Author’s AARP ’16 must haves’ list comes up short

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Some things that caught my eye
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Best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard listed 16 songs everyone over 50 must own on AARP’s website.

No, I wasn’t trolling AARP’s site; they sent me an email touting 16 songs I SHOULD have on my iPod now that I’ve reached the magical age. Passed it, in fact, but by how much only my teenager knows.

As something of a music aficionado – or at least a big-time fan – I considered it a challenge: My faves versus the best-selling author’s.

“Music stokes my mood, keeps me spinning, on the bike and in life, and recalls for me irreplaceable moments we get to experience once, if we’re lucky,” Ms. Mitchard wrote before revealing her top picks. To her defense, the author drew from every genre. Again, upping the ante for the rest of us.

Here are Mitchard’s picks:

1. Once Upon A Time (Frank Sinatra, 1965) – “…recorded as Ol’ Blue Eyes turned 50, makes us ache for all the sweet byroads of our lives,” she writes.

2. Harvest Moon (Neil Young, 1992) – “…one of the most beautiful waltzes about the September years.”

3. Lately (Stevie Wonder, 1980) – I’m calling foul here. Not just because Stevie’s got better stuff – most of it is on my iPod – but because he was only 30 when he wrote this. Thirty? What do they know about 50? They’re just babies.

4. A House Is Not a Home (Dionne Warwick, 1964) – Fantastic original, but I wonder if Ms. Mitchard has heard Luther Vandros’ cover?

5. Little Green (Joni Mitchell, 1971) – Good, yes, but what about “A Case of You” or “Big Yellow Taxi” or …

6. Gangsta’s Paradise (Coolio, 1995) – Coolio? Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” maybe. Or Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” or, well, anyone but Coolio.

7. Landslide (Stevie Nicks, 1975) – Standing in ankle-deep mud at this year’s Jazz Fest, the sun baking my face and shoulders as Fleetwood Mac replayed the soundtrack of my high school years, I appreciated the poignancy of this song far more today. I’ll give Ms. Mitchard this one. Top 16: Agreed.

8. Hotel California (Eagles, 1977) – Again, wheeling around with friends in my mother’s hoopdee Ford. Reaching the front of the stage in the Superdome with Glenn Frey winking in my direction. Bell-bottom jeans and huaraches … those were the days.

9. You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC, 1990) – Hmmm. Wanna rock? The Who. Rush. Led Zepplin. But AC/DC?

10. C’est La Vie (Emmylou Harris, 1977) – Granted, after seeing Chuck Berry higher than a kite at City Park stop and restart this one three times and then give up, I became an instant fan of ANYONE else singing his songs, Emmylou included. But if I’m only allowed 16 songs on my iPod and only enough electrical power to recharge it and run a blender…? C’est la vie.

11. He Stopped Loving Her Today (George Jones, 1980) – What a voice. What a song. If I’m only allowed one country song, this is a valid contender.

12. For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield, 1967) – Mitchard says this one is a “haunting anthem of the risks of the Vietnam protest movement still cuts deep.” Given recent events – global and local – I agree.

13. Crazy (Patsy Cline, 1962) – Been there, done that, got the T-shirt to show.

14. God Only Knows (Beach Boys, 1966) – Great harmonies, granted. But with only 16 tunes, is this really iPod worthy?

15. Jailhouse Rock (Elvis Presley, 1957) – Wouldn’t be writing this sans Elvis, as anyone who knows me can attest. My dog, Elvis, and I concur, the King of Rock ’n’ Roll deserves a spot on any list. Any given day, he may comprise all 16 of my choices.

16. In My Life (The Beatles, 1965) – The Fab Four dot the musical landscape of my youth. Elvis and John, Paul, George and Ringo. Does it get any better?

OK, it’s my turn. Did anyone notice our best-selling author’s list omitted a number of best-selling musicians? Can you say Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton and Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the Police or the Grateful Dead? And what about Motown? No Simon and Garfunkel, or just Simon? Or the Rolling Stones? And what’s your beef with Jimmy Buffett?

In all fairness, picking your favorite 16 songs is sort of like choosing your favorite child. As a single parent, I can do it but it upsets the dog.

I’ve read Jacquelyn Mitchard’s inaugural hit, “The Deep End of the Ocean.” It is a heartbreaker about a child who goes missing and the impact it has on his family. Oprah put it on her book club list. I cried like a baby as I read it. But if I’d known she didn’t consider Johnny Cash or Bob Marley or U2 or James Taylor and the other 1,400-plus bands currently on my iPod, would my impression be different? Maybe music is so personal we’re best just keeping our favorites between our earbuds and our iPod.