"The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" was the cover story of a special issue of Rolling Stone, issue number 963, published in December 2004, a year after the magazine published its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".
- Of the 500 songs, 351 are from the United States and 120 from the United Kingdom; they are followed by Canada, with 13 (a majority of them by Neil Young); Ireland, with 12 entries (of which 8 were composed by U2); Jamaica, with 7 (most of them by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots and the Maytals); Australia, with two (AC/DC); Sweden (ABBA) and France (Daft Punk), each with one.
- The list includes only songs written in English, with the sole exception of "La Bamba" (number 345), sung in Spanish by the American singer-songwriter Ritchie Valens.
- Few songs written prior to the 1950s are included; some that are listed are Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" (1936), in the version recorded by Cream, and Hank Williams's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (1949). "The House of the Rising Sun", listed in the version by English rock band the Animals, was recorded at least as early as 1934. Muddy Waters' "Rollin' Stone" (1950) is based on an earlier song, dating to the 1920s.
- There is one instrumental on the list: "Green Onions" by the American band Booker T. and the M.G.'s (number 181).
- The number of songs from each of the decades represented in the 2004 version is as follows:
|Decade||Number of songs||Percentage|
- The Beatles are the most heavily represented musical act, with 23 songs on the list. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison are also represented as solo artists. However, Lennon is the only artist to appear twice in the top 10, as a member of the Beatles and as a solo artist. The Beatles are followed by Bob Dylan (15); the Rolling Stones (14); Elvis Presley (11); Holland–Dozier–Holland (as songwriters), U2 (8); the Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix (7); Led Zeppelin, Prince, Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, Chuck Berry (6); Elton John, Ray Charles, the Clash, the Drifters, Buddy Holly, and the Who (5).
- The artists not included on the list of the top 100 artists but having the most songs featured in the list are the Animals, Blondie, Frank Sinatra and the Isley Brothers, each with three songs.
- Three songs appear on the list twice, performed by different artists: "Mr. Tambourine Man", performed by Bob Dylan (number 107) and by the Byrds (number 79); "Blue Suede Shoes" by Presley (number 430) and by Carl Perkins (number 95); and "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith (number 346) and by Run-DMC (number 293).
- The shortest tracks are "Rave On!" by Buddy Holly running 1:47, "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis (1:52), and Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody" (1:53).
- The longest tracks are "The End" (11:41) by the Doors; "Desolation Row" (11:21) by Bob Dylan; and "Marquee Moon" (9:58) by Television.
- Love is the most frequent word used in the songs' lyrics, with 1057 occurrences, followed by I'm (1000 uses), oh (847 uses), know (779 uses), baby (746 uses), got (702 uses), and yeah (656 uses).
In May 2010, Rolling Stone compiled an update, published in a special issue and in digital form for the iPod and iPad. The list differs from the 2004 version, with 26 songs added, all of which are songs from the 2000s except "Juicy" by The Notorious B.I.G., released in 1994. The top 25 remained unchanged, but many songs down the list were given different rankings as a result of the inclusion of new songs, causing consecutive shifts among the songs listed in 2004. The highest-ranked new entry was Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" (number 100).
The number of songs from each decade in the updated version is as follows:
|Decade||Number of songs||Percentage|
Top 10 songs
|1||Bob Dylan||"Like a Rolling Stone"||1965|
|2||The Rolling Stones||"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"||1965|
|4||Marvin Gaye||"What's Going On"||1971|
|6||The Beach Boys||"Good Vibrations"||1966|
|7||Chuck Berry||"Johnny B Goode"||1958|
|8||The Beatles||"Hey Jude"||1968|
|9||Nirvana||"Smells Like Teen Spirit"||1991|
|10||Ray Charles||"What'd I Say"||1959|
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's selection of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll
- Rockism and poptimism
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". 2004-12-09. Archived from the original on 2008-06-22. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "Pete Seeger – American Favorite Ballads" (PDF). Volume 2, pp. 11–12. Smithsonian Folkways. 2009. pp. 27–28. Retrieved 2011-12-04.
- Palmer, Robert (1993). Blues Masters Volume 8: Mississippi Delta Blues. Liner notes. Rhino Records. p. 8. R2 71130.
- "Sex and drugs and Rock'n'roll: Analysing the lyrics of the Rolling Stone 500 greatest songs of all time". 2014-05-09. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
- "TOP-50 Greatest Songs on Guitar" by Rolling Stone magazine (YouTube video by Kaminari)
- "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" by Rolling Stone magazine (updated version of the list)
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" 2004 version of the list by archive.org
- "Dylan track voted 'greatest song'". BBC News. 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
- "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2010 Edition) with lists of additions and dropouts". Last.fm. Archived from the original on July 6, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-30.