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The best music and songs list in history

Updated on December 21, 2015

Personal and subjective choices

I've just updated this hub with a terrific video of Bobby McFerrin - check it out below!

If you are a musician you could try learning the jazz standards listed. There is a miniature music lesson contained in each piece, so memorize as much as possible. For me, a track by Weather Report entitled "A Remark You Made" takes a lot of beating- see below.

If you're not really into jazz, you might need to listen to it a few times as it's complex music and a lot of the effect is from the changing textures in the music. It features a bass solo from Jaco Pastorius, one of the all-time greats.

Single best song - My Funny Valentine (Rodgers and Hart)

Other contenders:

The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael)

Embracable You (Gershwin)

These three songs really stand out from the standards, due to their wonderful chord progressions, strong melodies, and inventive lyrics. They are tunes that are constantly reworked and re-recorded, and also give a strong enough harmony to support endless improvisations.

Best orchestral work - Rodrigo, Adagio from Concierto De Aranjuez. It's got Spain written all over it, in a good way.The Jim Hall jazz version is terrific, and by some strange fluke of nature it costs $2.60 for the album! That's only about 3 cents per thousand notes! Please buy it, you can't go wrong. Jim Hall is an American national treasure, though I'm not sure he is recognised as such. You also have Paul Desmond of Take Five fame improvising on the track.

My new hub entitled Great Music - Rodrigo and Jim Hall has a video of this piece.

The Paco De Lucia version is great too, an amazing interpretation with a fantastic orchestra.

Other great music- The end (ballad) section of Layla, which I believe is called Peaches and Cream. Here Comes the Sun. The guitar break in Badge (Cream with George Harrison)

John Coltrane version of My Favourite Things

Although I don't like all of his compositions I must admit that Mike Stern is brilliant. Check out the Voices album, also Who Let The Dogs Out. These albums feature fantastic solos, with very strong melodies and harmony.

Bobby McFerrin sings Bach

Paco De Lucia Aranjuez

Best compositions and songs

  • Duke Ellington: East St.Louis Toodle-oo, Take the A Train, In a Mellow Tone
  • Antonio Jobim: How Insensitive (Insensatez)
  • Thelonius Monk: Blue Monk, Round Midnight
  • JS Bach: Air on a G string, Brandenburg concertos, cello suites. Prelude in C.
  • The Beatles: Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields Forever, A Day in The Life, In My Life, For no-one, I Will, Yesterday,We Can Work it Out, Blackbird, Here there and everywhere.
  • Joni Mitchell: Refuge of the Roads, Edith and the Kingpin, A Case of You.
  • Erik Satie: Gnossiennes,Gymnopedies
  • The Beach Boys: God Only Knows
  • Rodrigo: Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio)
  • Raglan Road (Trad.Irish)
  • Arthur McBride (Paul Brady version)
  • Night Passage (Forcione)
  • A Remark You Made (Weather Report)
  • Leonard Cohen- Famous Blue Raincoat (Jennifer Warnes version)

  • Up on the Roof - Carole King, James Taylor version
  • Randy Newman - Still the same girl, Feels Like Home, Jolly Coppers on Parade.

  • Django Reinhardt: Tears, Nuages, Manoir De Mes Reves (see my hub Django's legacy)

  • John Coltrane - My Favourite Things

  • Love's in need of love today (Stevie Wonder)

    Cole Porter - Ev'ry Time We say Goodbye

  • Standards:
  • All the Things You Are
  • My Funny Valentine
  • Embraceable You
  • The Nearness of You
  • Take Five
  • Autumn Leaves
  • Bewitched,Bothered and Bewildered
  • Over the Rainbow
  • Someone to Watch Over Me
  • Day in the Life of a Fool
  • How Insensitive
  • I'm Old Fashioned
  • With a Song in My Heart
  • The Way you look Tonight.

Greatest improvisers (random order)

  1. Art Pepper, especially the later years - terrific sax and clarinet soloist.
  2. Robben Ford, a brilliant blues and jazz guitarist
  3. Django Reinhardt,the original guitar superstar from the 1930s, still revered today
  4. Bireli Lagrene,the most recent the better - don't like his child prodigy stuff, but now he is great. Gypsy Jazz lives on!
  5. Art Tatum,amazing piano player from back in the day.
  6. Miles Davis, massively influential jazz trumpet.
  7. John Coltrane,one of the greatest sax players,but prone to playing weird stuff!
  8. Charlie Parker, - mostly on Youtube.

