Songs through the years for turning 50

Noticed while on iTunes the other night that Apple has gathering songs by year in its “iTunes Essentials” category. It’s a great way to find songs by year, and buy them to use in your tribute for someone turning 50 years old. What’s almost as much fun are the year-by-year facts iTunes includes, both about some of the songs and about things that happened that year. (I didn’t know Tang was introduced in 1957, which gives me fodder for a whole other post, on foods by year to be served at the party.) It can be a little tricky on iTunes to find this section. Start by searching for a year (1957, for example), then look in the TOP search window for the box that says “ITunes Essentials.” Then click “See All,” and get ready to have an audio trip down memory lane. (Remember to click “More Results” at the bottom of that page, if you don’t see the year you want.)

I picked 1975 — the year I graduated high school, the year I fell in love and had my heart broken, which was deserved since I helped do the breaking. I can remember singing the various parts of “Blackwater” by the Doobie Brothers riding with my theater pals up the Grand Concourse in the Bronx in my father’s New Yorker after rehearsal. And owning Springsteen’s “Born to Run” album and thinking, wow, now that’s COOL. (But I also owned “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet, which, uh , maybe isn’t that cool.)

I saw Earth, Wind, and Fire (“Shining Star”) in Madison Square Garden and was blown away. (That wasn’t 1975, maybe a year or so later.) I bought Pink Floyd’s Welcome to the Machine/Wish You Were Here and finally caught up to them. (I might be to only baby boomer who doesn’t own “Dark Side of the Moon.”)

I remember my girlfriend crying at Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen,” and me not understanding, perhaps my first lesson in Venus and Mars.

And I even admit to dancing disco downstairs at Wednesday’s to Frankie Valli “My Eyes Adored You”…and Damien playing John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” in Fordham’s cafeteria over and over until we almost started a rumble.

Wow, that’s a lot of memories for just one year — and I didn’t even mention “Bungle in the Jungle,” which always reminds me of seeing Jethro Tull at Shea Stadium a year or two later and almost dying on the ride home when my friend spun out his car in the rain.

All of us in that car lived, and are still alive. And all have or are turning 50.