File 770 Questionnaire

By JJ:

I’ve seen this meme a lot in recent years, and it seems like a good subject for discussion:

If you were only allowed to listen to only one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Please feel free to post links to the YouTube videos of your choices.
I’m not gonna lie: this one makes me cry every time it pops up on my iPod.

Keep on, keepin’ on, as long as our dreams are true
When cities are dust, it’s heaven or bust, in the shape of me and you
Gotta have faith to goad us along
Faith and hope to carry us on
Give us strength We’ll never go wrong
With this song in our hearts

Gonna make love the bottom line
We’re gonna find peace in our time

RIP Edward Joseph Mahoney.

46 thoughts on “File 770 Questionnaire

  1. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack

    This 1957 song was written by Ewan MacColl for his lover Peggy Seeger—both were married at the time. I prefer Flack’s original 1969 version (not the 1972 smash hit) which is much much slower, rhythmically ambiguous in a wonderful way (try counting it), and totally gorgeous.

  2. 4’33”
    No song I’ve ever heard could bear that weight, so I choose the song of being.

  3. Brown Robin beat me to it.

    But if I had to choose something, I don’t think it could be something with lyrics. So I’ll go with Beethovan’s Sixth Symphony (the Pastoral).

  4. This is probably like saying my favorite food is sugar, but the Leinsdorf version of the overture to Don Giovanni. Other versions at even slightly different tempos don’t seem to mesmerize me like this one does. And I found out just now, while searching for a link, that the original album cover looks like it could have been a first-draft cover for The Stars My Destination.

  5. Oh, man. Picking just one song would be infinitely harder than picking just one book. But if I had to choose, it might be this:

  6. Loreena McKennett’s “The Highwayman,” the Alfred Noyes poem set to music. (The song is ten minutes long and thus has less chance of wearing out its welcome.)

  7. @ Joe and Rob – extremely solid choices!

    I’m not much of a classical music buff, but this one has haunted me for decades:

  8. One song? If I thought for a while, it would most likely be a Swedish punk rock song, but here in the international community, I’ll pick Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising.

  9. You’d get sick to death of any song, but if I had to pick one it would be American Pie by Don McLean.

  10. Song with lyrics? Probably an Andy Partridge song by XTC; one of “Earn Enough for Us,” “Rook,” or “Omnibus.”

    As for very long early-’70s British rock, first I thought of “Watcher of the Skies” by Genesis mark I, then went for the obvious: Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick. Two full LP sides, one song. But some parts are more engaging than others, and I might tire of the whole.

    Alternatively, Laura Nyro’s “Luckie” would serve. Magnificent, especially for a freakin’ 20-year-old.

  11. From the the Greatest Album, from the Greatest Band during the GREATEST CONCERT TOUR EVER MOUNTED by ANYONE, U2’s ZOO STATION!!!!!

    I’m ready for the laughing gas
    I’m ready
    I’m ready for what’s next
    I’m ready to duck
    I’m ready to dive
    I’m ready to say
    I’m glad to be alive
    I’m ready
    I’m ready for the push, uh huh
    In the cool of the night
    In the warmth of the breeze
    I’ll be crawling ’round
    On my hands and knees
    Just down the line
    Zoo Station
    Got to make it on time, oh Zoo Station
    I’m ready
    I’m ready for the gridlock
    I’m ready
    To take it to the street, uh huh
    I’m ready for the shuffle
    Ready for the deal
    Ready to let go of the steering wheel
    I’m ready
    Ready for the crush, uh huh
    Zoo Station
    Zoo Station
    Zoo Station
    Alright, alright, alright, alright, alright
    It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
    Hey baby, hey baby, hey baby, hey baby
    It’s alright, it’s alright
    Time is a train
    Makes the future the past
    Leaves you standing in the station
    Your face pressed up against the glass
    I’m just down the line from your love (Zoo Station)
    Under the sign of your love (Zoo Station)
    I’m gonna make it on time, make it on time (Zoo Station)
    Just a stop down the line (Zoo Station)
    Just a stop down the line…

  12. For those that use Spotify – a play list.

    I tried to select the exact recordings everyone provided. Except for “Baby Shark”. My granddaughters love CoCoMelon. Apologies for any misselections.

    The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. – Dorothy Parker

  13. Miles Carter says You’d get sick to death of any song, but if I had to pick one it would be American Pie by Don McLean.

    That actually got taken off my playlist permanently after it revealed here in Maine where he and his now very former wife have lived both for many decades that he abused her. The divorce was a messy affair and she made out very well in it as indeed she have. I don’t tolerate such personal actions and thus don’t listen to songs by artists who do them.

  14. Paul: I consider Tales from Topographic Oceans one piece of music in four movements, so I’d try to get away with that.

    To go with the more recognized usage of “song,” I would pick the folk song “Shenandoah.” I don’t really have a favorite version; I just love to listen to it.

  15. @Cat Eldridge I do not associate with those who break their sacred oaths or otherwise behave in an intolerable manner in my personal life. I do separate the art from the artist. So I wouldn’t have him over for beer and brats but damn! Love that song.

    I do respect the other stance – no consumption of the art if the artist is too awful. We all have a line, we just draw it in different places.

  16. Single song? Bethoven’s fabulous Ninth Symphony.

    Single record? Band on the Run, by Paul McCartney & Wings

  17. Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street.” (It’s either that or “Theme From ‘Shaft'”.)

