Your Top 50

My younger brother, David, who has a large family, was telling me how he loves to give his family various games to play at the dinner table at family occasions. At one point he proposed the following–what are your top 50 song recordings of all time? Here’s the caveat though–only one song allowed per artist (though we agreed you may choose The Beatles and a separate John Lennon solo song, for example). David’s family answers were fun to hear about, because his children range from their early teens to thirty.

After telling me about some of his own picks, David asked me about mine. So I thought about it for quite a while, and then I wrote up this list. It was tough! Because at some point I realized that there were lots of songs that used to mean a lot to me, but I haven’t heard them in a while. And often there were artists who were important to me, but no single song stood out. Also you could get trapped within one genre of music and leave out others that you had forgotten about. So my criteria became this: What songs could I not live without at this point? What songs, if you told me I could never hear them again, would make me feel sad?

There’s only one cheat here–#6, because technically the song was recorded while George was a Beatle. But the song is so identified with George, that I think I should be allowed to get away with it. I notice in shame almost no song is from after the 70s! If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll probably recognize more than a few here. Feel free to contribute your own list.

In no particular order:

1. If You Could Read My Mind–Gordon Lightfoot

2. My Favorite Things–John Coltrane

3. Hey Jude–Beatles

4. Famous Blue Raincoat–Leonard Cohen

5. Suzanne–Judy Collins

6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps–George H.

7. Like A  Rolling Stone–Dylan

8. All The Things You Are–Ella Fitzgerald

9.  If I Loved You–Carousel

10. Pleasures of the Harbor–Phil Ochs

11. God Only Knows–The Beach Boys

12. Tell Her No–The Zombies

13. Billy Jean—Michael J.

14. Satisfaction–Stones

15. Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying–Gerry and the Pacemakers

16. Runaround Sue–Dion

17. Stay–the original

18. The Weight–The Band

19. Dawn–The Four Seasons

20. Maria–West Side Story

21. If I had a Hammer–Pete Seeger or Peter Paul and Mary version

22. The Lion Sleeps Tonight–The Tokens

23. You Can’t Hurry Love–The Supremes

24. Good Morning Heartache–Billie Holiday

25. The Boxer–Simon and Garfunkel

26. Hearts and Bones–Paul Simon

27. 525,600 minutes–Rent

28. All I Want–Joni Mitchell

29. Reason to Believe–TIm Hardin

30. Maggie Mae–Rod Stewart

31. Killing Me Softly–Roberta Flack

32. The Harder They Come–Jimmy Cliff

33. Georgia–Ray Charles

34. You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling–The Righteous Brothers

35. A Change is Gonna Come–Sam Cooke

36. I Only Want To Be With You–Dusty Springfield

37. Summer’s End–John Prine

38. Stayin’ Alive–The Bee Gees

39. American Pie–Don McLean

40. Africa–Toto

41. Take Five–Dave Brubeck

42. Rhapsody in Blue–Gershwin

43. Midnight Train to Georgia–Gladys Knight and the Pips

44. Sweet Dreams are Made of This–Eurythmics

45. I Will Survive–Gloria Gaynor

46. It’s Too Late, Baby–Carole King

47.  Compared to What–Eddie Harris/Les McCann

48. Doctor My Eyes–Jackson Browne

49. Sweet Baby James–James Taylor

50. Do You Know The Way To San Jose?–Dionne Warwick

The Voyage

“Why I came here? Start the machine. I’ll tell you everything…Because the olive trees were bare, because the date trees gave no fruit…”

For the week of Father’s Day, A Fathers Day Fatherly Story. Performed by myself and Linda Shalom, as adapted from my novel, The New World, which begins with a Syrian-Jewish immigrant’s journey to this country at the turn of the 20th century.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear our tale, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

You Can Come To My House: Mike & Ruthy and the Mammals

Mike and Ruthy closing the 2019 Summer Hoot in Ashokan, New York. They’ll be back at it again August 27-29th.

More at The Mammals

Memoirs of a Misfit Ruler

Wherein we make like Marcel Proust and recall our humorous encounters with the trappings of power and authority in my local elementary school.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear our tale, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Mike Nichols, A Life: Part Two

Here’s Part Two of our Mark Harris interview about his wonderful new biography called Mike Nichols: A Life. In this part we focused on the director’s eclectic and fabled film career, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Graduate and Angels in America.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear part one of the interview Mark gave on Arts Express, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Part One is here:

Charles Grodin

Charles Grodin died last month. His mock feud segments with Johnny Carson were some of my favorite bits of impromptu comedy. Here’s a follow up visit by Grodin to Johnny that I posted a few years ago.

Thanks to YouTuber MyInnerEyeInterview2

Mike Nichols, A Life by Mark Harris: Part One

The Graduate, Angels in America, The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, The Gin Game, Hurley Burley, Silkwood, Postcards From The Edge, Heartburn, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Streamers, The Real Thing, Spamalot, Working Girl and more were all directed by the same man–Mike Nichols. In a career that spanned over fifty years simultaneously in both film and theater, Mike Nichols proved that he was one of America’s best directors. Now Mark Harris has written a comprehensive new biography of Nichols, which provides great insight into Nichols’ life and career. I had the pleasure of having a very enjoyable conversation with Mark about Nichols, who Mark knew well.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear part one of the interview Mark gave on Arts Express, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Part Two is here:

Disaster At The Astor

The newspapers blared the headlines: thousands of America Firsters and anti-immigrant bigots gathered in front of a building that should have been a symbol of free speech. The racists, fueled by economic distress brought on by rising income inequality, tried to storm the building. Of course the protesters wore their stupid hats so they could recognize each other.  And then the riot began…Who would have thought that in the month of May 1849 that a performance of a Shakespearean play could be so contentious?

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the rest of what happened during the Astor Place Riot by tuning into this talk I gave on Arts Express, broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.