[now playing: Led Zeppelin IV]

I will never forget when I listened to my dad play guitar for the first time.

I was captivated that someone had the ability to sweep their fingers across strings that each sounded so different, yet blended so beautifully. He always played Over the Hills and Far Away (Led Zeppelin) or Elton John as I watched, completely enthralled.

Watching my father play was a defining moment for my love of music. Classic rock will always have my heart. In fact, for my 18th birthday, I asked for Heart concert tickets. I was the youngest one there by a long shot, but  I’m pretty sure my face was melted off by the incendiary tones of Nancy Wilson’s guitar playing.

As I continue my nosedive into music history, I wanted to highlight classic songs that can never be left out when I am building a playlist:

  • Going To California-Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV: On the rock-folk side of Led Zeppelin, this song immediately takes you to 1970s California. The acoustics and stripped-down vocals transcend the decade. Cue the love, peace, and hippies.
  • Never Going Back Again-Fleetwood Mac, Rumors: This album is probably the most worn out of all my records. It’s timeless. The way Lindsay Buckingham brings a simple, yet complex, guitar riff so much life is incredible.
  • Magic Man-Heart, Dreamboat Annie: As I mentioned earlier, this was probably one of the best concerts I have ever witnessed. Nancy Wilson paved the way for women to be recognized as epic guitarists. From the first note, this song unquestionably rocks. Air guitar is always encouraged here.
  • Crossroads-Cream, Wheels of Fire: There’s nothing better than a strong, bluesy guitar riff, and Eric Clapton throws it down in this song. This song has been covered many times; one famously by John Mayer, but this version just brings a classic blues jam that is unforgettable.
  • Gimme Shelter– The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed: This song is the definition of classic rock: a little blues, gritty harmonies, anthem-like lyrics, and bold guitars. It’s one of those songs that grips you and takes you on a raw, emotional rock journey that you never want to leave.

This short list of artists only scratches the surface of the classic rock heroes that have shaped our music culture. Sometimes, it takes looking to the past to appreciate the present.

“The key to longevity is to learn every aspect of music that you can” -Prince