50 Songs Everyone Over 50 Should Own

I don’t like AARP. I don’t like that they are an insurance company masquerading as an association for seniors; I don’t like that they claim to represent us when they don’t; I don’t like that they promote ObamaCare and its billions in cuts in MediCare in order to line their own filthy, greedy, pockets; I don’t like their support for liberal causes like “Network Neutrality” that have nothing to do with seniors; and I don’t like their fawning praise for entertainers who despise America and everything that it stands for.

Nonetheless, I sometimes get suckered into looking at the AARP web site, with articles that offer such interesting titles as “16 Songs Everyone Over 50 Should Own.” The list is written by someone named Jacquelyn Mitchard, who appears to be a best-selling author of books I have never heard of. Her picks are likewise songs I have never heard of, despite decades in the radio business and as a media person. Perhaps it is because I am not enamored of the sturm-and-drang, lesbian love, dark view of life, or awful cuts from the second side of the album. Or perhaps I am just never, despite my years and wisdom, ever going to be a middle-aged liberal.

You can find her list here, if you are feeling overly liberal or suicidal, or both.

Still, I have my own list of music that the 50-something crowd should own, and my own reasons for the list. Herewith are my entries, geared to those born after 1955:

  1. Everyday. Buddy Holly had a lot of other hits, but never a song that so easily captured the roller coaster that is love.
  2. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Done by the Platters, this is the ultimate slow-dance song and as good an explanation of love as any you will ever hear.
  3. True Love Never Runs Smooth. Gene Pitney was perhaps the most accomplished singer of his day. Better known for his commercial hits such as “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” this is still his best song.
  4. The Reverend Mr. Black. The Kingston Trio finally charts with a hit after “Tom Dooley” with this folk song. A winner.
  5. The Twist. This song by “Chubby” Checker went to number one in 1960, and again in 1962. It may have single-handedly launched the chiropractic industry, but we loved every minute of it.
  6. I Fall To Pieces. Patsy Cline topped the country charts with this heartbreaker, reminding the rest of us that country music even existed after Hank Williams died.
  7. Where The Boys Are. The Connie Francis theme to the movie of the same name, this is perhaps the greatest tribute ever to the lost innocence of the early Sixties sand the yearning for love.
  8. Wonderful World. Sam Cooke’s sweet tribute to high school love and the perils of academics. “Chain Gang” may have been a bigger hit, but this is nicer.
  9. Poor Little Fool. Rick Nelson joined with master guitarist James Burton to produce a song Nelson despised…but it is still one of his best. Other contenders are “Teenage Idol” and “Travelin’ Man.” In his heyday, he outsold Elvis Presley. The better Nelson song is “Fools Rush In.”
  10. Sealed With A Kiss. Brian Hyland’s tribute to lovers who spend the summer apart was a monster pull on the heartstrings. Though from the same year I personally favor Richard Chamberlain singing the theme to Dr. Kildare (“Three Stars Will Shine Tonight”), I have to go with SWAK.
  11. Be True to Your School. The Beach Boys, hot off the surf and racing cycle, with an anthem to high school sports. Love the cheer-leaders in the background.
  12. Puff The Magic Dragon. The first tribute to the essence of marijuana and the loss of childhood, and the ultimate tome by Peter, Paul and Mary. Topped the charts and our hearts.
  13. She Loves You. 1964…along with 1958 and 1969…would become known as the three greatest years of early rock ‘n roll. This wasn’t to top-selling introductory song by the Beatles (“I Want to Hold Your Hand” took that honor), but it was the song that stroked our hearts.
  14. You Can’t Hurry Love. Dianna Ross and the Supremes at their best. They had a lot of hits, but this and “You Keep Me Hanging On” define them.
  15. You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man. Loretta Lynn, putting the basic proposition on the line.
  16. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. The Rolling Stones, beating their way past the Beatles and onto the charts, captured perfectly the dissatisfaction and frustration of a generation of teens. There were better songs that year, but none more seminal. Runners Up have to include “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” and “My Girl.”
  17. Different Drum. Linda Ronstadt’s debut, and her tribute to independent womanhood.
  18. Turn, Turn, Turn. The Byrds take a folk song, add a drum beat and a rock rhythm, and single-handedly launch the folk-rock explosion. Dismissed as just another band in their day, the Byrds are today recognized as one of the most important bands of the Sixties.
  19. When A Man Loves A Woman. Percy Sledge, with the slow and sultry tribute to loving. From the man’s POV, of course.
  20. Kicks. It was the year of “Monday, Monday,” “Cherish,” “California Dreaming” and “Wild Thing,” but the most important song was the hit by The Raiders. The first ever song to talk about the horrors of drug addiction and the need to break free. Steppenwolf would repeat the theme later with “Snow Blind Friend,” but the Raiders were the first to chart an anti-drug song.
  21. I’m A Believer. Neil Diamond’s hit for a made-up studio band nonetheless climbed to the top of the Billboard charts and established the Monkees forever as the band mostly likely to be swooned to by girls in their early teens. Ladies, you would have been in fifth grade this year, and you would have swooned.
  22. Coming Back To Me. Grace Slick got all of the headlines for Jefferson Airplane, but it was co-founder Paul Kantner’s haunting music that made Surrealistic Pillow one of the greatest rock albums of all time. If you can’t get laid to this song, you can’t get laid. Follow it up with “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel…
  23. Sounds of Silence. The folk-rock anthem of the Sixties that addresses the lack of communication in life. Simon and Garfunkel before they went folk-rock.
  24. Hey, Jude. If you have never sung the full 27 minute chorus of this song, you were not a child of the Sixties. Perhaps the most sung Beatles song ever.
  25. Garden Party. You have to love Ricky Nelson, who had more hits than Elvis. But when they boo’d him off the stage at Madison Square Garden, he wrote the best revenge song ever. “If all I have is memories, I’d rather drive a truck. And its all right now…”
  26. Light My Fire. Let’s be honest, Jim Morrison was no great poet and the Doors were not much of a band, but in 1969 they reigned the music world. “She lives on Love Street” may qualify as the dumbest song lyrics of all time, but we loved it back in the day…
  27. One. Three Dog Night. Okay, you thought I might pick “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies, the top song of 1969, but let’s be honest…this year belonged to Three Dog Night. One is the loneliest number…
  28. House At Pooh Corner. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had other, greater hits. But this one strikes at the heart of childhood. “Back to the days of Pooh…”
  29. ABC. The Jackson Five hit the charts, unremarkable but for the debut of Michael Jackson. This one highlights his young voice best, and sets him up to become the force in music that he was.
  30. Me and Bobby McGee. Janis Joplin, at her deep, whiskey-throated best. Not the best song she ever did, but one of them.
  31. American Pie. Don Maclean’s paean to the history of Rock and Roll. So bye, bye Miss American Pie, Drove My Chevy To the Levy but the Levy Was Dry…
  32. Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree. Okay, so Tony Orlando’s song about a prisoner returning home was a pretty minor hit. But with the POWs returning from the Hanoi Hilton and national chagrin at the antics of the likes of Jane Fonda, this became a seminal American tribute to those who served.
  33. Time In A Bottle. Jim Croce’s gentle folk style took the country by storm, and this is his tribute to love. Smooch to it…
  34. At Seventeen. Janis Ian’s lament to the girls who didn’t get asked out…well, damn. It is simply one of the finest songs of the era, and a reminder that those who suffer in junior high very often become interesting and successful ladies in their fifties…
  35. That’s Rock and Roll. Okay, David Cassidy would make a bigger hit of this, but the original belonged to Eric Carmen. And while you are listening to this, take a quick listen to “All By Myself” as well. That’s rock and ro-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-ll!
  36. Making Love Out Of Nothing At All. Air Supply. The guys from Down Under, with one of their soft-rock hits.
  37. Hotel California. You can check in here, but you can’t check out. The Eagles. ‘Nuff said.
  38. Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw. David Allen Coe’s anthem to our generation, re-done by Jimmy Buffet. Learn to love the Coe version.
  39. We Are the Champions / We Will Rock You. Queen. If I have to explain this, I give up.
  40. YMCA. Okay, they were gay, they were ostentatious. No one cared. The Village People own this song, and we loved it.
  41. Waylon and Willie and Me. Another anthem by David Allen Coe, about the outlaws who built Texas music. “The say the Burritos out in California could fly higher than the Byrds…”
  42. Escape (The Pina Colada Song). Rupert Holmes’ hit about love lost and found is a favorite with the ladies, and for good reason. “Oh, I never knew…that you like Pina Coladas…”
  43. Lady. Kenny Rogers. And Country begins to make a comeback…
  44. Making Love Out of Nothing At All. Air Supply, which may have been the most bubble-gummish Aussie band of all times, nonetheless scored a hit with this.
  45. The Power Of Love. Huey Lewis and the News scored this hit because of its theme-role in “Back To The Future,” but it stands well on its own.
  46. The Time of My Life. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. The theme to “Dirty Dancing.” ‘Nuff said.
  47. What About Love? Wilson Phillips and Heart, tearing out the hearts of workaholics everywhere.
  48. I will Always Love You. Whitney Houston had the chart-topper, from the movie “The Bodyguard.” But the much better version was the 1974 original, written by Dolly Parton when she was leaving her mentor Porter Waggoner. They would not allow that version on the sound track of the movie, of course. Either version is sweet, but the one to own ia Parton’s.
  49. I Cross My Heart. George Strait’s movie anthem to love.
  50. Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? Alan Jackson, and 9-11.

There are other songs that are equally important, but these are the ones that stay on my list. Not one about suicides, gay love, depression or hatred of our country. That’s just the way I am.


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