Listening to The Ballad in American Popular Music


I have put together Spotify playlists for the songs covered in The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé. There is a playlist for each chapter or interlude, and the songs appear in the order in which they are discussed. Given the many cover songs, I have included both cover and original versions of the songs. Enjoy.

Introduction: What is a Ballad? (Open in Spotify)

  1. The Carpenters, “Goodbye to Love”
  2. Barbra Streisand, “The Way We Were”
  3. James Brown, “Please, Please, Please”
  4. Alicia Keys, “Fallin’”
  5. Rihanna, Mikky Ekko, “Stay”
  6. Dionne Warwick, “A House is Not a Home”
  7. Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
  8. Britney Spears, “Sometimes”
  9. Pink, “Try”
  10. Harry Connick, Jr., “If I Only Had a Brain”
  11. Willie Nelson, “Always on My Mind”
  12. Pet Shop Boys, “Always on My Mind”
  13. Roy Orbison, “Crying”
  14. k.d. lang, “Crying”
  15. Marvin Gaye, “Let’s Get It On”
  16. Isaac Hayes, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”
  17. TLC, “Waterfalls”
  18. Wings, “Silly Love Songs”
  19. The Four Aces, “Love is a Many Splendored Thing”
  20. Eric Clapton, “Tears in Heaven”
  21. Green Day, “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

Chapter One: The 1950s (Open in Spotify)

  1. Elvis Presley, “I Was the One”
  2. Elvis Presley, “My Happiness”
  3. Elvis Presley, “Blue Moon”
  4. Elvis Presley, “Young and Beautiful”
  5. Elvis Presley, “Don’t”
  6. Elvis Presley, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
  7. Elvis Presley, “I Need You So”
  8. Elvis Presley, “Love Me Tender”
  9. Little Richard, “I’m Just a Lonely Guy”
  10. Pat Boone, “I’ll Be Home”
  11. Pat Boone, “Love Letters in the Sand”
  12. Pat Boone, “I Almost Lost My Mind”
  13. Ivory Joe Hunter, “I Almost Lost My Mind”
  14. The Platters, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”
  15. Fats Domino, “I’m in the Mood for Love”
  16. Connie Francis, “Who’s Sorry Now?”
  17. Wanda Jackson, “Fujiyama Mama”
  18. Ray Anthony and His Orchestra, “Dream”
  19. Frankie Avalon, “Where Are You”
  20. Nat King Cole, “When I Fall in Love”
  21. Doris Day, “Secret Love”
  22. Frank Sinatra, “Only the Lonely”
  23. Johnnie Ray, “Cry”
  24. Johnnie Ray, “The Little White Cloud That Cried”
  25. Bing Crosby, “I Cried for You”
  26. Paul Anka, “Puppy Love”
  27. The Griffin Brothers, “Weepin’ and Cryin’”
  28. Roy Brown, “Hard Luck Blues”
  29. Roy Brown, “Laughing but Crying”
  30. LaVern Baker, “I Cried a Tear”

Interlude I: Patsy Cline, "Crazy" (Open in Spotify)

  1. Patsy Cline, “Crazy”
  2. Patsy Cline, “I Fall to Pieces”
  3. Patsy Cline, “Sweet Dreams”
  4. Patsy Cline, “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray”
  5. Jim Reeves, “Four Walls”
  6. Jim Reeves, “Then I’ll Stop Loving You”
  7. Ferlin Husky, “Gone”
  8. Don Gibson, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”
  9. Brenda Lee, “I’m Sorry”
  10. Eddy Arnold, “Make the World Go Away”
  11. Willie Nelson, “Crazy”
  12. Floyd Tillman, “I Gotta Have My Baby Back”

Chapter Two: The Soul Ballad (Open in Spotify)

  1. Sam Cooke, “Lovable”
  2. Sam Cooke, “You Send Me”
  3. Sam Cooke, Soul—Hidden Track
  4. Sam Cooke, “A Change is Gonna Come”
  5. Ray Charles, “I Got a Woman”
  6. Ray Charles, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”
  7. Ray Charles, “You Don’t Know Me”
  8. Don Gibson, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”
  9. Eddy Arnold, “You Don’t Know Me”
  10. Etta James, “At Last”
  11. Otis Redding, “These Arms of Mine”
  12. Otis Redding, “My Lover’s Prayer”
  13. Otis Redding, “Try a Little Tenderness”
  14. Otis Redding, “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay”
  15. Otis Redding, “A Change is Gonna Come”
  16. Bing Crosby, “Try a Little Tenderness”
  17. Aretha Franklin, “Skylark”
  18. Aretha Franklin, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”
  19. Aretha Franklin,  “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
  20. Aretha Franklin, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”
  21. Aretha Franklin, “Ain’t No Way”
  22. Aretha Franklin, “A Brand New Me”
  23. Aretha Franklin, “A Change is Gonna Come”
  24. Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On”
  25. The Impressions, “People Get Ready”

