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100 Songs Readers Want On My List of Should-Be Favorites

Filichia wades through readers' responses to his column about show songs that deserve to be all-time faves. logo

Regarding my May 6 column in which I listed The 100 Songs That Deserve to Be All-Time Show Favorites, Ellen S. Ward wrote "just to say that I probably haven't heard of 90% of the songs or shows you named and, of the 10% I do know, I mostly wouldn't agree with the particular songs you chose." So God love Edward Cox for saying that he thought "at least 85 songs" were right on the money.

I learned long ago that I can't please everybody even a smidgen of the time. Still, I'm going to try. For even though I said I'd only list the first 100 responses I got from readers (and apportioned them only five selections each), I'm waiving the rules because, by 9:42am on the morning of May 6, the 100 song limit had already been reached. Some of the suggestions were so good that I found myself smiting my forehead (the way, we're told, that Arthur Laurents smote his forehead in 1956 when Stephen Sondheim met him at a party and said, "Who's doing lyrics for this West Side Story of yours?"--and Laurents had to hit himself and admit he should have thought of Sondheim).

Remember, I just made my list off the top of my head. "You stated that you were different from all those other critics, that you thought Frank Wildhorn was a very talented man. Why didn't you follow up on that??!?!" snarled Andrea, pointing out the lack of Wildhorn on the list. But Andrea, I did say that I was limiting the list to shows that ran under a year, so Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel weren't eligible. I should, however, have remembered "Sons of Dixie" (The Civil War).

Many readers--such as Val Addams, John Connors, David Burrows, and John W. Griffin--took issue with my choosing "Anyone Can Whistle," for I had stated that I wouldn't include any songs that had had much recording activity. They all pointed out plenty of recordings that this song has garnered. That's what I get for not paying more attention to cover versions and spending my life with original cast albums. Instead, I'll take Alfonzo Tyson's wise suggestion of "Come Play Wiz Me" from the Anyone Can Whistle score.

"'Meadowlark?!!!'" snorted Frank Soldo. "The song has been recorded a million times by every Broadway diva and thereby shouldn't make the list. If you were going to pick one song from The Baker's Wife that didn't get much recording time, then my choice would be 'Gifts of Love.'" Frank, you're 100% correct. It is a beautiful song, and I smote my forehead in shame at not having thought of it myself.

That makes three additions to the list. Here are others I wish I'd remembered, in alphabetical order:

4. "The Cigarette Song" (Promenade), mentioned by BwayMolly.
5. "Cry for Us All" (Cry for Us All), Ron Spivak.
6. "Flotsam and Jetsam" (Shinbone Alley), Jimmy Berg.
7. "Heart and Music" (A New Brain), Scott Cain, Chelsea Jones.
8. "His Own Little Island" (Let It Ride), Tom Stretton.
9. "I Had a Ball" (I Had a Ball), Stuart Ira Soloway ("There's a show tune everyone should know. One of the most delightful, swinging, powerfully belted songs to be heard on a Broadway stage, I think. Oh, dammit, it's just FUN!)
10. "I'll Never Go There Anymore" (Kelly), Mike Kohler.
11. "The Kind of Man a Woman Needs" (The Yearling), Larry Lowenstein.
12. "Meadow Serenade" (Strike Up the Band), Paul Mendenhall ("Were the Gershwins ever more charming, and totally themselves, than here?")
13. "Money Burns a Hole in My Pocket" (Hazel Flagg), Jon Maas ("It wasn't just added to the movie, but was in the stage show, too.")
14. "New Words" (One, Two, Three, Four, Five), Ronni Krasnow and Joe Meagor ("The singer teaches his son the word for moon, then stars, and finally tackles the hard word 'love,' which can only be taught by example.")
15. "Sew The Buttons On" (Riverwind), Neil677.
16. "Some Girl Is on Your Mind" (Sweet Adeline), Chris Connelly, John W. Griffin, Andrew Milner.
17. "Someone Else's Story" (Chess), Scott Cain.
18. "'Smashing!'--New York Times" (dropped from Applause), Mardie Millit suggested this after giving me credit for introducing her to the song when I made her a tape of my demo almost 20 years ago.
19. "Sweet River" (110 in the Shade), John Connors ("I got this album because I was so enchanted by this melody on one of the Lost in Boston discs. I'll take it over the rest of the score.")
20. "Take It in Your Stride" (Annie Get Your Gun), Dave Chapin. ("It would have become a standard had it stayed in.")
21. "Watching The Show" (The Times), Seth Christenfeld ("If this isn't one of the best songs ever written, I'll eat my hat.")
22. "With Bells On" (Twang!!), BwayMolly.

