The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

21 November 2004

Listing to one side

Around 1989 Dave Marsh put out a brillantly-preposterous (or preposterously-brilliant) book called The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. While I buy into his subtext — while music tends to be doled out in album-sized chunks, those "albums" tend to be, in effect if not in actual chart action, singles surrounded by varying quantities of filler — I had some disagreements with his placements. (Then again, who wouldn't?) You can read the list here; I maintain a Marsh-O-Meter here that counts the number of songs on the list that also reside on my shelf or on a hard drive somewhere.

It would never occur to me to make a list of 1001 greatest songs, largely because I'd always wonder what I left off. And that's a lot of songs: none of our troika of "classic"-type radio stations has a playlist exceeding 500 or so. Besides, quality judgments are tricky at best, and the difference between number 438 and number 468 is probably vanishingly small. When Michele put out her list of her Top 100 (of an eventual 500), she listed them "in the order that they came into my head," which is probably as effective a methodology as you're going to find.

While poking around in one of my yet-unpacked boxes, I turned up an old 90-minute mix tape labeled Best of the 60s, which from the looks of it was done about 1996. Let's see what's on here:

  1. The Kinks, "All Day and All of the Night" (Marsh rating: 251)
  2. Little Peggy March, "I Will Follow Him"
  3. The Righteous Brothers, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (5)
  4. Martha and the Vandellas, "Dancing in the Street" (115)
  5. Dee Clark, "Raindrops"
  6. Procol Harum, "A Whiter Shade of Pale"
  7. Los Bravos, "Black Is Black"
  8. The Walker Brothers, "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)"
  9. Percy Faith and His Orchestra, "Theme From A Summer Place"
  10. The Jaynetts, "Sally Go Round the Roses" (377)
  11. The Searchers, "Needles and Pins" (239)
  12. The Temptations, "My Girl" (27)
  13. Gene Pitney, "It Hurts to Be in Love" (360)
  14. The Trashmen, "Surfin' Bird" (119)
  15. Jackie DeShannon, "What the World Needs Now Is Love"
  16. The Zombies, "Time of the Season"
  17. J. J. Jackson, "But It's Alright"
  18. Robert Knight, "Everlasting Love"
  19. Tommy James and the Shondells, "Crimson and Clover"
  20. Spanky and Our Gang, "Like to Get to Know You"
  21. The Grass Roots, "Midnight Confessions"
  22. The Crystals, "He's a Rebel" (248)
  23. The 4 Seasons, "Save It for Me"
  24. The Beatles, "She Loves You" (38)
  25. Linda Scott, "I've Told Every Little Star"
  26. The Lovin' Spoonful, "Summer in the City"
  27. Lesley Gore, "That's the Way Boys Are"
  28. The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (6)
  29. The Ronettes, "Be My Baby" (20)
  30. Peter and Gordon, "I Go to Pieces"
  31. The Marcels, "Blue Moon" (513)
  32. Del Shannon, "Runaway" (534)
  33. The Shirelles, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (105)

Side break after #16.

One historical note: I graduated from high school in 1969, and didn't really discover the, um, "heavier" stuff until I went away to college that fall; shortly after, while Top 40 still had some musical validity, most of the significant musical developments took place elsewhere. Today, of course, Top 40 is where you find the least significant music.

Would I change things for 2004? Maybe. Certainly a "Best of the 60s" collection can't possibly include all my favorite songs, which would extend back into the 50s and forward into the 80s, maybe the 90s. But just playing this old tape — I still have the recorder, vintage 1983, on which it was made — brings smiles.

Posted at 12:54 PM to Tongue and Groove

TrackBack: 7:06 AM, 24 November 2004
» More about "Top ____ Songs" Lists from Rocket Jones
From Dustbury, a link to the 1001 Greatest Singles, compiled in 1989. Top five from that list: 1. I Heard It Through the Grapevine - "Gaye, Marvin" 1968 2. Johnny B. Goode - "Berry, Chuck" 1958 3. Papa's Got a......[read more]

Midnight Confession -- what a *great* song!

Posted by: David at 5:31 PM on 21 November 2004