In the grand scheme of rock and roll instruments, keyboards really aren't considered all that cool. If you think that it's hard for your self esteem as a bass player, just imagine trying to be the big bad rockstar while you're sitting behind this gigantic piano. That's not to say that the piano doesn't have it's fair share of highlights in the world of rock and roll.
Before the guitar had even become the customary instrument, this was what originally brought the boogie into rock and roll, working off the rest of the instruments in a far more natural way. Though the guitar is a lot more practical since its slung across your back, the keyboard does give a bit more sophistication to a song, making the whole thing sound a lot more grandiose than just a guitar would. Then again, you can also use the keyboard to tap into something a lot more primal in rock and roll.
You tend to forget that the piano is a percussion instrument, and having an instrument that you use only to beat the crap out of it is one of the most rock and roll things imaginable. The piano may have gone through its fair share of evolution since the dawn of rock and roll, but it's never worn out its welcome either, and on these tracks, it manages to give even the guitar a run for its money.
10. Southern Accents - Tom Petty
When Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were first starting to get their huge hits, most of the power behind their sound wasn't actually coming from the guitars. Going through songs like Free Fallin and Runnin Down a Dream, Petty clearly loves his six string, only for Benmont Tench to take over most of the time and bringing bits and pieces of piano led boogie into the mix. Rock isn't always about boogie though, and Southern Accents gave us a piano track that could bring people to their knees.
Coming off of the concept record of the same name, having just the piano lead this one makes you feel like you're in the room with Tom as he's singing this song, looking back on his upbringing in the American South and trying to sort out all of the hang-ups that he still has at his own stomping grounds. Though Petty gives a powerhouse performance, Benmont gives just the right kind of pulse behind everything, never getting in the way of Tom and serving as the perfect bed to tell this story.
From the minute that those piano keys strike at the beginning of the song, it almost brings you back to when you were young, trying to piece together bits and pieces of those old memories from years gone by. The perfect touch comes at the end when Benmont moves to the melody to the higher keys, as if you're looking at this memory slowly fading away. Rock has never been known as a subtle genre, but this might be the ultimate example of how you're supposed to serve the song.