Interlude II: It Still Hurts. . . (Open in Spotify)

  1. The Everly Brothers, “Love Hurts”
  2. The Everly Brothers, “Love Hurts”
  3. Roy Orbison, “Love Hurts”
  4. Gram Parsons, “Love Hurts”
  5. Nazareth, “Love Hurts”
  6. R.E.M., “Everybody Hurts”
  7. R.E.M., “Try Not to Breathe”
  8. Patti Smith, “Everybody Hurts”
  9. Helping Haiti, “Everybody Hurts”
  10. Paul Potts, “Ognuno Soffre”

Chapter Three: The Power Ballad (Open in Spotify)

  1. Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”
  2. Dolly Parton, “I Will Always Love You”
  3. Barry Manilow, “Mandy”
  4. Barry Manilow, “Weekend in New England”
  5. Melissa Manchester, “Through the Eyes of Love”
  6. Dionne Warwick, “I’ll Never Love This Way Again”
  7. Debby Boone, “You Light Up My Life”
  8. Neil Diamond, “Hello Again”
  9. Kenny Rogers, “Through the Years”
  10. REO Speedwagon, “Keep on Loving You”
  11. Journey, “Who’s Crying Now”
  12. Journey, “Open Arms”
  13. Heart, “What About Love?”
  14. Heart, “These Dreams”
  15. Mötley Crüe, “Home Sweet Home”
  16. Guns N’Roses, “November Rain”
  17. Warrant, “Heaven”
  18. Poison, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
  19. Aerosmith, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”
  20. Whitney Houston, “Greatest Love of All”
  21. Whitney Houston, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”
  22. Whitney Houston, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”
  23. Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, “One Sweet Day”
  24. Céline Dion, “My Heart Will Go On”
  25. Céline Dion, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”
  26. Josh Groban, “You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)”
  27. Il Divo, “Regresa a Mi (Unbreak My Heart)”
  28. Miley Cyrus, “The Climb”
  29. 29 Joe McElderry, “The Climb”
  30. Charice, “Note to God”
  31. Kelly Clarkson, “A Moment Like This”
  32. Christina Aguilera, “Beautiful”
  33. Mariah Carey, “Hero”
  34. R. Kelly, “I Believe I Can Fly”
  35. Idina Menzel, “Let it Go”

Interlude III: Sarah McLachlan, “Angel” (Open in Spotify)

  1. Sarah McLachlan, “Angel”
  2. James Taylor, “Fire and Rain”
  3. Jimi Hendrix, “Purple Haze”
  4. Jefferson Airplane, “White Rabbit”
  5. The Velvet Underground, “Heroin”
  6. Johannes Brahms, “Wiegenlied (Lullaby)”

Interlude IV: Hip Hop Ballads (Open in Spotify)

  1. LL Cool J, “I Need Love”
  2. LL Cool J, Boyz II Men, “Hey Lover”
  3. LL Cool J. “Luv U Better”
  4. Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, “Holy Grail”
  5. Drake, “Marvin’s Room”

Chapter Four: Indie Ballads (Open in Spotify)

  1. Elliott Smith, “Miss Misery”
  2. Céline Dion, “My Heart Will Go On”
  3. Beyoncé, “Flawless”
  4. Elliott Smith, “Waltz #1”
  5. Elliott Smith, “Waltz #2 (XO)”
  6. Elliott Smith, “Between the Bars”
  7. Sufjan Stevens, “To Be Alone With You”
  8. Regina Spektor, “Samson”
  9. Cat Power, “Wild is the Wind”
  10. Johnny Mathis, “Wild is the Wind”
  11. Tori Amos, “Raining Blood”
  12. Slayer, “Raining Blood”
  13. Tori Amos, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
  14. Nirvana, “Smells Lie Teen Spirit”
  15. Cat Power, “Sea of Love”
  16. Phil Phillips, “Sea of Love”
  17. The Magnetic Fields, “The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure”
  18. The Magnetic Fields, “When My Boy Walks Down the Street”
  19. The Magnetic Fields, “A Pretty Girl is Like. . .”
  20. Rudy Vallee, “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody”
  21. The Magnetic Fields, “Papa Was a Rodeo”
  22. The Magnetic Fields, “The Book of Love”

Interlude V: I Confess (Open in Spotify)

  1. Adele, “Someone Like You”
  2. Frank Ocean, “Bad Religion”
  3. Claudio Monteverdi, “Lamento della ninfa”
  4. The National, “Sorrow”
  5. Kanye West,  “Runaway”
  6. Joni Mitchell, “Little Green”
  7. Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain”

Conclusion: Goodbye (Open in Spotify)

  1. George Strait, “Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye”
  2. Willie Nelson, ‘You Wouldn’t Cross the Street to Say Goodbye”
  3. The Manhattans, “Kiss and Say Goodbye”
  4. Usher, “Final Goodbye”
  5. Bon Jovi, “Never Say Goodbye”