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COMMUNITY VOICE

As a music aficionado older than 50, here's my list of favorite songs

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 12:01 am

Someone sent me a list compiled by a Jacquelyn Mitchard, who is billed as a best-selling author. Her list is of “16 Songs Everyone Over 50 Must Own.”

Well, let me tell you, I am way over 50 and there isn’t one song on her list I care to own, and none of my selections are on hers. She even picked the wrong Beatles song! And why 16? I don’t know, but ever since, I have been working on a list of songs I feel it necessary to own and listen to and listen to and listen to again.

My list starts off with Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” Many persons I know prefer Artie Shaw’s recording of it, but if I had to pick just one, I’d say Nat “King” Cole’s version gets it just right. How can “Stardust” not be on a list of people over 50?

“My Funny Valentine” is another “must.” It’s from the musical “Pal Joey,” and it is a keeper. Frank Sinatra recorded it, even though in the film it belongs to one of the women.

The words are lovely poetry, and the music is haunting – and few singers can do with a song what Frankie did. I think I ought to put his rendition of “Chicago” on my list, too.

I feel like that about Barbra Streisand. A lot of singers have recorded “The Way We Were,” but I like her version best. Maybe that’s because it’s tied up with the film. But my favorite Streisand song is “Poppa, Can You Hear Me?” That’s from her film “Yentl.” Have you seen it? Mandy Patinkin is in it, also, and he’s blessed with a voice, even now, all these years later.

Then, of course, there is the Beatles regime. They were so prolific! And narrowing it down is a task, but “Yesterday” stands out, and it’s my favorite Beatles song and it definitely belongs on a list of favorites.

Rodgers and Hammerstein and George Gershwin wrote many immortal songs. How many can one pick? I think the “Soliloquy” from “Carousel” is one of the most affecting pieces of music I’ve ever heard performed. The first time I heard it was in the original New York production, and it was sung by John Raitt, Bonnie’s dad.

When he finished singing it and hurried off the stage, the tears were making their way down my cheeks. And hearing “Summertime,” from “Porgy and Bess,” can do that to me, also.

Judy Garland performed magic with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” And who could leave off her daughter’s singing “New York, New York”?

“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” is not the most grammatical, but it surely is one of the most effective laments. Cole Porter couldn’t go wrong, and I guess “Night and Day” with its beat, beat, beat should be on my list. Then there’s a little known tango, “Tu Sais”: It’s from my college days but still makes the blood gallop through arteries and veins.

And the list could go on and on — but not with “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis, which is on Jacquelyn’s list. So is “Lately,” by Stevie Wonder and “God Only Knows,” by the Beach Boys.

Oh, how could I forget “September Song”? That truly is a favorite, especially as recorded by the original singer in the musical, Walter Huston. He doesn’t really sing it: He talks it through, and he breaks my heart every time I hear it. (Poor heart. It seems to break rather easily, doesn’t it? But that’s what music can do.)

So there are my songs. I’m going to limit you to five because of space. If you are 50 or older, what makes your list? Please let me know.

Betty E. Stein is a retired teacher.