Have you ever thought about what you would want a child or someone in the future to learn about a specific item that creates a foundation for concerning knowledge or opinions? This came to mind after I entered my home for lunch and noticed my son and daughter listening to “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. 

This all started after my wife asked my son a question about a song. My son had mentioned that he had never heard of the song or the group and my wife was in shock. So, the TV turned into a jukebox of hits from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

This got me thinking about what songs I feel my kids should know. While mumble rap, pop and highly-produced country music dominate the airwaves, I want my kids to know several different generations of music and understand what some of the current generation is rooted in. While this is my list, I know that I will miss several songs that others would put on theirs, so bare with me.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” - The Beatles

There are too many songs from The Beatles that I would lay as the foundation, but this is a nice, basic start. And as my compadre Mat Holding Eagle says give them the shovel and hope they dig deeper.

“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” - Beastie Boys

I think kids are always looking for rebellious music and this is a good introduction to rap/hip-hop. Relatively safe lyrics (not that I am going to let my kids listen to this until they are older) and strong rhymes.

“Paranoid” - Black Sabbath

One of the best guitar riffs to begin a song from one of the best heavy metal bands of all time. This personifies what loud, distorted rock is supposed to be.

“Superstition” - Stevie Wonder

I just think that this is a great song overall and believe that it makes pianists look cool. Also, Wonder’s vocals bring a lot of emotion to the song.

“Folsom Prison Blues” - Johnny Cash

A good start for anyone looking into country music’s past. Other Cash hits should follow but this song lends itself both to a storytelling aspect and into my favorite version of country music — outlaw country.

“Old Time Rock and Roll” - Bob Seger

Another classic. Can’t beat having BSSB get you out of your seat and start to dance.

“1999” - Prince

A fun tune by Minnesota’s finest. Although the lyrical content is a little bleak, most people don’t think about the song meaning and just enjoy saying they are going to party like its 1999.

“Thriller” - Michael Jackson

I not only enjoy the song, but the music video that accompanies it. For anyone looking to get into pop music, this is awesome. You really can’t beat zombies and cool dance moves.

“Paradise City” - Gun N’ Roses

A good starting point for those looking to get into that late 1980s, early ’90s vibe. A band that jammed hard and burned out fast. 

“Symphony of Destruction” - Megadeth

Another awesome song with great riffs. You could substitute a Metallica song but I have always been more of a Megadeth guy.

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” - The Clash

While punk music may be hard to listen to for younger kids, most have heard this song. Tempo changes and a chorus you can sing along to.

“Sweet Caroline” - Neil Diamond

I joked with my son that he should learn this song because he will be singing it in high school at sporting events. This is a great crowd-pleasing song and if you like it, you might like more Neil Diamond tunes (I know that I do).

“Thunderstruck” - AC/DC

When I think of classic hard rock, I always go to AC/DC. “Thunderstruck” may be the pinnacle of the Brian Johnson era and is another song that the crowd can sing along with.

“Like A Rolling Stone” - Bob Dylan

Last, but surely not least, is another Minnesota legend Bob Dylan. He is one of the best songwriters in rock/folk music ever and I think it would be a disservice to anyone looking to create a foundation to not have at least one  of his songs on the list.

Although I could continue to add, I am out of space. But if I were to tell someone about where they should go to start their music foundation, I would put these at the top of my list.


Zach Stich is the managing editor of The Daily Journal.

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