Less well known greats

  1. Antonio Forcione (guitar)
  2. Danny Gatton (guitar)
  3. Mike Stern (guitar)
  4. Lyle Mays (piano)
  5. Richard Bona (bass)
  6. Jaco Pastorius (bass)
  7. Ted Greene (guitar)
  8. Jim Hall (guitar)
  9. John Scofield (guitar)
  10. Debashish Bhattacharya (Indian slide guitar!)

Great writers from yesteryear

  • Fats Waller
  • Louis Jordan
  • Harry Warren
  • Jerome Kern
  • Cole Porter
  • Hoagy Carmichael

Too many great songs to list here, but essential listening, with great lyrics. A good place to start is always the Ella Fitzgerald version from the Songbooks series. Try some web shopping for Ella CDs - many musicians agree they're the best source for accurate versions of the great standards from the American songbook.

World's best jazz singer?


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    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane are probably my favourites - but even this combination on one single wasn't enough for the record-buying public as it never made No.1 in the UK charts!

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 6 years ago from Virginia

      The Beatles are timeless. My two teenagers love them.

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Someone to Watch Over Me - just a terrific tune. Also Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered is great to play. If you look at youtube, there are many different versions of classic songs.

    • profile image

      McCoy 6 years ago

      Beautiful choices of for no-one and I will by the Beatles. Im also in love with someone to watch over me

    • profile image

      klarawieck 7 years ago

      That's what I call good music!

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 7 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      I missed Tuck and Patti off the list somehow - great musicians to check out if you are not familiar with their albums.

    • profile image

      akhil 7 years ago

      g888888888888 !!!!!!!!

    • music messenger profile image

      music messenger 7 years ago

      Good artists and songs. I agree. I have music reviews and info on my hub you might enjoy. Stop by. I voted.

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 7 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi illkid - Can't believe I missed that one, it's one of the best. Cheers, Jon

    • illkid_88 profile image

      illkid_88 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow Jon, you and I have a lot in common! Robben Ford is also one my favourite guitarists. I especially loved his work from his early days playing in the Yellow Jackets. I would maybe add All The Things You Are to the list of great standards ; )

    • moondive profile image

      moondive 7 years ago from Modena,Italy

      Yes he does but he stil composing. Cheers:)

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 7 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi moondive, you've just added a touch of glamour to the comments box! Will check them out, I think Jason had some awful disease? Cheers, Jon

    • moondive profile image

      moondive 7 years ago from Modena,Italy

      This is great hub! Do you like Jason Becker or Michael Romeo?

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Thanks ixwa, will do.

    • ixwa profile image

      ixwa 8 years ago

      Sketches of Spain By Miles; Rahsaan Roland Kirk's Raped Voices; Thelonious Monk's Blue Monk. In fact, you should check out my Internet Station called FASTTRACKS on, I am sure you'll find a lot through listening. Please contact me if you do through the station's Shout Out or email. Great Hub!

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Yes, they're both great tunes. Something that you may not know (I didn"t) is that The Real Book is now available as an app on the i-phone - as of yesterday the new one is much faster (i-phoneS). I've heard of people using it on the bandstand through a sat nav sized screen! So Ellington is now in cyberspace too.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Good choice from Ellington (and Billy Strayhorn). My favourites would include Mood Indigo and Sophisticated Lady. But he did so much.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      true, but descending :)

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi Paraglider - that's a fair point, will act on it.

      Minor 6th - yes, but Love story theme (Where Do I Begin) is another one I reckon.

      Cheers, Jon Green

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      What, no Ellington? I saw the Duke live in Glasgow and remember it to this day. Johnny Hodges (alto) was already dead but Harry Carney (baritone) was still going strong.

      Day in the Life of a Fool - I reckon it's the only well known melody where the first two notes form a minor sixth. Over to you?

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 9 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi Kosmo. Forgot to include Pat Metheny,one of my favourites. Recently saw Bob Brozman on slide guitar who was excellent, and a great teacher too. His playing is all over youtube. Cheers, JG

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 9 years ago from California

      I'm definitely one to compile lists regarding music, particularly rock and jazz. Thanks for mentioning Miles Davis and John Scofield, who once played and recorded together in the early eighties. Please check out my hubs!