Musical interlude

              With my birthday coming up, I suppose I have a little leeway to take the proverbial trip                          down memory lane and riff a little about the great songs.

               I was actually talking about this with a colleague the other day, and we were both doing a little  serving and volleying on the topic of lyrics – how the songs we grew up with always had such memorable lyrics and the songs today seem to be so trite – even there are even recognizable lyrics at all.

We were impressing ourselves a lot, I must say – and it wasn’t until later that I had to admit that some of my favorites go back to the doo-wop era and that it’s hard to make a case that there is anything really profound about such examples as…

I met him on  a Monday and my heart stood still,   

Da doo ron ron ron, da doo ron ron,

Somebody told me that his name was Bill,

Da door ron ron ron, da doo ron ron…

Idiotic, yes – but it was a massive hit for the Crystals in 1963. So I won’t pretend that all the music that I liked was high art. (“Ahhhhh…yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm get a job” – anybody remember The Coasters?) But on balance I do think there were more great songs – singable songs, with lyrics you could remember and a melody you could play (if badly) on a guitar or piano – than what I hear today.

Here’s my Top 20 favorites.

I imposed some rules on myself in making up the list. First, in order to be included, a song has to be one that I heard performed during the lifetime of the singer. In other words, it couldn’t be one for which I reached back into the 1920’s or 1930’s, and from a singer who had passed on by the time I heard it. Second, only one song per artist. (I could do an entire list of just CCR or Linda Ronstadt or The Beatles, obviously). Also…

– I didn’t include folk music or show tunes (would have listed at least four songs from Cabaret alone)

– I kept  bluegrass/country to a bare minimum (worth its own separate list or multiple lists, because it’s probably my favorite music)

– I resisted the temptation to include Don Corleone’s wife singing ‘Che La Lune‘ (a scene I have enjoyed hundreds of times)

Anyway, with all those caveats, here we go:

1. Stardust – Nat King Cole – my choice for #1 song of all time

2. Johnny B Goode – Chuck Berry

3. Let It Be – The Beatles

4. Lodi – Creedence Clearwater Revival

5. Honkytonk Women – The Rolling Stones

6. Cadillac Ranch – Bruce Springsteen

7. San Francisco Bay Blues – Eric Clapton

8. Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen

9. Yakkety Yak – The Coasters

10. Help Me Rhonda – The Beach Boys

11. When Will I Be Loved – Linda Ronstadt

12. Boulder to Birmingham – Emmylou Harris

13. Only the Lonely – Roy Orbison

14. Jackson – Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

15. I’ll Be Seeing You – a million people did this, and it didn’t matter who it was because the song is so great, but I like Frank Sinatra’s rendition and also Billie Holliday

16. Creeque Alley – The Mamas and the Papas

17. All Shook Up – Elvis Presley

18. Into the Mystic – Van Morrison

19. Little Darlin’ – The Diamonds

20. Independence Day – Martina McBride


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. Vice President, Zoomer Media Ltd. . Author of "The New Old" . 30 years experience in marketing communications, advertising, media . Speaker, writer, commentator on the revolution in aging and how to market to Boomers and seniors

3 thoughts on “Musical interlude”

  1. Interesting David. But the best song ever was Bridge Over Troubled Water! Then of course where’s Buddy Holly on your list? Where’s Brenda Lee? How about Patsy Kline – John Denver?…you focused on a nice variety but come on David – Johnny Cash over Buddy Holly? I disagree with your Elvis choice – he did much better than that – try Love Me Tender. Lest we forget Connie Francis – Where the Boys Are.

  2. I’ve never undertaken the challenge of creating my own top-20 song list and admire you for even trying. We Boomers were surrounded by so many great songs, and although some songs had nonsensical lyrics, many of the best were profound social and political statements, very much connected to the challenges of our times in youth. I’m thinking of, for example, “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield (an antiwar anthem) or “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (a song in protest of the Kent State killings on May 4, 1970) or “Fortunate Son” by Credence Clearwater Revival (a song in protest of the Vietnam War). These are not inane songs with trivial lyrics. However, as a marketer, David, you’ll be interested in new research findings recently reported in “The New York Times”: narcissism has increased significantly in song lyrics in the last three decades.

    We grew up with many great songs that addressed larger issues of common concern. Today’s song lyrics are trending toward, “It’s all about me because I’m wonderful.” As a generation, we have much to be proud of, and many of our greatest lyricists/poets captured the passions and higher purposes of our youth through memorable melodies.

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