Below are others I would have been proud to have on my list, but I chose other selections from the same shows. In alphabetical order:

23. "All the Wasted Time" (Parade), Michelle Tidmore and Ryan DeFoe. ("The best theater score of the last five years--pun intended.")
24. "Crossword Puzzle" (Starting Here, Starting Now), Chelsea Jones.
25. "The Devil You Know" (Side Show), Craig Brockman.
26. "Finding Words for Spring" (Baker Street), Joe Meagor. ("What 'I Hear Bells' is to you, this song is to me.")
27. "Happy Habit" (By The Beautiful Sea), Neil677.
28. "He Makes Me Feel I'm Lovely" (Donnybrook), Stu Grossman.
29. "If I Could've Been" (Working), Frank Soldo. ("'It's An Art' is a great song and I totally get why it's on your list, but this one is more universal. For everyone who had to compromise his dreams to make a living: This song's for you.")
30. "I Leave the World" (Goodtime Charley), Rick Rogers.
31. "Next" (Pacific Overtures), John Connors. ("It rocks harder than any song to ever appear on Broadway that was not written by Pete Townshend.")
32. "Painting Her Portrait" (Jane Eyre), Roger Calderon.
33. "Someone in a Tree" (Pacific Overtures), Ryan DeFoe. ("Still Sondheim's best song.")
34. "Sunset Tree" (Darling of the Day), Jon Maas.
35. "Windflowers" (The Golden Apple), Allen Neuner, Andrew Milner, and Howard Marren. ("Simply beautiful, though a difficult song to make work. But when it! Have you ever heard Donna Bullock sing it? Breathtaking!")
36. "Under Separate Cover" (A Class Act), Matthew Murray. ("The way the story of the song builds, culminating in the pseudo love triangle of Lucy/Ed/Sophie--all positioned in a row--was heartstopping.")
37. "Under the Tree" (Celebration), Larry Tatelbaum.
38. "We Share Everything" (Side Show), Matthew Murray.
39. "Yellow Drum" (The Grass Harp), Michael Ladenson. ("Talk about infectious, this simple little march imprints itself on your brain.")
40. "You Should Be Loved" (Side Show), Jim Miller.

There are shows that I missed entirely. Worthy songs from them, in alphabetical order:

