- Black Sabbath – Paranoid
This song might not be one of the deep cuts, but it’s always been my favourite. Straight from the razor edged riff to the pummeling bass and drums that follow, it grabs me every damn time. I’ve never not sung along with it when it comes on, and I always sing the solo parts too hahaha. I think there’s a little bit of Paranoid’s spirit in every solo that I play.
- The Who – Behind blue eyes
If my fist clenches crack it open, before I use it and lose control. If I smile please tell me some bad news before I laugh and act like a fool. And if I swallow anything evil, put your fingers down my throat. If I shiver please give me a blanket, keep me warm, let me wear your coat.” Some of the first lyrics I ever learned, and very influential on me as a writer. Also, this was my dads favourite song, and we always bonded over it.
- The White Stripes – Little Acorns
I think I can trace back my love for all things Jack White to exactly this song. Long, narrative intro, accompanied by piano. Then suddenly, the nastiest fucking guitar tone just bursts out of nowhere, like a xenomorph through the chest. Fucking brilliant.
- (the) Melvins – A History of bad men
There’s no need to explain this one if you’ve ever heard the song – but in case you haven’t – two drummers play you into a trance like state, whilst a guitar tone with the viscosity of wet cement is just dumped over you, and as you sink away, uncle Buzz just sings out some of the most paranoid and yet beautiful lyrics I’ve ever heard. Heard it the first time on my way home from work in a shuffle playlist – had to stop the car when I realized that I was listening to something that would change my entire perspective on heavy forever.
- Robert Johnson – Hellhound on my trail
The blues is what got me where I am today. It’s how I learnt to play the guitar. Anything by Robert Johnson is pure magic actually, but this song in particular captures the forboding feeling of the blues for me better than any other.
- Budgie – Breadfan
We’ve probably stolen from the idea of this song accidentally, many more times than we would like to admit. The riffs are majestic, the bass run is one of the most lively in existence, the vocals are otherwordly, and the lyrics are fantastically written. First heard this when I was just a kid – knew from the first notes that I needed to “play in a band like that” one day.
- Blind Willie Johnson – (or any adaptation of “In my time of dying” by Bob Dylan or Led Zeppelin)
Yes, gospel blues – and it’s damn good. First time I heard that slide I was hooked to the blues and all it had to offer. Also, the lyrical contemplation of your own mortality and how you’d like your loved ones to handle it – that really got to me when I was young. I’ve been thinking about death ever since hahaha.
- Led Zeppelin – Dazed and confused
That haunting guitar scale that sounds like a downward spiral into complete fucking soul cruhshing misery, the psychedelic soundscape, the messy shredding solo, the lovers lamentation in the lyrics, and my absolute favourite vocal performance ever by Robert Plant places this song high up on my list of favourite songs ever. First record I ever bought for myself, and this song is my favourite track.
- Kyuss – Space Cadet (or anything else from Sky Valley really).
The band that got me into stoner rock as a whole. Love everything they ever did to bits. But I chose this song specifically cause it’s my favourite song to relax and unwind to. And my absolute favourite acoustic guitar song of all time. First time I heard it I was coming down from a heavy one, and just about ready to go up again. Sank right into the couch and a complete calm washed over me. Still listen to it every time things get a bit too much.
- Electric Wizard – Return trip
I remeber thinking that I was into heavy music, cause I listened to death metal and some crazy grind and thrash and stuff, and then I heard this song. It totally obliterated me, and I think since then I’ve always tried to be as heavy as this, but alas, no luck.
Haven’t ever come across anything this heavy ever again – and that’s kinda amazing.
Honourable mentions – Anything by Leonard Cohen or Chris Cornell. They were probably the biggest influences in my lyric writing in my formative years, and it’s stuck with me all this time. Sucked losing them both recently.