The 50 best songs of our boomer generation

This is fun: Hawthorne, New Jersey’s retired editor and writer Alan J. Paul has put together a list. It’s a list full of memories. And for baby boomers, good vibrations. He calls it “The 50 Best Songs Of My Generation.”

I have been working on “The 50 Best” for the past year or so, but the list remains fluid for the simple reason that I keep remembering other songs I’ve loved over the years and have to make adjustments. I purposely decided to limit the list to only one song per artist or group, since it would have been overrun by the likes of the Beatles, the Stones, Billy Joel, and a generous handful of others.

Alan J. Paul, writer and editor.

My other caveats were that there had to be a certain level of musical sophistication to the selections, and I tried not to include one-hit-wonders (though there have been several that I’ve liked, in spite of myself).

It is only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve come to realize the extent to which music has shaped, enriched, described, and defined my existence. This, then, is the soundtrack of my life, to this point in time. Let me know if there are any songs you think I might have overlooked, or others that really have no right being on “The 50 Best Songs of My Generation,” for whatever reason.

  1. Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones)
  2. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)
  3. Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)
  4. Stairway To Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
  5. God Only Knows (The Beach Boys)
  6. Imagine (John Lennon)
  7. Baba O’Riley (The Who)
  8. Billy Jean (Michael Jackson)
  9. Hotel California (The Eagles)
  10. Suite Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills and Nash)
  11. Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry)
  12. Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen)
  13. Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith)
  14. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
  15. Light My Fire (The Doors)
  16. Cowgirl In The Sand (Neil Young)
  17. Scenes From An Italian Restaurant (Billy Joel)
  18. Fire And Rain (James Taylor)
  19. You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling (The Righteous Brothers)
  20. Can’t Stop Believing (Journey)
  21. Respect (Aretha Franklin)
  22. American Pie (Don McLean)
  23. The Prayer (Andrea Bocelli & Celine Dion)
  24. Follow (Richie Havens)
  25. Turn, Turn, Turn (The Byrds)
  26. Losing My Religion (REM)
  27. Every Breath You Take (The Police)
  28. Be My Baby (The Ronettes)
  29. Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel)
  30. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
  31. Up On The Roof (The Drifters)
  32. Georgia (Ray Charles)
  33. Superstition (Stevie Wonder)
  34. California Dreamin’ (The Mamas And The Papas)
  35. Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
  36. House Of The Rising Son (The Animals)
  37. Born To Be Wild (Steppenwolf)
  38. Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell)
  39. That’ll Be The Day (Buddy Holly & The Crickets)
  40. Bye Bye Love (The Everly Brothers)
  41. Earth Angel (The Penguins)
  42. Come Go With Me (Del Vikings)
  43. Will You Love Me Tomorrow (The Shirelles)
  44. Oh What A Night (The Four Seasons)
  45. Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple)
  46. The Way It Is (Bruce Hornsby)
  47. Don’t Be Cruel (Elvis Presley)
  48. I Can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt)
  49. Don’t Know Much (Aaron Neville & Linda Ronstadt)
  50. The Barricades Of Heaven (Jackson Browne)

Ray Charles

There’s a “COMMENTS” section down below. Let us know if you’re on my musical soundtrack.

[This story originally appeared in May 2015.]

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  1. A prodigious task, and not my list, but then I am a little to old to be a “boomer”. Most conspicuous to me is the absence of Paul Simon solo, and Pink Floyd. There are others of course. But then you predicted that.
    Thank you for the work.

    1. Wasn’t a huge Floyd fan, but you’re right that they were a significant group. Always loved S&G more than I loved either solo. Thanks for the input

  2. Well executed for the most part with the following adds and deletes: delete #20 Can’t Stop Believing (Journey) and add either White Rabbit or Somebody to Love (Jefferson Airplane), delete #30 Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)and add Piece of My Heart (Big Brother and the Holding Company), delete #23 The Prayer (Andrea Bocelli & Celine Dion) and add Ramblin’ Man (Allman Brothers) and finally, delete #17 Scenes From An Italian Restaurant (Billy Joel) and add Black Magic Woman (Santana)
    Thanking you for the pleasurable exercise that my brain and memory just went through to get to these adds and deletes.

    1. All great inclusions, Uncle Al. It was a great exercise for me as well. One of these days i may have to do a revision, based on all the great input from Boomers like you. Thanks.

    1. True dat, Joe. One of my faves that I forgot about. If you’re into Joni and her contemporaries, I suggest a book called Hotel California, by Barney Hoskyns.

  3. Thanks, Alan! Limiting the list to 50 must have been excruciatingly painful at times…LOL…It’s one of those things that’s exceedingly personal, no lists of the same subject prepared by any of us would be identical.

  4. As soon as I saw the surname, Paul my first thought was, “I bet this guy’s from Jersey. I wonder what our degree of kinship is. The suffragette, Alice Paul was a distant cousin of mine.

    We have the same taste in music. And, though there are countless other songs that could be added, I am content with those listed here.

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