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BY THE WAY

Your lists of best songs for those of us older than 50 add up to a lot more than 5

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 12:01 am

As soon as I pushed “Send” and my column was on its way in, I knew I had erred. I had omitted any mention of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “The Christmas Song,” as performed by Mel Torme.

The first one is from “Spamalot,” as you know, a fun-filled, music-filled stage delight. Granddaughter Lisa tells me the song first appeared in “The Life of Brian,” but I don't care: It just makes me bounce right along, agreeing with the sentiment.

The second: Well, Simon and Garfunkel have given us some beautiful pieces of music. This is just one.

And “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” creates a picture and warms the heart — and the season is really under way.

But this is not about me. Via email came a list of five songs that should be on the list of everyone over 50, and I agree with each of her choices.

By way of introduction, she wrote that she can weep during “Climb Every Mountain” and all the way through “Les Miserables.” So we know Mary Ann is sentimental, but isn't that an asset?

Anyway, she lists “At Last,” by “the marvelous Etta James.” Next is “I'll Be Home for Christmas,” followed by “You've Got to be Carefully Taught.” No. 4 is Paul McCartney's “Yesterday.” Concluding her choices is “There's a Place for Us,” from “West Side Story.”

But then she followed that up with a second email. There were five more songs she needed to include. “Spring Is Here,” sung by Frank Sinatra, is followed by “This Time We Almost Made It,” also by Frankie. Then comes “Stormy Weather” as performed by Lena Horne.

“Memories” from the musical “Cats” and is sung by Barbra Streisand is fourth (really ninth), and she ends up with “Younger Than Springtime,” from “South Pacific.” Good choices, Ma'am!

Beth definitely includes “Stardust.” Her husband played in the United States Navy band, and he told her every time they performed, they were requested to play this priceless Hoagy Carmichael song.

Next is “Always,” by Irving Berlin. It was her mother and father's song. Then there is the Beatles' “Hey, Jude.” When Stan Kenton played here, she remembers, she and husband Charlie were standing in front of the trumpet section and they directed this song to the two of them. She was thrilled!

Peggy Lee asking “Is That All There Is?” is a must, and she winds up her list with “New York, New York,” performed by almost anyone. “It's just such a wonderful song,” she explained.

Eli Arnold, who directs the Mizpah Shrine band and the American Legion Post 47 band, has some oldies but goodies on his list.

He started off with “Moonglow,” a wonderful ballad. Then he mentioned “Sing, Sing, Sing” as played by Louis Prima, and followed that with “Mr. Sandman.”

A World War II number was next: It's “Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me.” (Ah, what memories that one brings!) “Georgia on My Mind” is a Hoagy Carmichael song to be included. And as a band man, of course he includes “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

By the way, either group is available and eager to play programs for interested groups. He also has some smaller ensembles that perform post-WWII music.

“Everyone's older than me, and they know how fast to play it and who originally sang it,” he says. He gave me his phone number; it's 497-7148.

I just remembered another one to put on my list. It's “If I Loved You,” from “Carousel.” And how could I leave off “What I Did for Love” from “Chorus Line”?

I had better stop now. But I guess we showed the woman who started all this with her list of 16!

Betty E. Stein is a retired teacher.