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Bill Withers
The Smiths
Elton John
The 100 Greatest Singles
of the Rock and Roll Era

Over the last two years my love for Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" has been put through some extreme tests. Yet after cringing through several American Idol renditions and suffering through the song's sampling on DMX's "No Sunshine," the original has maintained all the qualities that make it a true and timeless rock and roll classic.

That's why the song tops the 2004 version of "The 100 Greatest Singles of the Rock and Roll Era," a list that I compile every other year and is essentially a list of songs I'd take with me if I were stranded on a proverbial desert island for 730 days.

You may notice the number of singles that have fallen off the list this year, but it would be inaccurate to say my love for those songs has gone away. Really, I probably love thousands of songs. These are just the super-elite singles and many of them were given an edge for their influence. Plus, songs dropping out of the list made room for many new entries, including Dionne Warwick's "Walk on By," which is 2004's highest debut.

The Beatles
Dusty Springfield

>> View 2002 List

  1. Ain't No Sunshine
    Bill Withers
  2. California Dreamin'
    The Mamas and the Papas
  3. There is a Light that Never Goes Out
    The Smiths
  4. Superstition
    Stevie Wonder
  5. Bennie and the Jets
    Elton John
  6. Eleanor Rigby
    The Beatles
  7. River Deep, Mountain High
    Tina Turner
  8. Walk on By
    Dionne Warwick
  9. Son of a Preacher Man
    Dusty Springfield
  10. Good Vibrations
    The Beach Boys

  11. Paint It Black
    The Rolling Stones
  12. Fire and Rain
    James Taylor
  13. Once in a Lifetime
    Talking Heads
  14. Papa was a Rolling Stone
    The Temptations
  15. Layla
    Derek and the Dominoes
  16. When Doves Cry
  17. There She Goes
    The La's
  18. Billie Jean
    Michael Jackson
  19. You Really Got Me
    The Kinks
  20. Suspicious Minds
    Elvis Presley

  21. Norwegian Wood
    (This Bird Has Flown)
    The Beatles
  22. Love Will Tear Us Apart
    Joy Division
  23. Papa Don't Preach
  24. Good Times
  25. Your Song
    Elton John
  26. Genius of Love
    Tom Tom Club
  27. Bittersweet Symphony
    The Verve
  28. Chain of Fools
    Aretha Franklin
  29. White Rabbit
    Jefferson Airplane
  30. What I'd Say
    Ray Charles

  31. No Woman No Cry
    Bob Marley
  32. Changes
    David Bowie
  33. Ghost Town
    The Specials
  34. Pump It Up
    Elvis Costello
  35. I Wanna Be Adored
    Stone Roses
  36. September Gurls
    Big Star
  37. Jealous Guy
    John Lennon
  38. Dancing in the Street
    Martha and the Vandella
  39. Bring It on Home to Me
    Sam Cooke
  40. Killing Me Softly with His Song
    Roberta Flack

  41. The Sound of Silence
    Simon & Garfunkel
  42. Cat's in the Cradle
    Harry Chapin
  43. Like a Rolling Stone
    Bob Dylan
  44. London Calling
    The Clash
  45. It Takes Two
    Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
  46. Nothing Compares 2 U
    Sinead O'Connor
  47. In My Life
    The Beatles
  48. Wonderwall
  49. Here Comes Your Man
    The Pixies
  50. Wild Horses
    The Rolling Stones

  51. Losing My Religion
  52. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
    Roberta Flack
  53. Girlfriend
    Matthew Sweet
  54. Dream On
  55. How Soon is Now?
    The Smiths
  56. In the Ghetto
    Elvis Presley
  57. Mo' Money Mo' Problems
    Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy
    and Mase
  58. Kashmir
    Led Zeppelin
  59. What's Going On
    Marvin Gaye
  60. Under Pressure
    Queen and David Bowie

  61. In the Midnight Hour
    Wilson Pickett
  62. One Way or Another
  63. Train in Vain
    The Clash
  64. Respect
    Aretha Franklin
  65. God Only Knows
    The Beach Boys
  66. I Heard it Through the Grapevine
    Gladys Night and the Pips
  67. Gloria
  68. Be My Baby
    The Ronettes
  69. Every Breath You Take
    The Police
  70. Girls & Boys

  71. Hungry Like the Wolf
    Duran Duran
  72. Let's Stay Together
    Al Green
  73. I Want You Back
    The Jackson Five
  74. What Do I Get?
    The Buzzcocks
  75. A Day in the Life
    The Beatles
  76. Been Caught Stealing
    Jane's Addiction
  77. Unfinished Sympathy
    Massive Attack
  78. Proud Mary
    Creedence Clearwater Revival
  79. Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang
    Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg
  80. Hotel California
    The Eagles

  81. Monday, Monday
    The Mamas and the Papas
  82. My Generation
    The Who
  83. Stayin' Alive
    The Bee Gees
  84. That's When I Reach for My Revolver
    Mission of Burma
  85. Time of the Season
    The Zombies
  86. You're So Vain
    Carly Simon
  87. Fake Plastic Trees
  88. Waiting in Vain
    Bob Marley
  89. I Got You (I Feel Good)
    James Brown
  90. You've Really Got a Hold on Me
    Smokey Robinson

  91. Don't Let Me Be Understood
    The Animals
  92. Last Goodbye
    Jeff Buckley
  93. Somebody to Love
    Jefferson Airplane
  94. Big Yellow Taxi
    Joni Mitchell
  95. Don't Leave Me This Way
    Thelma Houston
  96. Virginia Plain
    Roxy Music
  97. 1979
    Smashing Pumpkins
  98. Bizarre Love Triangle
    New Order
  99. Don't Stop Til You Get Enough
    Michael Jackson
  100. (Sitting on the) Dock of the Bay
    Otis Redding
Since taste inevitably evolves, this list is periodically updated. It was last updated in May 2004. The next update is scheduled for May 2006.