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10 Best Night Songs

Frank Micelotta (2) / Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images
Narrowing down a list of the best night songs — that is, songs with the word “night” in the title — is quite a daunting task, since many classic rockers have each released one, if not several, great songs about what goes down when the sun's not up. We made it a bit easier on ourselves by ruling out titles featuring “midnight” or “tonight,” but we still think this list is going to start some fun arguments. So, without further adieu, we shed a little light on some of the greatest night songs in classic rock history.

Urban Cowboy Soundtrack


‘All Night Long’


From: ‘Urban Cowboy’ Soundtrack (1980)

This boot-scootin' little ditty from Joe Walsh makes our list of “night” songs because of its ability to fill a dance floor. Walsh took advantage of the growing country music explosion and offered his own hybrid of guitar rock mixed with just a dash of twang to land himself on the 'Urban Cowboy' soundtrack.


Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.


‘Spirit in the Night’


From: ‘Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.’ (1973)

'Spirit in the Night' is perfect for our list of night songs as the track was born in the wee hours, when some of the band had already excited for the evening. The final song penned for Bruce Springsteen's 'Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.' only featured sax player Clarence Clemons and drummer Vini Lopez, who happened to be around when it was time to record. Colorful characters such as Crazy Janey, Killer Joe, and Hazy Davy were woven into the story's tapestry.


Nuthin' Fancy


‘Saturday Night Special’


From: ‘Nuthin’ Fancy’ (1975)

There's no doubt that 'Saturday Night Special' is one of the best night songs around, though it has a little different inspiration behind it. The Lynyrd Skynyrd breakout track from the 'Nuthin' Fancy' album refers to a gun and the solution it can provide in dealing with a cheating spouse or a gambling partner.


Physical Graffiti


‘Night Flight’


From: ‘Physical Graffiti’ (1975)

Here's a song that definitely has it's share of adventure. Robert Plant has chalked up the track as the tale of a young man attempting to evade the draft. Though a favorite from the 'Physical Graffiti album, Led Zeppelin never played it live during their shows. However, there has been a bootleg of 'Night Flight' floating around over the years from a Chicago soundcheck. This song is one of few from the band not to feature a Jimmy Page guitar solo.


Goodbye Yellow Brick Road


‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’


From: ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ (1973)

This trouble-making song of a night out on the town was an easy choice for our list. It's one of Elton John's harder rocking tracks, and was influenced by the glam sound of the time. Songwriter Bernie Taupin has explained that the song's lyrics are a reflection of his youth and the fights that used to happen at his local pub.


Van Halen II


‘Dance the Night Away’


From: ‘Van Halen II’ (1979)

Van Halen's contribution to our list of night songs comes in the form of one of their more enduring hits, 'Dance the Night Away.' David Lee Roth stated during a show in San Diego that he had penned the track about an intoxicated woman who was having sex in the back of a truck. She apparently fled the police with her pants on backwards into the bar where the group had been playing. Now, THAT was a night.


Night Moves


‘Night Moves’


From: ‘Night Moves’ (1976)

Bob Seger's 'Night Moves' makes our list as the track that might best actually represent the evening hours. Seger has stated that his song was inspired by Bruce Springsteen's 'Jungleland,' and told the tales of his own youth. On the creative side, the song came about so quickly in the studio that only Seger's bassist and drummer remained. Producer Jack Richardson was left to recruit a few fill-in players to record the track.


A Hard Day's Night


‘A Hard Day’s Night’


From: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964)

Forget Yogi Berra! Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was also a master of the malaprop. It was Starr who coined the phrase that would lead to one of the band's biggest hits and would also title their album and movie of the same name. Starr explained of 'A Hard Day's Night,' “We went to do a job, and we'd worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, 'It's been a hard day… and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, '…night!' So we came to 'A Hard Day's Night.'”


Between the Buttons


‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’


From: ‘Between the Buttons’ (1967)

This track was once, temporarily, not a night song, as it's lyrics became the source of controversy. The band were asked not to play their current single during an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, due to its suggestive nature. Eventually a compromise was struck, with Mick Jagger singing 'Let's Spend Some Time Together' instead. The singer's eye-rolling during the performance earned the group a brief ban from Sullivan's show, but the track would survive the controversy and live on for many nights to come.


Back in Black


‘You Shook Me All Night Long’


From: ‘Back in Black’

When it comes to night songs, AC/DC's 1980 classic 'You Shook Me All Night Long' has to be king. Singer Brian Johnson, who had just joined the band for the 'Back in Black' album, has stated that the song was penned about spending a night with a beautiful woman. There's genius in simplicity, isn't there?


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