Is the endurance of "Reaper" starting to factor into its rank in these lists? Maybe.
I think endurance is probably a big factor. Other songs that are "out of sight - out of mind": out of minds aren't gonna make it.
I've seen lots of lists "Best xxx Songs" that include DFTR, most don't say what their criteria is.
But looking at a few categories, DFTR is definitely enduring:
1. Take a look at IMDB. Searching for "Don't Fear the Reaper" turned up a ridiculous number, so I did a quick browse and a lot were false positives. So I looked for "Donald Roeser" in a soundtrack category and I got a more comfortable number of 102, but which also include other songs like Godzilla, Burnin', etc. Probably a safe bet that the number of MISSED uses are more than then number of other songs. An "endurance" indicator to me is not so much the total, but the year the song was used in a soundtrack. 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, etc. going back. At least one 2023 reference is missing. You can attempt to get the list at: www.imdb.com/name/nm1325081/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1 (you might have to remove the space character and type the url by hand)
You have to fiddle with a couple of the results "settings" so I included a screenshot of what I used.
2. No way to get a total, but book titles and other references in recent works (say the last 10 years). I keep stumbling on them.
3. YouTube covers. Here's the latest one, put up 9 hours ago. (I always thought DFTR would make a "good" wedding reception song, but the brides parents might not approve.) :) The take away is that these things keep coming. Some are stupid. Some are really good. But if the song wasn't special to whoever did the cover, it wouldn't exist. DFTR endures.
4. "The Cowbell". Love it or hate it: "More Cowbell!" is still commonly used. Some people may not know the origin, but for the rest hearing the phrase keeps "DFTR" alive in their mind.
5. Speaking of YouTube covers, there are also recently unloaded DFTR "references". Some might be re-posts of previous posts, but the song was important enough for somebody to create an upload. Dare someone to count the number of "legitimate" ones uploaded in the last year.
6. Local radio station here still plays it off and on, LOTS around halloween.
My wife tells me it's time to quit, but I think you get my point. DFTR endures in multiple arenas. Nice reminders for "list makers".
Some hits can become somewhat tiring after decades of play. Not DFTR.
Good point, and the tiring ones are mainly from overplay, I'd think. I never have to hear Walk This Way, Dream On, or Hotel California again, to name three of mine. I'd say the top 50 classic rock radio tracks are worn out to my ear. My thirst for good music didn't end in 1979. OTOH, when a Thin Lizzy song comes on, I want to hear it. I'm liking the Jimmy Miller Rolling Stones records lately.
Not to diminish the value of the rock classics to youngsters who have not yet listened to any of them for the last 50 years. Reaper has always gotten airplay, but wasn't overplayed. Too creepy. : )
It must be tremendously satisfying to have Reaper on your resume. It's not a simple song either, it's complex, even groundbreaking, both musically and lyrically.
And you were what, 25 or 26 years old when you wrote it?
Big kudos, man.
Probably most original and unique rock song ever. Resonates with such a diverse audience and is simultaneously a little dark and hopeful. Not sure what Buck intended but damn....the result was brilliant! And it deserves longevity!