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The Ten Classic Rock Songs You Need On Your Memorial Day Playlist

Plus an extra song for good luck!

First things first, we created the playlist for you so, we recommend pressing play before you start reading. Second, but perhaps most importantly let’s remember the reason for the season. Though we may be distanced this year for Memorial Day, it is more important than ever to spend time with friends and family however you can and to reflect on those that made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

With that being said, let’s get down to the list (ranked in order of playlist track listings, not in official AXS TV Rankings):

1.) Second Hand News – Fleetwood Mac
Look, if this bop can be the opening track to one of the most iconic albums of all time, it can be the opening track to our Memorial Day playlist. The first song off of Rumours, “Second Hand News” is going to start our Memorial Day gathering off on the right foot.
Second Hand News FUN FACT – This song was originally an acoustic demo titled “Strummer”. But when Buckingham heard the Bee Gees’ “Jive Talkin'”, he rearranged it with more audio tracks and the rhythmic effect from “playing” the faux-leather seat of a studio chair to make it evoke a slightly Celtic feel.

2.) Into The Mystic– Van Morrison
From Van Morrison’s album Moondance, “Into The Mystic” is the feel good acoustic jam we’re looking for on a day off of work. Would “Moondance” or “Brown Eyed Girl” have been a more popular choice? Maybe! But we didn’t get into the cutthroat business of ranking songs online to be popular!
Into The Mystic FUN FACT – According to a BBC survey, because of this song’s cooling, soothing vibe, this is one of the most popular songs for surgeons to listen to whilst performing operations. Keep that in mind while you’re tending to the grill.

3.) Tennessee Whiskey – George Jones
For those of you that ahem… don’t know, Chris Stapleton’s goosebump inducing ballad “Tennessee Whiskey” is actually a cover of George Jones’ goosebump inducing ballad, “Tennessee Whiskey”. Like Memorial Day itself, this song is best enjoyed with… Tennessee Whiskey.
Tennessee Whiskey FUN FACT – George Jones’ version was also a cover. The song was written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove, offered to and turned down by George Strait and originally recorded by David Allen Coe.

4.) American Girl – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
You could probably choose any song from Tom Petty to put on nearly any type of playlist and it will feel right. But there is something about the jangling guitar, the Bo Diddley beat, and the irresistibly catchy chorus that makes this our choice for a playlist to kickoff summer. Oh yeah and it has “America” in the title.
American Girl FUN FACT – The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas admitted to ripping off this song on their 2001 hit “Last Nite”. “Good for you,” Petty replied, admiring his audacity in admitting it, “It doesn’t bother me.”

5.) Tupelo Honey – Van Morrison
We’re nearly halfway through the playlist, it’s time to slow things down a bit and after “American Girl”, we’re feeling a bit romantic. Van Morrison’s nearly seven minute “country soul” ballad off the eponymous album is an ideal song to fill this spot. Grab the dog, enjoy a slow dance in the yard, and get ready for the second half of the playlist.
Tupelo Honey FUN FACT – Tupelo honey is honey made from the sweet flowers of the Tupelo tree, which grows abundantly in swampy areas of the Southern United States.

6.) Cocaine Blues – Johnny Cash
After a nice slow jam your heart rate is slowed down, it’s time to jack it back up and we know just the way… cocaine!!! JOKING! America is nothing if not a redemption story and Johnny Cash’s recording from Folsom State Prison epitomizes that story. Not to mention, it’s a mad toe tapper and has a positive message: “Drink all you want to, but let that cocaine be.”
Cocaine Blues FUN FACT – For the recording at Folsom Johnny Cash altered the lyric “San Quentin” to “Folsom” and the last line to “Lay off the whiskey…” instead of “Drink all you want…”

7.) Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones
We’ve slowed it down, we’ve sped it up, now it’s time to “Let It Bleed”! The title track off the Stones 1969 album continues with our illicit substance theme and deals with some other adult oriented lyrics, but we give the nod to this honkey tonk style jam with Ian Stewart’s ringing piano over the album’s more radio friendly hits “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.
Let It Bleed FUN FACT – This was the first Stones song to also be the album title.

8.) James Dean – Eagles
Name one thing Americans identify with than more being a rebel, we’ll wait… “James Dean” is a song written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Jackson Browne, and J. D. Souther, performed by the Eagles and is 100% an American classic meticulously crafted to be played every summer from here until the end of time.
James Dean FUN FACT – The B-side of “James Dean”, “Good Day in Hell” is notable for being the first Eagles track recorded with Don Felder, who joined the band midway through the sessions for the album.

9.) Life Is A Highway – Rascal Flatts
Now we’re feeling patriotic and we honor that with muscle cars, roaring down the highway, and a little Pixar magic! Like a heartbroken Michael Scott once proved, it is impossible not to sing along to this song no matter how you’re feeling. After more than two months of staying at home, we all need a song to sing along to!
Life is a Highway FUN FACT – We just found out this song is actually written by Canadian-native Tom Cochrane… uh sorry!

10.) Take It Easy – Eagles
It’s a three day weekend. Take it easy.
Take It Easy FUN FACT – Jackson Browne started writing this song for his first album, but he didn’t know how to finish it. At the time, he was living in an apartment in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles and his upstairs neighbor was Glenn Frey who needed songs for his new band – the Eagles.

BONUS TRACK Never Going Back Again – Fleetwood Mac
Pretty sure this is how we all feel about work Monday night of Memorial Day Weekend. As YouTube commenter Brady Blackburn wrote “Heartbreak and resignation set to music. I’ve had it on a loop today.” You’re seen Brady, you’re seen.
Never Going Back Again FUN FACT – It is one of several songs on Rumours that Buckingham wrote in the wake of the breakup of his relationship with fellow Fleetwood Mac member Stevie Nicks. It was written after he had started a rebound relationship with another woman.

What do all of these songs have in common? Besides residing in this incredible playlist, they’re all by artists featured in AXS TV’s Memorial Day Weekend Music Marathon! So, if you need a playlist longer than 11 songs, just flip on AXS TV, turn it up loud, and let the weekend roll! Thank you to all our troops and active military. To those that have served and made the ultimate sacrifice, you are never forgotten.


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