41. "And Eve Was Weak" (Carrie), Marcelo Kotliar.
42. "Deep Down Inside" (Little Me), Joe Geigel.
43. "Fifty Percent" (Ballroom), Morgan LaVere.
44. "Half a Moment" (Jeeves), BwayMolly. ("Yes, Jeeves, not By Jeeves, where the B section was changed because Andrew recycled it into Sunset.")
45. "The Heart Has Won The Game" (First Impressions), Stu Grossman.
46. "Her Face" (Carnival), Marcelo Kotliar.
47. "Hey Love" (Hot Spot), Neil677. ("This looked very promising in Philadelphia, when Judy Holliday had some energy left.")
48. "How Green Was My Valley" (A Time for Singing), Mike Kohler.
49. "I'm Not Afraid Of Anything" (Songs for a New World), Seth Christenfeld. ("Everyone performs 'Stars And The Moon.' It's a great song, yes, but why doesn't anyone ever do this overlooked gem?")
50. "In the Beginning" (Children of Eden), Bob Manasco.
51. "Is It The Girl (Or Is It The Gown)" (The Seven Lively Arts), Miss Witti Repartee.
52. "Johnny's Song" (Johnny Johnson), Chris Connelly.
53. "Lovers on Christmas Eve" (I Love My Wife), Jon Maas.
54. "Loving You" (Passion), Ryan De Foe ("The only thing I remember from the show--and I'm Sondheim's biggest fan!)
55. "Mama, a Rainbow" (Minnie's Boys), Robert Armin, Bill, Neil677, Ronni Krasnow.
56. "Nobody Needs to Know" (The Last 5 Years), Jason Flum.
57. "Nothing, Only Love" (King of Hearts), POLCCC.
58. "Oh, The Thinks You Can Think" (Seussical), Aman1016 and Ronni Krasnow.
59. "The Riddle Song" (Floyd Collins), Adam Ross Perlman.
60. "Rome" (Bravo, Giovanni), Ron Spivak.
61. "Sailing" (A New Brain), Craig Brockman.
62. "The Same Old South" (Meet the People), Betsy Miller.
63. "Shiksa Goddess" (The Last 5 Years), Adam Ross Perlman.
64. "Show You a Thing or Two " (Bat Boy), Cecelia R. Martori. ("A great takeoff on My Fair Lady")
65. "Shufflin' Sam" (Sitting Pretty), Bob Rendell.
66. "Since You Stayed Here" (Brownstone), Scott Cain. ("And Liz Callaway recorded it!")
67. "Someone To Dance With Me" (Summer of '42), Scott Cain.
68. "Something Somewhere" (Two by Two), Ron Fassler.
69. "Sorry for Myself" (Whoop-Up), Jerry DeFina. ("Yes, Whoop Up.")
70. "Sur Les Quais" (Lolita, My Love), Kevin Dawson.
71. "Sweet Thursday" (Pipe Dream), Chris Connelly.
72. "Teach Me Not to Love You" (Triumph of Love), Dorothy Brady. ("I know, 'Serenity' is more powerful, but this deserves to be the favorite because we lowly mortals can logically believe we could sing it.")
73. "That's How I Feel Tonight" (Ambassador), Neil677.
74. "Three Bedroom House" (Bat Boy), Craig Brockman, Nick Montesano.
75. "Tomorrow" (Leave It to Me!), John W. Griffin.
76. "Unsuspecting Hearts" (Carrie), Michael Barret Jones. ("A GORGEOUS song which Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley exposed to the world, so I'm not sure you'll count it because 15 people DID buy the second of their duets albums.")
77. "Uptown/Downtown" (The Wild Party), Matthew Murray. ("I could easily add countless songs from that show to this list--but this one encapsulates the core struggle of the races in 1928 New York and emphasizes the central struggle of the musical itself.")
78. "We Can Do Better Than That" (The Last 5 Years), Roger Calderon.
79. "When You Want Me" (Sail Away), William Hime.
80. "Words Without Music" (Ziegfeld Follies of 1936), Robert Armin.
81. "You Have Cast Your Shadow on the Sea" (The Boys from Syracuse), Howard Marren. ("What a bridge! The openness of the melody contrasting so beautifully with the tight chromatic structure of the A sections.")

And then there were the songs that I've since remembered:

82. "Another Memorable Meal" (Doonesbury).
83. "At the Fountain" (Sweet Smell of Success).
84. "Beauty Secrets" (Lola).
85. "Coney Island" (The It Girl).
86. "Forget About The Boy" (Thoroughly Modern Millie).
87. "How D'Ya Talk to a Girl?" (Walking Happy).
88. "I Want to Whisper" (Princess Jimmy).
89. "I Will Miss You" (Valmouth).
90. "Jubilee" (Mule Bone).
91. "Love Will Always" (Moby Dick).
92. "Nice Cold Morning" (Maggie Flynn).
93. "Jupiter Forbid" (By Jupiter).
94. "The Pickwickians" (Pickwick).
95. "Saul Has Slain His Thousands" (King David).
96. "Simply Heavenly" (Simply Heavenly).
97. "Something Different" (Passion Flower Hotel).
98. "Urinetown" (Urinetown).
99. "You Love Me" (Tovarich).
100. "You Could Not Please Me More" (I Remember Mama).

Finally, I most enjoyed what Peter Salomon wrote: "I'm not sure what songs I'd include, but what I do know is that if you ever record a CD of your list, I'd like to be first on the waiting list to buy the first pressing."


[To contact Peter Filichia directly, e-mail him at [email protected]]

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