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The Best Rock Lyrics | 30 Lines That Matter

best rock lyrics

Rock lyrics might not always be scrutinized under a literary lens—after all, rock ‘n’ roll is all about the thrill and the fun. But, every now and then, a line zings through the noise, capturing our attention with its wit, its humor, or its audacious challenge to the status quo.

Some lyrics elevate themselves to the realm of poetry, etching themselves into our collective consciousness, while others resonate with our most primal instincts.

To carve their niche in our list of the best rock lyrics list, an artist had to craft phrases that are not just memorable, but unforgettable, transcending the confines of the song and, quite often, weaving their way into the fabric of everyday speech.

Are you ready? I sure am.

The Best Rock Lyrics Of All Time

No. 30. Led Zeppelin, “Stairway to Heaven”

From: Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now – it’s just a spring clean for the May Queen.

Thanks to this song, every time I hear a bustle in my hedgerow, I expect the May Queen to show up. Luckily I have a queen bed…

RELATED: What Is The Meaning Of Stairway To Heaven?

No. 29. The Who, “Substitute”

From: Single (1966)

I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth.

Can you eat the rich with a plastic spoon?

RELATED: The Very Best Songs By The Who

No. 28. The Beatles, “Old Brown Shoe”

From: Single (1969)

I want a love that’s right, but right is only half of what’s wrong.

Say what you want about George Harrison. The man is a genius.

RELATED: Read All About The Fab Four Here

No. 27. Billy Joel, “You May Be Right”

From: Glass Houses (1980)

You may be right, I may be crazy – but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.

I like to tell myself that I am that lunatic you’re looking for.

RELATED: The Best Songs To Ever Tell A Story

No. 26. Eagles, “Take It Easy”

From: Eagles (1972)

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.

This line has stuck with me through some real times.

RELATED: Meet The Eagles Band Members

No. 25. Patti Smith, “Gloria”

From: Horses (1975)

Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.

Amen sister.

best rock lyrics

RELATED: Nancy Spungen & The Day Punk Died

No. 24. Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Tuesday’s Gone”

From: (Pronounced ‘Leh-‘nerd ‘Skin-‘nerd) (1973)

I’d trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday.

You can feel the loss in every word.

RELATED: 10 Lynyrd Skynyrd Tracks Everyone Should Know

No. 23. Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower”

From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

There must be some kind of way outta here, said the joker to the thief.

Who did it better? Hendrix or Dylan?

RELATED: Check Out Jimi Hendrix’s Fortune

No. 22. Bruce Springsteen, “No Surrender”

From: Born in the U.S.A. (1984)

We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school.

Do kids even listen to records these days?

RELATED: Born In The USA Is Sorely Misunderstood

No. 21. Neil Young, “The Needle and the Damage Done”

From: Harvest (1972)

I caught you knockin’ at my cellar door – ‘I love you, baby, can I have some more?’

Where would music be without the exquisite pain of substance abuse?

RELATED: The Only Neil Young Playlist You Need

No. 20. Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”

From: Ladies of the Canyon (1970)

They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.

Sorry millennials, it wasn’t Counting Crows.

RELATED: Joni Mitchell & Bob Dylan On The Road

No. 19. Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

From: A Night at the Opera (1975)

I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.

One of the few lines that makes sense in this epic of a song.

RELATED: Queens Greatest Albums

No. 18. John Lennon, “Imagine”

From: Imagine (1971)

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

I may say the world needs more dreamers.

RELATED: The John Lennon & Yoko Ono Story

No. 17. David Bowie, “Changes”

From: Hunky Dory (1971)

And these children that you spit on as they try to change their world, are immune to your consultations – they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.

These doesn’t seem to far removed from what’s happening today. 53 years later. Bowie knew what was up.

RELATED: Marc Bolan & David Bowie – Glam Rock Godfathers

No. 16. Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

From: Let It Bleed (1969)

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you just might find you get what you need.

This one always reminds me of that time in my early twenties when I had to choose between two women…

Needless to say, I made the wrong choice.

RELATED: The Best Rolling Stones Songs Of All Time

No. 15. Simon and Garfunkel, “The Boxer”

From: Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.

This is more relevant now than ever.

best rock lyrics

RELATED: The Best 70s Songs

No. 14. Billy Joel, “Piano Man”

From: Piano Man (1973)

They’re sharing a drink called loneliness, but it’s better than drinking alone.

Who isn’t transported right to this bar when they hear the opening notes? A surefire karaoke hit.

RELATED: Step Into The World Of Paisley Park

No. 13. Eagles, “Hotel California”

From: Hotel California (1976)

We are programmed to receive – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

This song really says something. I’m not sure what. But I’m sure it does. It has to. Right?

RELATED: Did The Long Night At Wrong Beach Cause The Breakup Of The Eagles?

No. 12. Paul Simon, “Train in the Distance”

From: Hearts and Bones (1983)

Negotiations and love songs are often mistaken for one and the same.

The saving grace on an otherwise horrible album.

RELATED: 80s Artists You Have To Know

No. 11. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Fortunate Son”

From: Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)

Some folks are born made to wave the flag, oh they’re red, white and blue – and when the band plays ‘Hail to the Chief,’ they point the cannon at you.

Patriotism has a theme song. And this is it.

RELATED: Tom Fogerty. The Driving Force Behind CCR

No. 10. The Who, “My Generation”

From: My Generation (1965)

Hope I die before I get old.

One of many cracker lines in this generation-defining track.

RELATED: The Very Best Songs By The Who

No. 9. Simon and Garfunkel, “The Sound of Silence”

From: Sounds of Silence (1966)

The words of the poets are written on the subway walls and tenament halls.

I wish for the sounds of silence every time I catch a train in the city.

RELATED: Meet Karen Dalton – The Folk Singer You Might Not Have Heard Of

No. 8. Bob Seger, “Against the Wind”

From: Against the Wind (1980)

I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.

Ditto Bob.

RELATED: My 10 Favorite Bob Seger Songs

No. 7. Janis Joplin, “Me and Bobby McGee”

From: Pearl (1971)

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

Sorry Kris Kristofferson , Janis did it better,

RELATED: The Story Behind Janis Joplin’s Nude Portrait

No. 6. Neil Young, “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”

From: Rust Never Sleeps (1979)

It’s better to burn out than fade away.

Solemly stated any time a star passes before their time.

RELATED: Susan Acevedo – Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl

No. 5. John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”

From: Double Fantasy (1980)

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

Tell me about it.

best rock lyrics

RELATED: Julian Lennon Talks About The Relationship With His Father

No. 4. The Beatles, “The End”

From: Abbey Road (1969)

And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

I might be getting soft in my old age, but this really touches me. In a good way.

RELATED: Ranking The Best Albums By The Beatles

No. 3. The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

From: Who’s Next (1971)

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Democrat / Republican, they’re all the same.

RELATED: The Story Behind The Grateful Dead’s Touch Of Grey

No. 2. Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here”

From: Wish You Were Here (1975)

Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in the cage?

Roger Waters had strong opinions back in the day. He still does. His performance of The Wall is one of the greatest concerts I have ever seen.

RELATED: The Complete Pink Floyd Story

No. 1. Bob Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”

From: Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.

Some people though…

RELATED: The Day Dylan Went Electric