The 50 best songs of our boomer generation

After more than a year of tension on all sides, BoomerCafé is offering up not just fresh stories, but some of our “best of” pieces from the past.

This story originally published in May, 2015, and we should note that it is an all-time most popular story on BoomerCafé: 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)

Crosby, Stills & Nash

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


  1. As with any “Best of” list, you know arguments are inevitable.
    This is a real good one, so my only point of contention is this: If the Beatles are only allowed one song, I’d have made it “Hey, Jude.” It broke time restrictions of the day by being longer than 3:30; it never breaks to a refrain; and finally, it mounts in musical tension on the order to Ravel’s Bolero.
    That is brilliance!

    1. A worthy choice, for sure, Bill. And cases could likely be made for more than a dozen others. Thanks much for your feedback.

  2. While this is a great list I’m amazed that you didn’t include anything by Carole King. No solo song by Linda Ronstadt? Or anything by Cat Stevens? These artists were the background for so many of my experiences during that time and the artists I’ll find comfort in listening to as I age.

    1. All favorites, Jill. The hardest thing about a best-of is all the great songs/artists that you have to leave off the list. Thanks for your input!

  3. All lists like this are subjective, but what is “The Prayer” – a song written in 1998 – doing there? How is that a Boomer song? Otherwise the list is notable for its exclusion of the many Beatles songs that ought to be there, with the only Beatles song being “Eleanor Rigby?” I’m wiping the dirt from my hands as I walk from the list.

    1. As I’ve said before, Perry, one of my “rules” was only one song per artist or group. And I considered my generation to include years I was still around to hear great songs. Thanks for your input.

  4. Thanks. Interesting list. For me, music was a big part of the 60s, etc. As others have noted, we could add 50+ favorites to this list💕 I use my favorite songs for exercise or dance, for mood music to encourage, inspire, or to ponder as well as playlists that serve as background music as I write or study.

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