Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The music goes round and round

I am not really a music guy. I like music, but as with probably everyone, I like what I like. Unlike a lot of people though, I don't have some kind of rational explanation for it. I’ve never been into quality sound systems – a normal car radio is good enough for me - and I don’t go crazy exploring different kinds of music. Actually, at this point, I don't explore any music.  So, your answer to the following question may be very different than mine. When is the last time you got excited about an album? Not a song, but an album. I cannot remember when it was for me, but it was decades ago. It could be nearly 40 years. The last two I consciously remember were Songs in the Key of Life (Stevie Wonder), which I loved, and Chicago X, which I looked forward to but disliked.  Maybe the way music is distributed has changed so much that there is less reason to get excited now than in the past about a whole album as opposed to a piece. Or maybe it is because I pay such little attention to music I feel this way.  I only listen on my ipod to stuff I downloaded because I already like it. But, just by being in the world, I do hear new music from time to time and I rarely like anything – maybe three or four songs a year and almost always mainstream pop hits. And, admittedly, it may all be about me becoming fossilized in what I like as I seem to be with fiction. I’m not complaining. I like what I like.

In any event, I decided to do yet another series of top ten lists, but instead, at least the top three when I could and more when could not help myself. My tastes are, if nothing else, eclectic, but at the same fairly run of the mill.  I doubt my answers would be much different than most other people in my age group who like a certain type of music (or in the case of disco and rap, the few I like).  I’m not going to rank my choice, but try to display them alphabetically. If I screw that up, who cares? All of the selections I have personally listened to or owned. Some of them are performances and some their compositions (we don’t have recordings, e.g., of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven). Some are categories rather than people and the number of choices doesn’t indicate the quality of the performer or composer – it just means they are my clear favorites. Enough talk.

So . . .


Bach is by far my favorite classical composer (though, from what I understand, technically “baroque,” rather than “classical.”  But most people would say he is a classical composer). Prelude No. 1 in C major from the Well-tempered Clavier (which is the basis of the Ave Maria Charles Gounod created almost a century and a half later and which is not the same as Schubert’s Ave Maria around the same time. They are both beautiful, but definitely different. Worth listening to one then the other).

Brandenburg Concertos

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Sinfonia from Toccata 29


Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Symphony no. 21

Symphony no. 40

The Marriage of Figaro, overture


Fifth Symphony, First Movement

Fur Elise (probably really entitled Fur Therese, not Elise, as was discovered much later. This eerie piece is played in movies and tv all the time, but never played in public during Beethoven’s life).

Ninth Symphony (Eroica), Third Movement, Ode to Joy


The 1812 Overture

Romeo and Juliet

Violin Concerto in D major


Night on Bald Mountain

Pictures at an Exhibition

Romeo and Juliet

Violin Concertos

Mendelssohn’s concerto is among my absolute favorite pieces, but I loved all 4 of these back when I listened to classical music a lot.

No. 1, Op. 6 - Paganini

Violin Concerto in D Major – Beethoven

Violin Concerto in E Minor – Mendelssohn

Violin Concerto in D Major – Tchaikovsky


The first listed here is the least well known, but is in my opinion the best of the three, and that is saying something. Other than using the most familiar refrain from it to introduce someone on stage, it is rarely heard these days. But it is really spectacular and worth downloading or however you get music these days. Unfortunately, Carl Orff was a Nazi sympathizer, which makes it hard to have sympathy with him.

Carmina Burana - Orff

Messiah - Handel

Ninth symphony, third movement - Ode to Joy – Beethoven

Louis Armstrong

You could probably say this about all my selections, but I found it very hard to limit myself with him. I picked seven. And I’m sure this would start riots in some circles. And you will have to forgive me for not including Hello, Dolly, Cabaret or Sunnyside of the Street. They just didn’t make the cut. And while I love Zat you Santa Claus as a Christmas song, it also does not make the cut.

