A History of Rock Music In 500 Songs

history of rock music

There ‘s an abundance of music podcasts that you can listen to these days, many of which are devoted to the work of a particular band, while others take a look at a specific genre, such as rock, R&B, or pop. One of the best of the current batch of rock and roll-themed podcasts is writer Andrew Hickey’s A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs. This entertaining series, now in its fourth season, examines the arc of rock history by telling the complete story behind one memorable song in each episode. For example, one episode might trace the creation of  “Heroes & Villains,” by The Beach Boys, while another might reach further back into the rock and roll pantheon to illuminate the story of Jesse Belvin’s 1959 classic “Goodnight My Love.”

The podcasts range in length from about a half hour to around 90 minutes and are full of fascinating facts and ephemera about the song and the artists being examined in that episode. Hickey’s in-depth studies include a history of the band that recorded the song, other artists that influenced the band, and even a look at the social and political atmosphere in the era in which the song was originally recorded. For example, in the episode devoted to Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” Hickey offers an all-encompassing history of the band, whose members included Stephen Stills and Neil Young, details what led to the song’s inception, and examines how that tune came to be embraced as an anti-war anthem.

This is a show that will have strong appeal for true music fans, thanks to the exhaustive research and attention to detail Hickey brings to each episode. In the entry focused on The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset,” Hickey not only covers the history of the band, and the often volatile relationship between brothers Ray and Dave Davies, but also details their interactions with other members of the group, including drummer Mick Avery and bassist Pete Quaife. He also examines the invaluable contributions made by Ray’s first wife, Rasa Didzpetris, to several of the songs from the band’s classic era. This is something that’s not covered to any great extent in other histories of The Kinks, and it’s these types of revelations that make the podcast such a compelling listen.

Hickey’s also not afraid to dispel inaccurate facts, rumors or popular myths regarding the songs he looks at in the show. In the episode on Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made To Love Her,” he shares some absorbing facts about the history of Motown, and Wonder’s early career.

The engrossing and thought-provoking episodes of A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs will have you reaching for your music collection, and giving many of your favorites another spin, albeit with a fresh perspective. Andrew Hickey’s comprehensive look at the songs that have defined the rock and roll genre is essential listening. You can find the podcast at https://500songs.com/, where you’ll also find Hickey’s insightful liner notes and additional information about each episode.

-John Visconti

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John Visconti is a lifelong music and movies aficionado with wide-ranging tastes, from The British Invasion and Motown, to the blues, a dash of jazz, on through to power pop, funk, retro soul, folk, bubblegum and metal. He digs film noir, screwball comedies, classic B movies, and Toho’s original Godzilla series. In the late 1980s, John was a writer and editor for the KISS fanzine Fire. A friend once called him “the human incarnation of an entertainment encyclopedia.” After long stints in the worlds of publishing and IT, he’s currently working in healthcare. You can check out his blog, John V's Eclectic Avenue at http://jveclectic.blogspot.com.

4 comments on “A History of Rock Music In 500 Songs

  1. Les Fender

    Everything you say John! I am addicted to this podcast. However, I’d say it’s not for the casual music fan, more for the hardcore.

  2. This podcasts sounds great. I have around 6000 LPs, mostly 60s & 70s, so this seems to be something I would enjoy. Only 1 problem. Being 69yrs old, I have no idea how to listen to a podcast. Do I have to listen while sitting at my computer, or can I get this on Spotify or my google mini? Hate to be sitting at my computer for for an hour, just listening. Rather be in my lounge chair.

  3. You can get it on Spotify. Just hit the Search button, type in “500 songs”, then click on the entry for the show where it shows up on the list. Then click on whatever episode you want to listen to!

  4. Thanks Bill, that worked. I can say that the my first podcast listen was ‘For What It’s Worth’. I see i have many more to go, but a great listen.
    Thanks again

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