If you’re running a streamlined preventive maintenance program with solid planning, scheduling, prioritizing, and tracking, everything is so predictable that work gets a bit boring. But if you’re struggling with your maintenance schedule, never sure what’s going to go wrong next or how you’re going to fix it, every day wears you down just a little bit more. 

Either way, you need some good classic songs to help you through the next set of maintenance inspections and tasks, to make the boring more fun and the frustrating more bearable. So, here’s our list of the best classic rock for maintenance strategies, inspections, and tasks. The last thing we want to do is encourage OSHA violations, so our advice is to sing the songs or hum the tunes yourself instead of listening to them. Remember, it’s critical to stay safe, which means keeping your hearing protected and your ears open. 

Run-to-failure maintenance 

It’s tough getting the respect you deserve as a maintenance strategy when you have “failure” right there in your name, but run-to-failure maintenance is the best choice for assets, equipment, or parts that are non-critical, hard to inspect and maintain, and easy and cheap to carry in inventory. The classic example is light bulbs. 

Queen and Another One Bites the Dust 

Queen perfectly captures the inevitability of things failing apart with this shout-worthy chorus. Yes, another one is gone, another one bit the dust. Just like the last time. 

Oddly, the verses have something to do with a guy named Steve and kicking people when they’re down but ignore that completely and focus on the comforting inevitability that things break, it’s a part of life, and you can and will make it through. How can we be so sure? All the times in the past something bit the dust but you’re still here. 

Whitesnake and Here I Go Again 

OK, just like in most of these songs, he’s singing about a sour relationship. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also apply to maintenance. In fact, “Here I go again” is exactly what you tell yourself when faced with yet another maintenance issue you promised you’d make sure to avoid. 

In the original version, he sings: 

I don’t know where I’m going 

But I sure know where I’ve been 

Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday 

And I’ve made up my mind 

I ain’t wasting no more time 

Here I go again, here I go again 

Translating the lyrics into Maintenance-ese, you get: 

No idea what’s going to go wrong next 

But so much has already failed 

I told myself I’d get ahead of this 

And promised myself I’s stop wasting time 

But here I go again, being reactive instead of proactive 

We’re including this one hoping you don’t ever have to sing it again. Or, if you do, next time it’s about a frustrating relationship with a model who dances on the hood of your expensive car just like in the famous music video. 

Preventive maintenance 

The key to getting out ahead of the maintenance curve is a schedule of inspections and tasks that help you find and fix small issues before they have a chance to become expensive problems. It’s always going to be faster, cheaper, and much less stressful to check the oil on an engine than even think about repairing a seized engine. 

The problem with finding a good musical match is that most songs are about falling in and then out of love. Not a lot of people put to music that time they saw some red flags early in the relationship and called it quits before things got bad. Remember, Bon Jovi sings, “Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame,” not “Dodged that bullet and feel pretty proud of myself.”  

The Who and Won’t Get Fooled Again 

That said, The Who’s classic about the overall pointlessness of revolutions has a great title for preventive maintenance. Because just like when you implement a robust preventive maintenance plan, you’re looking at the asset’s maintenance and repairs histories, recommended maintenance service schedule, and failure modes to create a schedule of inspections and tasks that ensure unexpected failures never have a chance to surprise you again. 

The trick here is to totally ignore the depressing nihilism of all the other lyrics and instead focus on that one line, Won’t get fooled again!  

Condition-based maintenance 

If you’re not doing enough proactive maintenance, small issues have a chance to grow into budget-busting problems. But is it possible to do too much? Can you over-maintain assets and equipment? Unfortunately, you can, which leads to you swapping in parts and throwing out materials long before you’ve got all their value from them. It’s too much, too soon. 

With condition-based maintenance, you use a collection of carefully placed sensors on your assets and equipment to constantly check for indications of dropping performance or impending failure. You can use sensors to monitor various variables, including: 

  • Temperature 
  • Vibration 
  • Sound 
  • Flow
  • Current

It’s al about keeping a constant eye on your assets and equipment.

The Police and Every Breath You Take 

The story goes that Sting was originally trying to write a love song, only realizing later that he’s penned the perfect example of obsessive stalking.

