My Dad's top 50 songs

A little over a week ago I blogged about my 50 favourite songs of all time. A few days later my brother Tim did the same. When I showed my father our lists he immediately felt a compulsion to make his own list, to the point where he’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking about a song, and have to write it down before he forgot. He’s finally managed to narrow it down to a clean 50, which I’ve posted here in alphabetical order. Observations about the three lists follow below.

  1. Band . “The Weight”
  2. Barra Macneils . “Cool Town Road”
  3. Big Sugar . “Wild Ox Moan”
  4. Bill Bourne . “Bluebird”
  5. Bill Justis . “Raunchy”
  6. Bob Dylan . “Desolation Row”
  7. Bob Dylan . “High Water”
  8. Bob Dylan . “Highlands”
  9. Bobbie Gentry . “Ode to Billy Joe”
  10. Browns . “The Thee Bells”
  11. Buddy Knox . “Rock Your Little Baby to Sleep”
  12. Carole King . “Smackwater Jack”
  13. Creedence Clearwater Revival . “Feeling Blue”
  14. Crosby Stills Nash and Young . “Teach Your Children”
  15. Dire Straits . “Walk of Life”
  16. Doc Watson . “Tennessee Stud”
  17. Doors . “Riders on the Storm”
  18. Eagles . “Heartache Tonight”
  19. Eagles . “Witchy Woman”
  20. Elvis Presley . “That’s All Right”
  21. Emmylou Harris . “Calling My Children Home”
  22. George Thorogood . “Bad to the Bone”
  23. Gillian Welch . “By the Mark”
  24. Gillian Welch . “Elvis Presley Blues”
  25. Gillian Welch . “Red Clay Halo”
  26. Gordon Lightfoot . “Sundown”
  27. Ian & Sylvia . “Old Blue”
  28. Jeff Buckley . “Hallelujah”
  29. Jennifer Warnes . “Ballad of the Runaway Horse”
  30. Jennifer Warnes . “Bird on a Wire”
  31. Jennifer Warnes . “Joan of Arc”
  32. Jimie Rodgers . “Blue Yodel #1 (T For Texas)”
  33. Joan Baez . “Farewell Angelina”
  34. Johnny Cash . “I Walk the Line”
  35. Johnny Cash . “Tennessee Flat Top Box”
  36. Kingston Trio . “Patriot Game”
  37. Levon Helm . “When I Get My Rewards”
  38. Natalie Merchant . “Diver Boy”
  39. Norman Greenbaum . “Spirit in the Sky”
  40. Rita MacNeil . “Working Man”
  41. Robert Johnson . “Crossroad Blues”
  42. Roy Orbison . “Candy Man”
  43. Roy Orbison . “Dream Baby”
  44. Stan Rogers . “Giant”
  45. Stan Rogers . “Make and Break Harbour”
  46. Stevie Ray Vaughan . “Crossfire”
  47. Tennessee Ernie Ford . “Sixteen Tons”
  48. Tracy Chapman . “Give Me One Reason”
  49. Wilson Pickett . “Mustang Sally”
  50. Woody Guthrie . “Vigilante Man”

What I see by looking at all three lists:


  • Only four artists were on all three of our lists: Big Sugar, Bob Dylan, The Doors and Robert Johnson.
  • Three other artists were on my list and Tim’s, but not Dad’s: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones.
  • Two other artists were on Tim’s list and Dad’s, but not mine: Creedence Clearwater Revival and Johnny Cash.
  • Two other artists were on my list and Dad’s, but not Tim’s: Jeff Buckley and Norman Greenbaum.


  • Only one song was on all three of our lists: “Wild Ox Moan” by Big Sugar.
  • Four other songs were on my list and Tim’s, but not Dad’s: “Break On Through” by The Doors, “When The Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd and “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones.
  • One other song was on Tim’s list and Dad’s, but not mine: “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash.
  • Three other songs were on my list and Dad’s, but not Tim’s: “Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan, “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley and “Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum.

Three clear messages emerge:

  1. If you have not yet heard “Wild Ox Moan” by Big Sugar, please arrange to do so with all possible speed
  2. My father has pretty goddamn good taste in music for a 65-year-old man
  3. My brother and I were obviously influenced heavily by our father’s love of music, good music more specifically, so all you parents out there should think twice before buying that Miley Cyrus CD

0 thoughts on “My Dad's top 50 songs

  1. Our father has acknowledged your multi-variable analysis.
    However, I forgot to transcribe the preface of his list, which reads: “Top 50. All time! Absolutely! For sure! No questions! Supercedes Dan and Tim’s lists.”

    So there you have it.

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