My book The B-Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song (Riverhead, 2015) is about, among other things, the demise of “Great American Songbook”–the collection of great standards written by Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, and others between the 1920s and the 1950s. But the end of the Songbook didn’t mean the end of great songs. The goal of this site is to formulate a list of entries in a New American Songbook: post-1960 tunes that have the qualities of melodic and lyrical sophistication that characterized the earlier standards, that have been interestingly interpreted by a variety of singers and musicians, and that–crucially–seem destined to last.
This is admittedly a subjective exercise and I’d like your feedback. If you agree or don’t agree with a song I’ve nominated, please say so in the comments. You can nominate songs there, too, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and lay it on me.
Ben Yagoda teaches English, journalism and writing at the University of Delaware, and is the author, coauthor or editor of twelve books, including About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made and How to Not Write Bad. He has written for Slate.com, the New York Times Book Review and Magazine, The American Scholar, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and many other publications. He contributes to “Lingua Franca,” a Chronicle of Higher Education blog about language and writing and “Draft,”a New York Times blog about the art of writing. His personal blog is “Not One-Off Britishisms.” He lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.