lead single from his album “Tonight I’m Yours”. The song’s catchy melody and driving beat are complemented by the distinctive sound of a synthesized saxophone, which adds to the song’s overall sense of urgency and excitement. Lyrically, “Young Turks” tells the story of two young lovers who dream of escaping their mundane lives and starting anew, and the song’s chorus, with its memorable refrain of “Young hearts be free tonight”, has become an anthem of youthful rebellion and defiance. Overall, “Young Turks” is a classic example of Stewart’s ability to craft infectious pop-rock songs that are both musically and lyrically engaging.
2. “The First Cut Is the Deepest”
“The First Cut Is the Deepest” is a soulful and emotional ballad written by Cat Stevens, but made famous by Rod Stewart in 1976. The song features a gentle guitar strumming, simple drumbeat, and Stewart’s iconic raspy voice, which all work together to create a melancholic atmosphere. The lyrics are about the pain of heartbreak and the lasting impact it can have on a person’s life. The chorus, in particular, is a powerful reflection on the experience of being hurt: “But if you want, I’ll try to love again / Baby, I’ll try to love again but I know.” Despite its sadness, the song ends on a hopeful note, with Stewart singing about his willingness to take a chance on love again. “The First Cut Is the Deepest” remains one of Stewart’s most popular and enduring hits, with many other artists, including Sheryl Crow and Keith Hampshire, covering it over the years.
3. “I Was Only Joking”
“I Was Only Joking” is a classic rock ballad by Rod Stewart from his 1977 album “Foot Loose & Fancy Free”. The song showcases Stewart’s unique vocal style and heartfelt lyrics about the fleeting nature of relationships. The track features a mellow and melodic instrumentation, with a prominent acoustic guitar and piano, which perfectly complements Stewart’s passionate singing. The song was a commercial success and reached the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is a fan favorite and has been included in many of Stewart’s greatest hits compilations. Its catchy chorus and relatable lyrics have made it a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences today.
4. “You’re In My Heart”
“You’re In My Heart” is a classic love song by Rod Stewart that showcases his iconic raspy vocals and catchy melodies. Released in 1977, the song became a hit and is still a popular choice for weddings and romantic occasions today. The upbeat tempo and upbeat lyrics express the joy and happiness of being in love, with Stewart singing about the special connection he shares with his partner. The catchy chorus, “You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul, you’ll be my breath when I grow old,” is a memorable declaration of love that is sure to tug at the heartstrings of listeners. The song also features a strong instrumental section, including a guitar solo, that adds to its emotional impact. Overall, “You’re In My Heart” is a timeless love song that continues to resonate with audiences and remains one of Stewart’s most beloved hits.
“Sailing” is a soft rock song by Rod Stewart, originally released in 1975. The song is famous for its smooth, soothing melody and Stewart’s soulful voice. It features a prominent use of piano and acoustic guitar, accompanied by gentle percussion and a mellow electric guitar solo. The lyrics evoke a sense of wanderlust and the longing for adventure, as Stewart sings about sailing across the ocean and leaving his troubles behind. The song’s chorus is particularly memorable, with Stewart’s voice soaring over the backing vocals as he declares his love for the sea. “Sailing” was a major commercial success, topping the charts in the UK and reaching the top 10 in several other countries. It has since become a classic rock staple and a popular choice for wedding receptions and other events.
6. “Hot Legs”
“Hot Legs” is a rock song from Rod Stewart’s 1977 album “Foot Loose & Fancy Free”. The song’s lyrics speak about the lustful attraction the singer has for a woman, as he describes her legs as the highlight of her body. The song features catchy guitar riffs and a groovy beat, typical of Stewart’s music from this era. It was a commercial success, reaching the top 30 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and top 5 in the UK charts. “Hot Legs” became one of Stewart’s signature songs, and its playful and flirtatious tone made it a popular hit with audiences.
7. “The Killing of Georgie”
“The Killing of Georgie” is a poignant ballad by Rod Stewart that tells the story of a gay man named Georgie who is rejected by his family and society for his sexual orientation. The song is a departure from Stewart’s more upbeat rock anthems and features a haunting piano melody accompanied by strings and acoustic guitar. Stewart’s emotive vocals convey the sadness and injustice of Georgie’s story, as he sings about the violence and discrimination that Georgie faces in a world that refuses to accept him. The song is a moving tribute to the LGBTQ+ community and remains a powerful commentary on the need for greater acceptance and understanding of people who are different from ourselves.
8. “Reason to Believe” by Rod Stewart
“Reason to Believe” is a classic Rod Stewart song from his album Every Picture Tells a Story. The song features Stewart’s signature raspy vocals and is a perfect blend of rock and folk music. The lyrics are about a man who has lost his love and is looking for a reason to believe that she still loves him. The song’s upbeat melody and catchy chorus make it a sing-along favorite for fans of all ages. The song has been covered by many other artists over the years, including Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, but Stewart’s version remains the most popular. It’s a timeless song that continues to resonate with listeners today.
9. “Mandolin Wind”
“Mandolin Wind” is a song by Rod Stewart that was released in 1971 as part of his album “Every Picture Tells a Story”. It is a slow, acoustic ballad that showcases Stewart’s emotive and soulful vocals. The song is backed by a gentle, melodic mandolin that creates a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere. The lyrics speak of the passing of time and the bittersweet memories of a past love. Stewart’s delivery is heartfelt and sincere, making the song a poignant and touching reflection on lost love. The song’s simple structure and melody add to its emotional impact, creating a classic ballad that has stood the test of time. “Mandolin Wind” remains one of Rod Stewart’s most beloved songs, and its popularity has only grown over the years.
10. “Maggie May”
“Maggie May” is a classic rock song by Rod Stewart, released in 1971. It is widely considered one of his signature songs and a quintessential rock track of the era. The song’s acoustic intro and catchy guitar riff grab the listener’s attention before Stewart’s distinctive voice enters, telling the story of a young man’s love affair with an older woman named Maggie May. The song features an infectious melody, sing-along chorus, and a memorable mandolin solo, all contributing to its enduring appeal. “Maggie May” spent five weeks at number one in the UK and topped the charts in several other countries. The song’s popularity has endured over the decades and it remains a staple on classic rock radio stations around the world. Its timeless appeal and Stewart’s charismatic performance have helped make “Maggie May” a true classic of the rock genre.