My Ultimate Playlist

I was asked by my friend, Marie (teacher at my son's school), to help her compile a list of 20 songs that her middle schoolers should know. Of course, musical taste is very individual but I'm going to give it my best shot. This list includes some oldies and some of the best new music out there.  I'm sure there will be readers out there who will disagree with my picks or want to add some of their own. Feel free to leave comments about what songs you would put on the list.

Here are my songs (not listed in any type of order except when they popped into my head):


Bittersweet Symphony

by The Verve 

Bitter Sweet Symphony - Urban Hymns

- A fabulous song to play very loud with your sunroof                  open or your top back wearing some cool sunglasses (a la Reese Witherspoon in Cruel Intentions).


Gimme Shelter

by The Rolling Stones

Gimme Shelter - Let It Bleed

- As the first notes play, it feels like the first time you've ever heard it. Such a classic. Makes you want to stop whatever it is you're doing and listen.


Gimme Shelter

by Patti Smith

Gimme Shelter - Gimme Shelter - Single

- Same song as the Stones, but Patti Smith reinvents it with her gravelly, harsh voice. Makes me want to be a rock star.



by The Cure

Lovesong - The Cure: Greatest Hits

- Ahhh. College. Takes me back.


The Ballad of Love and Hate

by The Avett Brothers

The Ballad of Love and Hate - Emotionalism (Bonus Track Version)

- This song is so lovely. Imagine Love and Hate being married. So many layers and meanings can be interpreted from these lyrics.


From Above

by Ben Folds and Nick Hornby

From Above - Lonely Avenue (Deluxe Version)

- The product of a collaboration between Ben Folds (of Ben Folds Five) and novelist Nick Hornby (About A Boy, High Fidelity). The song is about two people who are destined to be together but never actually meet. They come close (if viewed From Above) by going to the same party or movie, but it never happens. Deep down they know somethings missing, but are unsure what it could be. Thought-provoking.


Don't Fear The Reaper

by Blue Oyster Cult

(Don't Fear) The Reaper - Don't Fear the Reaper - The Best of Blue Öyster Cult

- Such a great old tune. Romeo and Juliet. Need I say more.


Barton Hollow

by The Civil Wars

Barton Hollow - Barton Hollow - Single

- A new song with an old feel. Makes me want to put on my cowboy boots and stomp. Lovely images of baptisms in rivers and outlaws and memories of my ancestors in the deep South.



by The Counting Crows

Colorblind - This Desert Life

- One of the best by this band, although I generally like all of their songs. The piano in this takes my breath away and makes my heart hurt. Coffee black and egg white. Taffy stuck and tongue-tied.


Cold Water

by Damien Rice

Cold Water - O (Deluxe Version)

- Begins ever so softly with piano and guitar and builds to a mind-blowing crescendo. I can feel the chill of the water as I surrender and float.


A Little Bit of Everything

by Dawes 

A Little Bit of Everything - Nothing Is Wrong

- Another new one on the list. Dawes has a great folksy sound and touches on a variety of life experiences in this ballad.


Radio Free Europe

by REM

Radio Free Europe - Murmur (Deluxe Edition)

- A classic song by a classic band from the days when I played pool and ping pong with them after sets at The Chukker.


The Cave

by Mumford & Sons

The Cave - Sigh No More

- I love anything with the banjo and by this wonderful band, but if I had to pick just one song, this would be it.


I Can't Stand The Rain

by Ann Peebles

I Can't Stand the Rain - I Can't Stand the Rain

- Her voice is so soulful. I can feel my hips sway with the music. It's songs like this that make me wish I could sing.


Baby I Love Your Way

by Peter Frampton

Baby, I Love Your Way (Live) - Peter Frampton: Greatest Hits

- You know you love him. From one of the best albums ever.


Voices Carry

by 'Til Tuesday

Voices Carry - Voices Carry

- Oh yeah. Got to have some Aimee Mann.


You're So Vain

by Carly Simon

You're So Vain - The Best of Carly Simon

- With backup vocals by Mick Jagger, this is a great song that had tongues wagging when it was released in 1973. She had just married James Taylor, but had famous relationships with Mick, Warren Beatty, and Kris Kristofferson. When asked, she is evasive, but it seems fairly clear it's about Beatty.



by Keane 

Myth - Strangeland (Deluxe Version)

- From their new Strangeland album. Beautiful piano and lyrics. Sometimes I like a good sad song and I can listen to this one over and over. The lyrics are about the memories of a lost love. "I see you in the sweetness of our child. I see you when I'm kneeling on the floor. I see you silhouetted on a wall but I don't see myself there at all." Sigh.


Scenes from An Italian Restaurant

by Billy Joel

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant - The Stranger

- I remember seeing Billy Joel in concert and going crazy when this song started. It's 7 and a half minutes long and is a medley of three songs. It has piano, jazz, and rock & roll.


Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

by Elton John

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters - Honky Château

- My favorite of Elton John's. "While Mona Lisa's and Mad Hatters, sons of bankers, sons of lawyers. Turn around and say good morning to the night."

Now I think I'm going to sit back, relax, and listen to some of the tunes on my list. Maybe you've learned about one or two that you didn't know or had forgotten. Either way, you know me a little better by listening to them.

You've been buzzed!