Music Pairings: Great Tastes that Taste Great Together

I made a classic rock playlist. If you’re into classic rock, you may want to check it out.

A word on the term “classic rock”: How one defines classic rock is open to debate. For my playlist, I’ve included a lot of rock hits from the ’70s and the ’80s. The included artists are overwhelmingly male, and overwhelmingly white. This doesn’t mean that my definition of classic rock only includes white guys. I’ve made other playlists which are not so male, and not so white, that I’ll also be sharing here.

When I make a playlist, I tend to include one-off hits (AKA one hit wonders) or “the only song I like” by a given artist. This will help explain why some of my favorite artists are so infrequently featured on my Assorted Artists playlists. I find it impossible to choose one track by a favorite band, and I usually make separate playlists for my favorite artists, like my Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits playlist. This isn’t a hard and fast rule: Supertramp and ELO both make appearances on my Classic Rock playlist. But for either of them, you’re also getting some Redbone, Looking Glass, and King Harvest.

I put together this playlist in pairings. I’d find a song I liked, then experimented by pairing it with another song, until I found a series of pairings that stuck. They’ve stuck so well that, in some instances, I can’t hear one song without expecting the other to play next. Anything else sounds….off.

Hope you enjoy. Scroll to the bottom for a link to the full playlist.

Pairing #1: “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest + “Brandy” by Looking Glass

Pairing #2: “Baby Hold On” by Eddie Money + “I Saw the Light” by Todd Rundgren

“Baby Hold On” is an example of an artist taking what could be a really boring easy-listening schlockfest and elevating it by “Making the Right Choices.” In this case, Money adds the background vocals around the :50 second and 1:30 marks, as well as the bridge at 1:50, which turn an otherwise “whatever” track into something special.

If Todd Rundgren had played it straight, he could have cranked out easy-listening hits like this one throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s. Instead, he became a pioneer of “progressive rock”, electronic music, and a successful producer. Anyone who hears a track like “I Saw the Light” or “Hello It’s Me” and thinks these songs define Rundgren’s sound is sorely mistaken: guy has a bit of freak in him.

Pairing #3: “Evil Woman” by Electric Light Orchestra and “Take the Long Way Home” by Supertramp

I use these two tracks to close out the playlist.

Now we’ll get to what I’ll call “The Quadfecta”:

“Hold Your Head Up” by Argent + “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” by the Alan Parsons Project + “Couldn’t Get it Right” by Climax Blues Band + “Kiss You All Over” by Exile

You can check out the full playlist by clicking HERE. Be happy to hear what you think of it. Please, no recommendations for additions; it’s perfect as is.


2 thoughts on “Music Pairings: Great Tastes that Taste Great Together

  • I think of classic rock as 50s and 60s, maybe some early 70s. The evolution of Elvis to Beatles to Hendrix to Motown to folk and on was not just music. It was the course of US history screaming.


    • Yeah, the term “classic rock” appears to be ever-evolving. When I was a kid through early college, the radio stations pretty clearly defined “Oldies” as stuff from the ’50s and ’60s. “Classic Rock” at that time was mostly stuff from the late ’60s-late ’70s. There’s also a lot to be said about the overall “sound” of the music, as you mention. Stuff like surf music or Motown was strictly the realm of “oldies” radio back then. “Classic Rock” was mostly guitar-driven, album-oriented rock. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to hear New Wave on classic rock radio.

      As an aside, we have a mutual friend who was over one day, back when we could have people over. I was playing “Magical Mystery Tour” on the turntable for the girls (Helena loves the title track), and he said to me “it’s cool that you play your kids music from 60 years ago.” I thought he was joking, because we joke that way, but he was serious. It made me reflect a bit on what we pass on to our kids, and how X amount is very intentional, but Y amount may just be cool stuff we do and don’t really think about.


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