Music can trigger memories, alter your mood and stimulate your mind. Because music is so highly personal and subjective, “best of” and “must have” lists are always debated. Here, four individuals in their 50s through 80s share their favorite tunes and favorite artists, and what that music meant to them. Perhaps it will inspire you to pull out some of your old favorites and sing aloud!
“For me, it’s Elvis,” Vicky Schartz says of her favorite artist. “The first time I heard him sing, I knew I’d be a fan for life. My favorite song … ‘The Wonder of You.’ I saw him perform in Las Vegas and was not disappointed. [Satellite] radio keeps him alive to this day.”
“The ones that come to mind are some of the fun, kicky ABBA songs like (‘Take a Chance on Me,’ ‘Mamma Mia,’ ‘Dancing Queen’), especially those that were in ‘Mamma Mia,’ ” comments Michelle Demers. “I know this is corny, but I think I like them because they’re such good songs to sing with your girlfriends when you’re feeling silly.”
From the Jukebox
“When I think of music, good memories come to mind,” says Sandra Giedeman. “The first song I loved was one I heard coming from a jukebox in East St. Louis where I went to school. It was Chuck Berry’s ‘Maybelline.’ Chuck Berry’s songs are all great, but that one is my favorite. Maybe it’s partly because he’s from my hometown, St. Louis. In fact, ‘Maybelline’ is on my
. It’s great to listen to when I do my walk.”
“Another favorite that my husband and I both love is the Beatles’ ‘Two of Us,’ ” Sandra continues. “We think of it as our song. Later, it was Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones. My husband is a fan of Mark Knopfler, a wonderful guitarist and songwriter, so we’ve been to his concerts anytime he tours in LA. I could go on – classical, jazz and folk. I like to listen to music when I write.”
Defining the Decades
Don Hanley reflects on how the music he’s seen through the decades spoke to the times: “ ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ toward the end of the Great Depression and [its lyrics] were signs of hope and encouragement.”
“Towards the end of WWII, ‘White Christmas’ came along to encourage … again a sign of love and hope,” he continues.
“With the introduction of rock ‘n’ roll, a new era was brought in with songs such as ‘Rock Around the Clock.’ ” But Don says that rock was for the youth of the time while he believes songs like “Ol’ Man River” and “Sixteen Tons” reflected “the difficulty and struggle of life borne by the working class” and spoke to him the most.
Whatever songs from the past (and present) speak to you, take the time to find and play them. You may be surprised at the memories and feelings they bring with them. Today’s technologies make it easier than ever before to locate and download the tunes you desire, creating playlists of all your favorite songs. Not sure how to get started? Read AARP’s “How to Download Music” guide to get your toes tapping.