21 of the Best Rock Songs of The Last 40 Years That You May Have Forgotten About

21 of the best rock songs of the last 40 years that you may have forgotten about


Rock music has a timeless quality that resonates through the ages. While some songs become anthems that define an era, others quietly slip into the recesses of memory, waiting to be rediscovered. In the vast landscape of rock music spanning the last four decades, there are hidden gems that may have faded from the mainstream but still hold the power to captivate and inspire. Let’s take a nostalgic journey and rediscover 21 of the best rock songs from the past 40 years that you may have forgotten about.

The Cult – “She Sells Sanctuary” (1985)

With its iconic guitar riff and hypnotic vocals, this track by The Cult seamlessly blends post-punk and hard rock, creating a timeless anthem that has stood the test of time.

Bruce Springsteen – “Born to Run” (1975)

21 of the best rock songs of the last 40 years that you may have forgotten about

Widely considered one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Born to Run” encapsulates the essence of Bruce Springsteen’s musical prowess. The iconic anthem, with its energetic instrumentation and anthemic lyrics, remains a symbol of the enduring spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. If you’re a fan, make sure you’re there when the song is performed when Bruce Springsteen returns to Australia

The Verve – “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (1997)

This symphonic rock masterpiece from The Verve is unforgettable, with its sweeping orchestral arrangement and poignant lyrics. Made all the more famous in various films including 90s classic Cruel Intentions, this tune is a sonic journey that leaves an indelible mark.

Bush – “Machinehead” (1994)

In the midst of the ’90s grunge wave, Bush emerged with “Machinehead,” a powerful track that showcases Gavin Rossdale’s raw vocals and the band’s ability to craft an infectious rock melody.

Live – Lightning Crashes” (1994)

Live’s emotional and introspective lyrics, combined with the haunting melody of “Lightning Crashes,” make it a standout track from the ’90s alternative rock scene.

Collective Soul – “Shine” (1993)

“Shine” by Collective Soul is a quintessential ’90s rock anthem, featuring catchy hooks and Ed Roland’s distinctive vocals. It’s a song that embodies the spirit of the decade.

Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun” (1994)

Grunge legends Soundgarden delivered an unforgettable hit with “Black Hole Sun,” a song that beautifully merges dark, introspective lyrics with Chris Cornell’s powerful vocals.

Stone Temple Pilots – “Plush” (1992)

Stone Temple Pilots’ “Plush” is a classic ’90s rock ballad that showcases the late Scott Weiland‘s dynamic vocal range and the band’s ability to create a memorable, soul-stirring melody.

Goo Goo Dolls – “Iris” (1998)

The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” is a timeless power ballad that transcends its era, capturing the essence of love and longing. It remains one of the band’s most timeless and enduring hits.

Pearl Jam – “Corduroy” (1994)

Amidst the plethora of Pearl Jam classics, “Corduroy” stands out with its raw energy, heartfelt lyrics, and Eddie Vedder’s impassioned vocals, making it a gem often overlooked.

Queensrÿche – “Silent Lucidity” (1990)

Progressive rock took a mainstream turn with Queensrÿche’s “Silent Lucidity,” a haunting ballad that showcases the band’s musical prowess and Geoff Tate’s evocative vocals.

Fuel – “Shimmer” (1998)

Fuel’s “Shimmer” is a post-grunge anthem that balances introspection with a driving rhythm. It’s a reminder of the band’s ability to create emotionally charged rock music.

The Smashing Pumpkins – “1979” (1995)

“1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins encapsulates the spirit of adolescence in the ’90s, blending alternative rock with a nostalgic narrative that remains etched in the hearts of many.

The Offspring – “Gone Away” (1997)

Known for their punk-infused sound, The Offspring surprised many with “Gone Away,” a poignant rock ballad that showcases a different facet of the band’s musical capabilities.

Bush – “Glycerine” (1994)

Bush makes a second appearance on this list with “Glycerine,” a stripped-down ballad that highlights Gavin Rossdale’s emotive vocals and the band’s versatility.

Alice In Chains – “Man In The Box” (1990)

Closing our list is Alice In Chains’ “Man In The Box,” a grunge anthem that captures the intensity and raw power of the genre, cementing its place as a timeless rock classic.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – “Walk on the Ocean” (1991)

Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Walk on the Ocean” is a melodic masterpiece that combines folk-rock sensibilities with introspective lyrics, creating a soothing yet compelling listening experience.

Bush – “Comedown” (1994)

Bush makes a third appearance with “Comedown,” another hit from their debut album. This grunge-tinged track showcases the band’s ability to craft anthemic rock songs that resonate across generations.

Candlebox – “Far Behind” (1993)

“Far Behind” by Candlebox is a soulful and emotive rock ballad that captures the essence of the early ’90s grunge scene. Kevin Martin’s powerful vocals and the song’s emotional depth make it a standout.

Better Than Ezra – “Good” (1995)

Better Than Ezra’s “Good” is an infectious alt-rock anthem that blends catchy hooks with introspective lyrics. It’s a feel-good track that deserves a spot among the great rock songs of the ’90s.

Temple of the Dog – “Hunger Strike” (1991)

A supergroup featuring members of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog produced the timeless “Hunger Strike.” The collaboration of Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder results in a dynamic and powerful rock duet.


As we journey through the annals of rock history, these forgotten gems emerge as a testament to the genre’s enduring power. Whether you’re rediscovering them or hearing them for the first time, these songs continue to resonate with the essence of the eras that birthed them. So, plug in your headphones, turn up the volume, and let the echoes of these timeless rock tunes transport you through the last 40 years of musical brilliance.

Mick Pacholli

Mick created TAGG - The Alternative Gig Guide in 1979 with Helmut Katterl, the world's first real Street Magazine. He had been involved with his fathers publishing business, Toorak Times and associated publications since 1972.  Mick was also involved in Melbourne's music scene for a number of years opening venues, discovering and managing bands and providing information and support for the industry. Mick has also created a number of local festivals and is involved in not for profit and supporting local charities.        

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