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

I’m Beginning to See the Light

It Don’t Mean a Thing, If It Ain’t Got that Swing

La Vie en Rose

Mack the Knife

What a Wonderful World

When the Saints Go Marchin’ In

Duke Ellington

A little overlap with Armstrong because some of my favorite Armstrong pieces are Ellington compositions.

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

I’m Beginning to See the Light

Take the “A” Train

Count Basie

Every Tub

Jumpin’ at the Woodside

One O’Clock Jump

Louis Prima

If you didn’t know it from past posts, Prima is my all-time favorite performer and Sing, Sing, Sing, the greatest Jazz piece ever composed. Yet I manage to keep it to four.

Buena Sera

I Want to be Just Like You

Sing, Sing, Sing (with a swing) 

Just a Gigolo

Jazz works other than by someone named Louis

In the Mood – Glenn Miller

‘Round Midnight – Thelonius Monk

Take 5 – Dave Brubeck

Frank Sinatra

High Hopes

My Way

New York, New York

The Way You Look Tonight


You Make Me Feel So Young

Chuck Berry

Johnny B Goode

Rock and Roll Music

Roll Over Beethoven

Elvis Presley

Burning Love

Can’t Help Falling in Love

Jailhouse Rock

Viva Las Vegas

The Beatles

Across the Universe

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Here Comes the Sun

Hey, Jude



Ain’t No Mountain High Enough - Ross

Dancing in the Streets – Martha and the Vandellas

Fingertips Parts I and II - Wonder

Let’s Get it On - Gaye

Rolling Stones

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Jumping Jack Flash

Sympathy for the Devil

Waiting for a Friend

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

The Who

Baba O’Reilly

I Can See For Miles

Love Reign O’er Me

Won’t Get Fooled Again

The Beach Boys

Good Vibrations

Sloop John B.


She’s Real Fine My 409

Simon & Garfunkle

A Hazy Shade of Winter

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Mrs. Robinson

The Boxer

The Sound of Silence

Elton John

A Cat Named Hercules


Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

Gray Seal


Bruce Springsteen

Born to Run

Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Dancing in the Dark

Thunder Road

Santa Claus is Coming To Town

She’s the One

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

My favorite group growing up.

Karn Evil 9

Fanfare for the Common Man (an Aaron Copland composition)


Pictures at an Exhibition

Stevie Wonder


I Just Called to Say I Love You (I know, it’s sappy and made into a tv commercial, but it was a great song)

My Cherie Amour

Sir Duke


You are the Sunshine of My Life


Last Dance (Donna Summers)

McArthur Park (Donna Summers)

TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) (MFSB with The Three Degrees)

When Will I See You Again (The Three Degrees)

You’re My First, My Last, My Everything (Barry White)

Hip Hop

Gangsta’s Paradise (Coolio)

Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J)

My Name Is (Eminem)


  1. I can forgive a lot. Minor quibbles with your classical picks (Don Giovanni must be on Mozart's list) and you ignore the records that made Satchmo' famous like Potato Head Blues and St. Louis Blues, and April in Paris has to be on the Basie list, his version is without equal. Considering how much you know about Prima, I'm surprised there's no Old Black Magic. But what is absolutely unforgiveable is High Hopes and Burning Love at the top of Sinatra's and Presley's lists. Two of the most forgettable pieces of pap either ever recorded! What the hell is wrong with you? HIgh Hopes? Gag me! Ever hear of "The Summer Wind"? "The Way You Look Tonight"? How about "I Want to Live, Until I Die?" "The Lady is a Tramp"? "You Are a Moron"!

  2. Well, that's awfully agreeable of you. I wouldn't fight you on The Summer Wind or The Way You Look Tonight (actually, that's on my ipod), but not a fan of I'm Gonna Live Till I Die (world's shortest song to my memory) and The Lady is a Tramp. I probably could have added another few Satchmo songs, but neither of those would have been them. I love Prima's Old Black Magic, but it's not my favorite. That would probably be around number ten. Not a Don Giovanni fan either. I tried once. Too many notes (that's a joke, son). And I am 99% sure You Are A Moron is not really a song.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .