The title caught my attention . . . 16 Songs Everyone Over 50 Should Own. Being over fifty I was curious to see what this particular author, Jacquelyn Mitchard, thought I should own. I was also curious to see how my own musical taste as an old fogey would stack up with . . . what I assume was another old fogey . . . and, maybe even an old fogey who knew what she was talking about. Unfortunately I think that Ms. Mitchard really did not know what in the world she was talking about. I only had half of the songs . . . eight . . . she suggested. Plus of the eight that I did have, only six of them were songs that a person must have. To say the least, the list was lacking . . . and, she caught a lot of heat from those who read the article on the AARP website.
Of the seven artists that I did not have in my collection of songs necessary for anyone over the age of fifty: Frank Sinatra (Once Upon a Time), Stevie Wonder (Lately), Dionne Warwick (A House is Not a Home), Joni Mitchell (Little Green—though I have quite a bit of Joni Mitchell, this is not one of them), Coolio (Gangsta’s Paradise—I’d have to have died and gone to hell before I would have had any rap), AC/DC (You Shook Me All Night Long), and George Jones (He Stopped Loving Her Today). Now, granted, I have never been a big Frank Sinatra or Stevie Wonder fan . . . I like Dionne Warwick, but not enough to be stranded on an island with only her music . . . AC/DC was okay, but there were better big-hair and donker donker bands . . . and, I never like George Jones because there was just something icky about him. Outside of Joni Mitchell, which Ms. Mitchard picked the wrong song, these are not normally artists I would listen to if I had to. The eighth one, the Beach Boys . . . again, it was just her choice . . . God Only Knows pales in comparison to Barbara Ann . . . especially after a few beers.
On the other hand, I was surprised that the author actually picked a few songs that I love: Harvest Moon by Neil Young; Landslide by Stevie Nicks; Hotel California by the Eagles; C’est La Vie by Emmylou Harris; For What It’s Worth—Stop, Hey What’s That Sound by Buffalo Springfield; Crazy by Patsy Cline; Jailhouse Rock by Elvis (though there are much better Elvis songs, especially when he sang gospel); and the classic, In My Life by the Beatles. Apparently the author spent more than a few nights sitting in front of a eight-track player, sipping a beer, and listening to a few tunes by the light of the moon.
Sadly though, she left out so much.
As we get older, we old farts like to ponder our past lives . . . we like to remember the past. Who wouldn’t? As we get older we get better . . . and, so does the music we loved. Music we listened to under the covers of our blankets on those itty bitty transistor radios . . . music we cranked up in our dorm rooms while the people in the next room pounded on the wall . . . music we cruised the back roads, drinking beer, and looking for cows to tip . . . music in which we had our first kiss and beyond . . . music that marked an event or a place. Music . . . no matter what our age . . . defines us. And, even as we sneak past age fifty, music is important.
Missing from the author’s list were lots of people I listen to . . . Louis Armstrong . . . Billie Holiday . . . Linda Ronstadt . . . Elton John . . . Billie Joel . . . Simon and Garfunkel (together or alone) . . . Jackson Browne . . . the Rolling Stones . . . Little Feat . . . John Prine . . . Judy Collins . . . Bing Crosby . . . Doris Day . . . Dolly Parton . . . Johnny Cash . . . Waylon Jennings . . . Willie Nelson . . . Janis Joplin . . . Journey . . . Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (or any combination there of) . . . Fleetwood Mac . . . Joan Baez . . . John Mellencamp . . . Eric Clapton . . . U2 . . . and, many, many more. My old mind just cannot name all of them at once.
Also, the author makes the assumption that we old folks don’t like any of the new music that is out there today. I must admit that I have been spoiled as I have children who have made it their mission in life to keep their old man up to date on the latest music. I have lots of artists that I enjoy that they have exposed me to (and a few I have exposed them to): Elephant Revival . . . Jack Johnson . . . Amos Lee . . . the Avett Brothers . . . the Civil Wars . . . Band of Horses . . . Carolina Chocolate Drops . . . Mumford and Sons . . . and, lots of others that are making great music.
The author also left out a lot of great music that I enjoy listening to and that is in the category of musicals . . . where were the songs from the great musicals (or at least musicals that I enjoy) . . . like: Jesus Christ Superstar . . . Cats . . . Into the Woods . . . Fiddler on the Roof . . . West Side Story . . . Godspell . . . Rent . . . Oklahoma . . . and others that kept me tapping my toes as I sang along.
Well, credit for effort must be given to the author . . . she tried. Unfortunately, music is a taste like any other taste . . . and everyone has his or her own taste. It is not the same across the board . . . it varies from person to person. The fact is that not all of us like vanilla ice cream the best. I imagine that the list is different with each person who is asked to name the “must have” songs at age fifty. Shoot, she didn’t even have the Beer Barrel Polka or In Heaven There is No Beer . . . who can make it to age fifty without those two classics!
I love music. Because I love music, please do not dictate to me what I should and should not have in my music library. It is all good . . . well, for the most part . . . I still cannot stomach rap. Outside of that one blip, music is good and I have my own top sixteen list . . . actually it is more like top sixteen hundred. We all have our likes . . . what are your top songs in your life?