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American music playlist, 120 songs for your next dinner party

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A recent inquiry to this writer sought music suggestions for a dinner party with guests from a wide range of countries. Knowing that many of the guests would only be familiar with the current hit parade of mainstream American music, the challenge presented was to compile a playlist of songs from American artists suitable for a dinner party and representing the wide diversity found in American music.


The resulting playlist runs chronologically beginning with Scott Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag,’ first published in 1899 and concluding with Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’ from their influential 1991 album, Nevermind. This 120 song playlist is estimated to last a minimum of 9 hours. That should be plenty of time for a multi-course meal and several bottles of wine, providing the perfect backdrop for miles of conversation.

100 American Music Selections to Dine By

  1. Scott Joplin - Maple Leaf Rag
  2. Bessie Smith - Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
  3. Duke Ellington Orch - It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing
  4. Billie Holiday - Summertime
  5. The Andrews Sisters - Chattanooga Choo Choo
  6. Lena Horne - Stormy Weather
  7. Dinah Shore - Buttons & Bows
  8. Les Paul & Mary Ford - How High The Moon
  9. Woody Guthrie - Car Song
  10. Brother Bones and His Shadows - Sweet Georgia Brown (Harlem Globetrotters theme song)
  11. Ella Fitzgerald - You'll Have To Swing It (Mr. Paganini)
  12. Charlie Parker - Parker’s Mood
  13. Dean Martin - That's Amore
  14. Tony Bennett - Rags To Riches
  15. Clifton Chenier - Ay Tite Fille (Hey, Little Girl)
  16. Bill Monroe - Orange Blossom Special
  17. Johnny Ace - Pledging My Love
  18. Hank Williams - Hey Good Lookin’
  19. Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy
  20. Chuck Berry - You Never Can Tell
  21. Bill Haley & The Comets - Rock Around The Clock
  22. Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons
  23. Ritchie Valens - Donna
  24. Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill
  25. Elvis Presley - Don't Be Cruel
  26. Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls Of Fire
  27. Buddy Holly - Not Fade Away
  28. Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley
  29. Gene Vincent - Be Bop A Lula
  30. Sam Cooke - You Send Me
  31. Peggy Lee - Fever
  32. Bobby Darin - Mack The Knife
  33. Ben E King - Stand By Me
  34. Del Shannon - Runaway
  35. Etta James - At Last
  36. Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire
  37. Howlin’ Wolf - Wang Dang Doodle
  38. John Coltrane - Blue Train (part 1)
  39. Miles Davis - So What
  40. Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind
  41. Louis Armstrong - Hello Dolly
  42. The Ronettes - Be My Baby
  43. Roy Orbison - Oh, Pretty Woman
  44. Marvin Gaye - How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
  45. Four Tops - I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)
  46. James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good)
  47. Wilson Pickett - In The Midnight Hour
  48. Tom Jones - It's Not Unusual
  49. Roger Miller - King Of The Road
  50. Bob Dylan - Like A Rolling Stone
  51. The Temptations - My Girl
  52. Beach Boys - California Girls
  53. Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
  54. Martha And The Vandellas - Jimmy Mack
  55. Aretha Franklin - Respect
  56. Neil Diamond - Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon
  57. The 5th Dimension - Up, Up And Away
  58. Box Tops - The Letter
  59. Jimi Hendrix - The Wind Cries Mary
  60. The Doors - Light My Fire
  61. Mason Williams - Classical Gas
  62. Dusty Springfield - Son of a Preacher Man
  63. Otis Redding - (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
  64. Classics IV - Spooky
  65. CCR - Suzy Q
  66. Tommy James & The Shondells - Crimson & Clover
  67. Frank Sinatra - My Way
  68. Stevie Wonder - My Cherie Amour
  69. B.J. Thomas - Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
  70. CSN - Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
  71. Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
  72. Santana - Black Magic Woman
  73. Jackson 5 - A-B-C
  74. Tony Orlando & Dawn - Knock Three Times
  75. Peter Paul & Mary - Leaving On A Jet Plane
  76. Ferrante & Teicher - Midnight Cowboy
  77. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Mr. Bojangles
  78. Sly & The Family Stone - Thank You (falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
  79. B.B. King - The Thrill Is Gone
  80. Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs - Foggy Mountain Breakdown
  81. Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up
  82. Bill Withers - Ain’t No Sunshine
  83. Melanie - Brand New Key
  84. Three Dog Night - Joy To The World
  85. Janis Joplin - Me And Bobby McGee
  86. The Osmonds - One Bad Apple
  87. Cat Stevens - Peace Train
  88. Grateful Dead - Truckin’
  89. Don McLean - American Pie
  90. America - Ventura Highway
  91. The Velvet Underground - Who Loves The Sun
  92. Simon & Garfunkel - America
  93. Carly Simon - Anticipation
  94. Arlo Guthrie - City Of New Orleans
  95. Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show - The Cover Of The Rolling Stone
  96. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen - Hot Rod Lincoln
  97. Chicago - Saturday In The Park
  98. Seals And Crofts - Summer Breeze
  99. Eagles - Take It Easy
  100. Leon Russell - Tight Rope
  101. Jim Croce - Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
  102. Little Feat - Dixie Chicken
  103. ZZ Top - Waitin’ For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago
  104. Allman Brothers - Ramblin’ Man
  105. War -Cisco Kid
  106. Aerosmith - Dream On
  107. Edgar WInter Group - Frankenstein
  108. Gladys Knight and The Pips - Midnight Train To Georgia
  109. Dr. John - Right Place, Wrong Time
  110. Steve Miller Band - The Joker
  111. Boz Scaggs - Lowdown
  112. Emmylou Harris - Two More Bottles Of Wine
  113. The Blasters - American Music
  114. Bruce Springsteen Cadillac Ranch
  115. Prince - Little Red Corvette
  116. Stevie Ray Vaughan - Pride And Joy
  117. Tina Turner - What’s Love Got To Do With It
  118. Michael Jackson - The Way You Make Me Feel
  119. R.E.M. - Man On The Moon
  120. Nirvana - Come As You Are

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