    Winding your way down on Baker Street
    Light in your head and dead on your feet
    Well, another crazy day
    You’ll drink the night away
    And forget about everything
    This city desert makes you feel so cold
    It’s got so many people, but it’s got no soul
    And it’s taken you so long
    To find out you were wrong
    When you thought it held everything

    You used to think that it was so easy
    You used to say that it was so easy
    But you’re trying, you’re trying now
    Another year and then you’d be happy
    Just one more year and then you’d be happy
    But you’re crying, you’re crying now

    Way down the street there’s a light in his place
    He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face
    And he asks you where you’ve been
    You tell him who you’ve seen
    And you talk about anything
    He’s got this dream about buying some land
    He’s gonna give up the booze and the one-night stands
    And then he’ll settle down
    In some quiet little town
    And forget about everything

    But you know he’ll always keep moving
    You know he’s never gonna stop moving
    ‘Cause he’s rolling, he’s the rolling stone
    And when you wake up, it’s a new morning
    The sun is shining, it’s a new morning
    And you’re going, you’re going home

    The song of unattainable happiness and wrong choices…

  18. Since no one has nominated any Dylan, I choose the wonderful ‘Brownsville Girl’, which is indeed 11 minutes long and has lyrics to die for and a soaring backing track. And may be genre adjacent or at lease 4th wall breaking.

  19. I remember when “Baker Street” was getting frequent airplay. One thing that helped it remain interesting was that it was structurally audacious: The verses had lyrics but the “chorus” was instrumental. This was purposeful: It’s as if words were no longer adequate at the end of each verse, and only that wailing sax (trading off with electric guitar later on) could fully express the songwriter’s emotion. Damn good record.

  20. What would it be? Probably “The Song that Doesn’t End”, from Shari Lewis & Lamb Chop.
    What would I like it to be? Nessun Dorma, from Turandot. There’s something about the harmonic structure that resonates with me. And since I don’t currently understand Italian, I could spend time learning the language. The story of Turandot is kind of annoying, though.

  21. gottacook: “As if words were no longer adequate” — spot on.

    Of course it might be Hollywood hype, but the record’s legend includes that the saxophone solo was the version picked up on a recorder that was running during the first rehearsal because it was so much better than the performances that came after.

  22. My problem with “Baker Street” — which I used to like but now find annoying — is that (and this fits with Mike’s legend) there’s only one sax solo; it’s just plugged in multiple times. I want to hear as if the sax player is actually playing whenever called upon.

    David Shallcross: I too love Nessun Dorma; I could live with that. And you don’t have to think about the story when you listen to it.

    Actually, a lot of my favorites have been listed: A Love Supreme, Sibelius, Beethoven, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face…

  23. “A Love Supreme” is an excellent choice, which I considered, as I also did several different songs by Genesis, Chicago, and the Who. But in the end my obscurantism won out and I chose Magma’s “Mekanik Destruktiw Kohmando”. This is a band for whom full-album songs are more the rule than the exception, who sing in a made-up language (Kobaian) songs of a planet (Kobaia, natch) where peace reigns but which, ultimately, destroys the Earth. This is the album where that happens; it is the third album of a trilogy called “Theusz Hamtahk” (Time of Hatred).

    It’s all good, but it’s especially about the drums. The drummer, who is also the composer, seems to have six or eight arms at times. The “made-up language” gimmick is mostly a way to have the voices be just another instrument in the band.

  24. Renaissance, “Ashes Are Burning”, specifically the Carnegie Hall performance.

  25. I could be a bastard and nominate “It’s A Small World After All” just to plant that annoying ear-worm. But I won’t.

  26. You’ve probably not heard this one, but when I first listened to it years ago I was earwormed forever. And it’s pretty too!

    Peter Blegvad & John Greaves – The Only Song

  27. Green Carnation’s “Light of Day, Day of Darkness” on the theory that it’ll probably take longer for me to get sick of an hour-long track than a shorter one.

  28. Probably Dies Natalis by Gerald Finzi, if words are required. Otherwise Shostakovich, Symphony No. 4.

  29. I’m a folkie at heart and yet I’d be heavily tempted toward Beethoven’s Fifth, because it might take a bit longer to wear out its welcome. The first movement alone is a brilliant bit of math (yes, that is a compliment. This is also math. )

    A quick skim through the music on my phone gave me a few surprises, like picking the song I thought was my second favourite in place of the first by a given artist when trying to figure out which long lasting work to choose from. But I think the winner would be Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts’s version of Suzanne Vega’s The Queen and the Soldier.

  30. I’d probably have to go with “Forever Autumn,” from Jeff Wayne’s “War of the Worlds” as performed by Justin Hayward.

  31. I don’t care what they say I can’t live in a world without multiple songs. But how about: The Rain, the Park, and Other Things?

  32. @Bonnie McDaniel

    You are most welcome. I just had a few minutes to include some later additions to the list. I hope that makes it better. Pleased to be at your service.

    FWIW, JJ set the rules (one song) and I’ve been trying to stick to that. IMO, symphonies, concertos, etc. are a single work/song with movements. Sort of like the extended length prog-rock pieces that Paul and I selected that have movements, but are a single piece as presented by the artists.

    There is a lot of music out there, so I rely on the person selecting to accurately describe the work (i.e. Dan’l selected Magma’s “Mekanik Destruktiw Kohmando” and from that description, I presume it is more like a single piece with several movements)

    I added only songs that were affirmatively offered as “the” selection. There were one or two that weren’t obviously available via Spotify (i.e. Peter Blegvad & John Greaves – The Only Song).

    I apologize for any omissions. Clarifications are welcome.

    I have a couple of other playlists on my Spotify profile. Feel free to check them out. Of particular interest (to me) are the Eclectic Oddities, the Ultimate Styx Playlist, and Songs for a Final Parting. Enjoy!

    So many books, so little time. – Frank Zappa

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