A while back, I was ridiculed, with good reason, for my rather bizarre and scattershot list of 15 all-time favorite movies. I’ve never seriously attempted to make a similar list of all-time favorite songs; I’ve liked such a wide variety of music over the years, going through genre “phases” like Paris Hilton goes through boyfriends, that it would be an exceedingly difficult project. I’m not even sure what exactly the criteria would be, since a list of my favorite songs at any given moment wouldn’t truly be an “all-time” list (because my tastes evolve and change), but a list of songs that were among my favorites at one time or another would include plenty of songs that I’ve gotten sick of, that don’t like as much as I used to, etc. (because, again, my tastes evolve and change). How would I balance the longevity factor with the “current opinion of the song” favor? Would I be required to include “The Island” by the Barra MacNeils just because it was my favorite song for years and years, even though I now realize that it’s a pleasant but unexceptional piece of music? Could I include “Stand Back Up” by Sugarland or “Captain Kidd” by Great Big Sea even though I’ve known them for a relatively short time, and who knows whether I’ll be sick of them a year from now? And on and on.
All that said, it occurred to me earlier tonight that if I were to single out one song as my absolute favorite of all-time, I think I might just know which one it would be. At the very least, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan would definitely be a leading contender. I can’t exactly explain why I love that song so much, but… I just do. It’s odd, I suppose, because I don’t have any breakups in my past about which to be bitter — and yet the song’s exquisitely dismissive, devil-may-care bitterness, delivered sublimely in Dylan’s warbling voice over the strains of that wonderful acoustic guitar, and of course the harmonica, appeals to me at some very intrinsic level. I could listen to (and sing along with) that song a dozen times in a row, and never get sick of it.
Anyway… in order to justify this entirely random bit of musical introspection, I must now ask my audience a question. :) What’s your favorite song of all-time? Inquiring minds (well, one inquiring mind anyway) want to know!
P.S. I just thought of a competitor for “Don’t Think Twice.” Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” is another one of those songs that transcends my musical phases. I never get sick of hearing it. Ever.
P.P.S. Another possible contender would be Bruce Springsteen’s “My City of Ruin” — not the album version, but the live version that he recorded for “America: A Tribute to Heroes” right after 9/11. Another contender would be “She’s Always a Woman” by Billy Joel. Hmm… why are all my absolute all-time favorite songs slow and/or sad? Am I depressed or something? Heh.
P.P.P.S. Wait, I just thought of an upbeat contender! “Jack and Diane” by John Cougar (now John Mellencamp), the song that produced my senior quote.
Maybe I should redefine the scope of the project. Instead of “my favorite songs of all-time,” perhaps what I’m really trying to think of here are “songs that transcend my musical mood swings.” As I said about “Walking in Memphis,” these are the songs that I simply never get sick of hearing, regardless of whether what I’m generally “into” at the moment is country, or rock, or Irish folk music, or filmscore, or… whatever.
I still think “Don’t Think Twice” has a leg up on all the others I’ve mentioned, though.
P.P.P.P.S. Another contender(s): “Confutatis” and “Lacrimosa” by Mozart — musical masterpiece(s) that I’ve had the privilege of singing in concert.