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The Perils Of Picking Just Three

Soundcheck host John Schaefer was recently asked to choose his three favorite songs. And his head nearly exploded.

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 11:30 AM

Simon Critchley's new book, 'Bowie,' explores the songs of David Bowie. Simon Critchley's new book, 'Bowie,' explores the songs of David Bowie. (Courtesy of the Artist)

You may have noticed that we have a recurring feature on Soundcheck called Pick 3, where we invite a guest -- often someone from outside the music world -- to play three favorite songs for us. These segments are fun (or so I thought) and often tell us as much about the guest as they do about the music. 

But recently, the tables were turned: I was asked to come up with my own three-song playlist for an online audio and video project called simply Three Pieces.  Here, various musicians and related folks, including guitarist John McLaughlin, Kronos Quartet founder David Harrington, and Russian composer Vladimir Martynov, offer three favorite works and explain, on camera, why they're important. 

So now I had to wrestle with a list of songs, trying to whittle it down to just three; and suddenly, I felt a pang of guilt for putting all our Pick 3 guests through this ordeal. Three songs?!? How do you distill a lifetime of listening down to three songs?

Well, I came up with a list I was relatively happy with -- and in this context, "happy" is a very relative word indeed.




And then I saw that Kronos' David Harrington had somehow gotten away with a list of, like, a gazillion songs. Okay, seven.  And the Three Pieces folks seem to have posted videos of him talking about only three.  Still, Seven Pieces would've been a helluva lot easier. 

So, what would be on your list of three songs? Tell us in the comments section, or on Twitter


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Comments [4]

louis wolff from billings, montana

whoa!-3 songs-i'll list the 3 I think I've listened to the most over a half century of absolutely loving music-1, so what by miles-2, Beethoven's 6th symphony-3, madame George by van Morrison-I could go on and on but it's just 3-my goodness how about casta diva by renatto scotto-thanks for the challenge lw

Jul. 22 2013 06:43 PM
Arthur from NJ

I've thought about this before. My picks are:

"I Can't Get Next to You" by The Temptations and written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong

"Tangled Up in Blue" by Bob Dylan.

"The Return of Jimi Hendrix" by Mike Scott

Jun. 10 2013 10:26 PM
David Quinn from Sleepy Hollow Country

Three? Whoah! I'd lose sleep over that. I thought 99 SONGS I WANNA HEAR AT MY WAKE pared it down!

(Sections in progress at

Nice choices, though!

Jun. 10 2013 02:53 PM
Jeremy Shatan from NYC

One difference between this project and your own Pick Three series is that you ask (usually) for three songs the person is listening to now, not necessarily three all time favorites. The latter assignment is much more difficult - I'll let you know if I can answer it to my satisfaction!

Jun. 10 2013 01:56 PM

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