Regardless of the song’s dark history, it’s great for singing while checking out the constant streams of data coming in from your asset-based sensors. 

Predictive maintenance 

With condition-based maintenance, you’re connected to what’s happening right now. But with predictive, you’re able to see the future. Instead of checking the current temperature or level of vibration, for example, you’re pushing that constant stream of data through a sophisticated algorithm that makes predictions about future failures. Instead of telling you the asset is running at X degrees, your maintenance software can tell you the asset is going to go offline on X date. 

Of course, it’s a great piece of technology, the practical application of a lot of cool science. But just like a lot of cutting-edge technology, it does sort of look like magic. 

Steppenwolf and Magic Carpet Ride 

Which is why you should be singing Magic Carpet Ride when you’re looking over your predictive maintenance program. 

With lyrics like: 

Well, you don’t know what we can see 

Why don’t you tell your dreams to me 

Fantasy will set you free 

Close your eyes, girl 

Look inside, girl 

Let the sound take you away 

Not 100% what that sound he’s singing about is, but hopefully it’s one of your assets or pieces of equipment purring away perfectly.  

Work order management 

And from maintenance strategies, we can move to classic songs for different maintenance inspections and tasks. 

A good maintenance work order has everything the maintenance team needs to work efficiently, ensuring they arrive on site with everything they need, including: 

  • Asset maintenance and repair histories 
  • Associated parts and materials 
  • Step-by-step instructions 
  • Customized checklists
  • Digital images and manuals 

It’s like someone who cares about them sat down and wrote out detailed advice on how to be successful. 

Lynyrd Skynyrd and Simple Man 

Just like this famous song from Lynyrd Skynyrd, where the singer’s mother lays out a plan for her son to be simple and successful.

There’s not a lot of advice in there directly related to maintenance, not even “lefty loosey righty tighty,” but the song remains a great example of how to five advice people remember.

Kenny Rogers and The Gambler 

And here in this classic where Rogers gives some great advice on both poker and life. Oddly enough, it’s also great advice on making those difficult repair-or-replace decisions on aging assets. 

Rogers explains that: 

You got to know when to hold ’em  

Know when to fold ’em 

Know when to walk away and know when to run

Honestly, it’s not a great title for a song related to maintenance, because the last thing you want to do is gamble with your assets and equipment. No one’s looking for a maintenance manager who claims everything they know they learned playing cards. 

Inventory control 

Depending on the industry and the organization, “shrinkage” can be a large part of inventory control. Basically, the more valuable the parts and materials, the more people worry about them going missing. 

But with the right inventory tracking software, you know exactly what you have and where it is. When someone on the team closes out a work order, the levels for the associated parts automatically update. As soon as you hit the customized par level, the software sends you a notification and automates a lot of the purchase order process. 

Johnny Cash and One Piece at a Time 

Which means that this is the one song on the list where the singer is sort of the bad guy. 

Cash explains his master plan:  

I’d sneak it out of there in a lunchbox in my hand 

Now gettin’ caught meant gettin’ fired 

But I figured I’d have it all by the time I retired 

I’d have me a car worth at least a hundred grand 

In the end, he has to cobble together parts from different years, leading to the counting chorus: 

Well, it’s a ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’55, ’56 

’57, ’58’ 59′ automobile 

It’s a ’60, ’61, ’62, ’63, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’67 

’68, ’69, ’70 automobile 

There’s also a fun music video out there of him acting out the story, but we didn’t use to it because the sound quality was so bad. But if you’re a fan of Cash’s acting, it’s worth tracking down.


For every maintenance strategy and task, there’s that song that helps make the work a little lighter. For run-to-failure maintenance, the chorus from Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust makes changing light bulbs and swapping out non-critical parts tons more fun. And no song matches condition-based maintenance more perfectly that Every Breath You Take by The Police.  From preventive and predictive maintenance to work order management and inventory control, there are those perfect “theme songs.” And just like you can perfectly pair strategies, inspections, and tasks to songs, maintenance always matches a modern enterprise asset management (EAM) solution. It makes work so much better by automating data capture, creating and maintaining a central source of truth updated in real time, and making all your data accessible from anywhere, so the right people get the right information, right on time.

About the author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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