Top 10 Boston Songs
Before people started calling bedroom bands bedroom bands, Boston were a bedroom band. MIT tech whiz Tom Scholz wrote a batch of songs and recorded some home demos, playing almost all of the instruments himself in his basement studio (so technically speaking, Boston were a basement band). He recruited friend Brad Delp to sing, and within a couple of years the demos landed him a record deal.
The fussy Scholz wasn’t terribly prolific or wedded to tight release schedules. After the monster success of their 1976 self-titled debut, Boston took two years to release a follow-up LP — an eternity back then. But that was nothing compared to the eight-year break before their third album came out. After that, releases became even more sporadic, and some people stopped paying attention. The long breaks probably prevented Boston from becoming even bigger, but they managed to crank out plenty of classics during their peak years. We’ve picked out the very best for our list of the Top 10 Boston Songs.
‘A Man I’ll Never Be’
This introspective ballad from Boston’s second album carries the band, temporarily at least, out of its comfort zone, even when Scholz checks in with his trademark guitar fireworks. ‘A Man I’ll Never Be’ was released as the second single from ‘Don’t Look Back,’ reaching No. 31. It would be the band’s last Top 40 appearance until 1986’s ‘Amanda’ reached No. 1 (see No. 6 on our list of the Top 10 Boston Songs).
‘Something About You’
This album track from the band’s monster self-titled debut follows the playbook used on most of the other songs on the record — from Scholz’s fancy fretwork to Delp’s trouser-busting vocals. But it’s an airtight formula that totally rocks here, especially the brief but burning solo that rips apart the middle of the song.
Like many Boston songs, ‘Feelin’ Satisfied’ celebrates rock and roll. It’s pretty simple stuff, when you get right down to it, but the band’s conviction throughout the song — especially the hand claps that accompany the guitar riff during the choruses — makes it seem like it’s the most important thing in the world.
Boston grab on to a boogie groove and ride it all the way to the end of this song from the gazillon-selling debut album. Scholz first worked on the song in the early ’70s. Delp (who passed away in 2007) chipped in during the basement-demos stage, and a staple of classic rock radio was born. ‘Smokin” is the only track on our list of the Top 10 Boston Songs not solely penned by Tom Scholz.
After an eight-year delay, Boston’s third album finally came out in 1986, and the opening track and first single wasn’t the out-and-out rocker fans were expecting or hoping for. Instead it’s a love song that was completed way back in 1982 (a dispute with the record company during the first half of the decade prevented release of any new material). Still, ‘Amanda’ and ‘Third Stage’ both reached No. 1.
‘Rock & Roll Band’
Boston were big on singing about music, how that music made them feel and their jobs making that music (see No. 8 on our list of the Top 10 Boston Songs). They pull off this cut from their debut album like they’re seasoned vets, congratulating themselves on a job well done — even if that job was playing for a dozen people in a Rhode Island bar.
‘Peace of Mind’
‘Peace of Mind’ was one of the songs Scholz recorded for the demo tape that got his band signed. It was fully formed then, so the album version — which became a Top 40 single — basically just amps up the guitars and production. Like much of the ‘Boston’ album, ‘Peace of Mind’ remains in regular rotation on classic-rock radio. It still sounds great, especially that fuzzy guitar riff.
‘Don’t Look Back’
Back in the ’70s it was unheard of for an artist to go a year without releasing a new record. So when Boston didn’t follow up their bestselling debut album right away, fans wondered what was going on. They’d eventually get used to this sort of thing from the band (it took another eight years for their third album to come out). But once the title track of their second LP raced out of the speakers, all was forgiven. The song reached No. 4, the album hit No. 1, and Boston were on top again.
‘Long Time,’ like the instrumental intro ‘Foreplay’ that’s often attached to it, was written about six years before Boston’s self-titled debut album came out. It’s one of Scholz’s earliest compositions, but the musical template he’d follow throughout the band’s career — fist-raising guitar riffs, crystal-clear solos, tightly constructed foundations — was already in place.
‘More Than a Feeling’
Almost every single track on Boston’s debut album is a classic — the majority of cuts found on our list of the Top 10 Boston Songs come from the LP. It all starts with ‘More Than a Feeling,’ the opening song and lead single (which reached the Top 5). It features one of rock’s all-time great riffs and a top contender for the air guitar hall of fame. Lyrically, it hits the band’s favorite subject: the transcendental power of music. With ‘More Than a Feeling,’ they add to that long legacy.