The Six-Song Challenge, part two

six songsI tossed this out as a challenge about two months ago. The basic task: name six songs that you think everyone should know. Be serious, silly, pedantic, ironic: anything you like. Briefly explain your choices. If a song has been recorded or performed by more than one artist, pick the version or artist you like best.

I got some great responses and vowed to follow up with part two. My good friend Cindy Davis sent her list, but I didn’t want her to feel singled out so I waited for more replies.

And waited. And waited.

So I’m going to toss this out again for more submissions. Send me your six: if they’re good, I’ll post them.

And here’s Cindy’s awesome list (sorry, Cindy, for the delay):

1. “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel:  It’s such a ‘60s song.  A ‘60s protest song sung ballad style.   The best version is accompanied by an acoustic guitar.

2. “Dream a Little Dream Of Me” by The Mamas and The Papas:  It was first recorded in 1931 by Ozzie Nelson and his orchestra.  The Mamas and The Papas recorded it in 1968.  A slow dreamy love song, perfect for slow dancing, if anyone slow dances anymore.

3. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony:  Just listen to it.  I’m in awe of anyone who can write full orchestra music.  It was hand written on paper.  No computer.  Imagine writing all of those parts, fitting them all together perfectly, to make the whole piece.

4. “Amazing Grace” written by John Newman:  I prefer it sung to guitar.  It is a great song of hope. (What, Cindy, no bagpipes?!)

5. “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac:  I’m going to cheat and say the whole album.  Released in 1977, I thought it was some of the best music I’d ever heard.

 6. “We Can Work It Out” by The Beatles: This is one of my favorite Beatles songs.  “Life is very short, and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.”

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3 Comments on “The Six-Song Challenge, part two”

  1. Hey Scott, Sorry I missed this the first time around! It’s an intriguing challenge. My first pass was 5/6 protest folk, so I forced myself to mix it up a bit. In no particular order… 1. A Different Kind of Love Song by Dick Gaughan – the perfect testimonial to the need for protest folk delivered in his distinctive style. If I were only given one song to contribute to a list of must-hear’s, this would be it. 2. Red Wine and Promises written by Lal Waterson – the highlight of the brilliant Bright Phoebus collection, a song of “somewhat vulgar independence” as June Tabor puts it. Tabor’s version is my favorite, but there are many wonderful renditions. 3. Love For Sale written by Cole Porter – a bit of fun that shows of his witty writing with just a touch of social commentary. Another with many great performances. My favorite is Jo Stafford’s as she merges her beautiful voice with her sense of fun to make a classic version. 4. Overkill by Men At Work – I didn’t appreciate this song as much when it was a hit, but it really spoke to me when I rediscovered it a few years ago. A nice meditation on growing older and finding meaning in one’s life. 5. London Calling by the Clash – raw, powerful, and much more complex than the casual listener ever gave them credit for. The rage against Thatcherite England translates too well to other places and times. Joe Strummer’s harrowing yowls and the chaotic ending make it a flawless performance. 6. Wall of Death by Richard & Linda Thompson – I almost opted to include the whole album (Shoot Out the Lights), but I can extract this one song pretty easily. Wonderful rt imagery, just enough darkness, but overall an uplifting song that merges their voices delightfully. This is my antidote to just about anything. For the record, I might well have included Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (my favorite version being John Cale’s live piano performance on Fragments of a Rainy Season) but Jessie Osipenko was kind enough to list it, so I get an extra song! Cheers, Robert

    • scottmac56 says:

      Robert, you already know “Wall Of Death” is one of my all-time favorites.

      Cool that you picked “Overkill.” Have you ever heard the solo acoustic version Colin Hay performed on “Scrubs”? It’s on the first CD soundtrack.

      Cole Porter was astounding with wordplay. Elvis Costello cites him as an influence. But Ella still has the definitive version of “Love For Sale” IMO.

      Add my vote for “Hallelujah” also. Both you and Jessie picked well.

      I will probably cut and paste your list into Part 3. Thanks for jumping in, friend!

      – Scott.

      • re: “Overkill” yes, I enjoy the Scrubbed version, too. It captures the spirit of the song nicely.
        re: “Love For Sale” so many choices. I also love Harvey Fierstein’s in “Torch Song Trilogy.”


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