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

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

Never Let You Go

Monday morning, Brooklyn’s own The Five Discs with John Carbone on lead. While they never had any big commercial successes, this once inter-racial group was recognized by other Doo-Woopers as one of the great purveyors of that kind of song.

Thanks to YouTuber PJDooWop

Laughter In The Rain: Neil Sedaka

Monday morning, after a miserable wet weekend here in New York, Neil Sedaka (still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!) seems well-nigh giddy, and doesn’t seem to mind that his auditory hallucinations are compounding rapidly.

Thanks to YouTuber H. Memo Rhein

Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On The Bedpost Over Night)?

Monday morning, Lonnie Donegan and his Skiffle group. I was the proud owner of that 45 on Dot Records, back in 1961.

Thanks to YouTuber the45prof

The Song In Every Musical That No One Likes

The very clever Sarah Smallwood Parsons sings a truth universally acknowledged, to hilarious effect.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber CharactersWelcome

“Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie”

Monday Morning, Don McLean in a great re-make of “American Pie,” fifty years later. At last, all the verses again–not like the awful truncated version from Madonna. McLean is accompanied by the wonderful acapella group, Home Free. As always, not an instrument in sight; all the percussion you hear are mouth sounds from band member Adam Rupp, in the short-sleeve purple T-shirt. See here if you don’t believe it.

Once, when McLean was asked what the song meant, he replied, “It means I’ll never have to work again if I don’t want to.”

Click on the image to play.

More at Home Free

Home Free Drum Kit

The amazing Adam Rupp of the a capella song group Home Free provides the percussion for the singers. In this phenomenal “drum solo” he proves to the audience that there’s no drum kit up his sleeve, and that it’s all done vocally.

More at Home Free

Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream)

Monday morning: what could be. The Chords had a hit with this song in 1954. Ever-Reliable Wikipedia tells us it was the first doo-wop song to make it into the top ten of the pop charts.

Click on the image to view the video.

Thanks to YouTuber BearWalken

If I Only Had A Brain

Ray Bolger and Judy Garland, 25 years after their first meeting as The Scarecrow and Dorothy Gale from Kansas.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber The Vintage Archive