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16 Songs Everyone Over 50 Should Own

Did your favorite tune make best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard's list?

  • John Dominis/Time & Life Pictures

    "Once Upon a Time"

    FRANK SINATRA (1965): People say the definitive version of the song was performed by Bobby Darin. He's great, but this cut, recorded as Ol' Blue Eyes turned 50, makes us ache for all the sweet byroads of our lives.

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    "Harvest Moon"

    NEIL YOUNG (1992): Both written and sung by Neil Young, "Harvest Moon" is one of the most beautiful waltzes about the September years.

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    STEVIE WONDER (1980): It may be one of the master's most complex and enthralling melodies, a song of infidelity. It's stunning to recall that the inimitable Stevie had already, by this time, recorded the album Songs in the Key of Life. He was just 30 years old.

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    "A House Is Not a Home"

    DIONNE WARWICK (1964): The singer asserted that this was not her favorite song from her legendary collaboration with Burt Bacharach and Hal David. OK. For my money, this is a torch song that out-blazes Julie London's "Cry Me a River."

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    "Little Green"

    JONI MITCHELL (1971): One of the most intimately confessional, forthright songs ever written, it's from the album Blue, which was the one to cry to in high school or college. If you can get through "A Case of You" without remembering the one that got away, you're a better dingo than I am.

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    "Gangsta's Paradise"

    COOLIO (1995): If you never got into rap, listen to these words, some taken from an arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise," all speaking of the desperate sadness of lifelong badness.

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    STEVIE NICKS (1975): If it hadn't been for Nicks' lousy relationship with her co-band member Lindsey Buckingham, we'd have missed one of the most poignant pop songs of regret from this or any era.

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    "Hotel California"

    EAGLES (1977): Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote, "You can check out anytime you like / But you can never leave." What, exactly, did the Eagles mean by "Hotel California"? It remains a great mystery of rock 'n' roll — and one of the eeriest rock songs ever.

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    "You Shook Me All Night Long"

    AC/DC (1980): From the album Back in Black, this is a song about … well, if I have to explain what it’s about, being over 50 still holds a big surprise for you!

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    "C'est La Vie"

    EMMYLOU HARRIS (1977): Chuck Berry wrote this song — also called "You Never Can Tell" — while in prison. If it doesn’t put you in a good mood, well, I’m not sure there's anything that would. The duchess of country pop does it better than anyone.

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    "He Stopped Loving Her Today"

    GEORGE JONES (1980): "He Stopped Loving Her Today" refers to George Jones' love for country queen Tammy Wynette. Its gentle dignity touches your heart.

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    "For What It's Worth"

    BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD (1967): Written by Stephen Stills, this haunting anthem of the risks of the Vietnam protest movement still cuts deep.

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    PATSY CLINE (1962): Willie Nelson wrote the lyrics; Patsy Cline said she couldn't sing them, but this song became one of her signature pieces.

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    "God Only Knows"

    BEACH BOYS (1966): Paul McCartney drove his children crazy playing this song over and over, calling it the most perfect of all pop songs and bemoaning the fact that he hadn't written it.

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    "Jailhouse Rock"

    ELVIS PRESLEY (1957): Simply said, the King never did it better.

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    "In My Life"

    THE BEATLES (1965): As we reach the September of our lives, we hear this song in a new way. "There are places I remember, all my life, though some have changed …"

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