The AMBQ playlist—50+ “question” songs

(compiled via Spotify by Warren Berger)

When I was writing A More Beautiful Question, or, more accurately when I was procrastinating from writing the book, I began compiling this list of songs that have to do with questions (often in the title) AND that I like (for the most part).

Has turned out to be a great playlist for keeping me going during the promotion time for the book.

The songs aren’t in any particular order, except that sometimes one song title makes sense following the one before. Below the Spotify player is my annotated list, with the full list of 50 or so titles (Spotify didn’t have some of them).

Enjoy, and I invite you to add to this list in the comments. (Related: My Reading List)

{Use the scroll bar to see all the songs ↓}

My annotated list

  • “What’s so funny ’bout Peace, Love & Understanding?” (Elvis Costello – personal favorite)
  • “Does anybody really know what time it is?”  (Chicago)
  • “Where have all the flowers gone?” (in honor of the man, Pete Seeger)
  • Moody Blues – these guys were big-time questioners – “Are you sitting comfortably?” & “Isn’t life strange?” (and the all-time great question song, “Question”—though technically, it doesn’t have a question title).
  • Creedence Clearwater – believe it or not, they did 2 question songs BOTH about rain!  “Who’ll stop the rain?” & “Have you ever seen the rain?”
  • “Should I stay or should I go?” (Clash)
  • “What’s the frequency Kenneth?” (REM)
  • “What’s your name?” – (Skynyrd)
  •  “Are you experienced?” (Jimi Hendrix)
  • “Who will save your soul?”  (Jewell)
  • “How can you mend a broken heart?” & “How deep is your love?” (Bee Gees)
  • “Have you seen your mother baby?” & “Doncha wanna live with me?” (Stones)
  • “Tell me why?”  (Neil Young)
  • “When will I be loved?”  (Linda Ronstadt)
  • “What is life?” & “Isn’t it a pity?” (George Harrison)
  • “Where is the love?” (two different songs – Roberta Flack; Black Eyed Peas)
  • “Where did our love go?” & “Do you know where you’re going to?” (Diana Ross)
  • “Who let the dogs out?” (by who knows who, and who cares)
  • “Have you ever loved a woman?”  (Clapton)
  • “Why does it hurt when I pee?” (Zappa)
  • “Why do fools fall in love?” (Frankie Lymon)
  •  “Do you love me?” (two different songs – Dave Clark Five; Guster)
  • “Will you still love me tomorrow?” (Shirelles)
  • “Do you feel like we do?” (Frampton)
  • “Do you know what I mean?” (Lee Michaels)
  • “What’s goin on?” (Marvin Gaye)
  • “How long has this been going on?” (Ace)
  • “War – (what is it good for?)”
  • “Is she really going out with him?”  (Joe Jackson)
  • “Where to now, St. Peter?” (Elton John)
  • “Where’s the orchestra?” (Billy Joel)
  • “Do you want to know a secret?” & “Why don’t we do it in the road?” (Beatles) those versions not available on the Spotify playlist
  • “Why don’t you love me like you used to do?” (Hank Williams)
  • “Doesn’t anybody stay together anymore?” (Phil Collins)
  •  “Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?” (from “So Far Away” by Carole King)
  • “Isn’t she lovely?” (Stevie Wonder)
  • “Wouldn’t it be nice?” (Beach Boys)
  • “How will I know?” (Whitney Houston)
  • “How can I be sure?” (Young Rascals)
  • “Who wrote the book of love?” (The Monotones)
  • Special question-songwriting honors to Hal David – “What’s It All About Alfie?” & “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” & “What’s New Pussycat?”

New additions to the list:

  • “Do you believe in magic?” (The Lovin’ Spoonful)
  • “Who’s zoomin who?” (Aretha Franklin)
  • “Could you be loved?” (Bob Marley)
  • “Am I wrong?” (Nico & Vinz)
  • “Why does love got to be so sad?” (Derek & The Dominos)
  • “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?” (Louis Jordan)
  • “Why can’t we be friends?” (War)
  • “Do you wanna dance?” (Bobby Freeman/Beach Boys)
  • “Do you really want to hurt me?” (Culture Club)

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About the Author

Journalist and speaker Warren Berger realized that the majority of successful creatives and entrepreneurs he was interviewing over the years were great questioners. His wondering about "How can we all learn to do what they do?” led to this website and the writing of his latest book, A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts here.

19 Beautiful Comments

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  1. Yvonne says:

    Amazing list! I am using it to teach question words for ESL speakers. I would love to see a list like this of the grammar of Beatles songs for my students. Thanks for creating this!

      

    • Barbara says:

      Yvonne, do you mean something like the following?

      Imperatives:

      All Together Now
      Ask Me Why
      Carry That Weight
      Come Together
      Don’t Bother Me
      Don’t Let Me Down
      Don’t Pass Me By
      Get Back
      Help!
      Hold Me Tight
      Honey Don’t
      Let It Be
      Love Me Do
      Slow Down
      Tell Me What You See
      Tell Me Why
      Think for Yourself
      Wait

      (There are a few other imperative titles, but they are used in another sense in the body of the songs themselves.)

      Complete Sentences:

      All You Need Is Love
      Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
      Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby
      Happiness Is a Warm Gun
      Here Comes the Sun
      I Am the Walrus (and virtually every song that begins with “I,” “I’m,” and “I’ve”)
      It Won’t Be Long
      It’s All Too Much
      It’s Only Love
      She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
      She Loves You
      She’s a Woman
      She’s Leaving Home
      There’s a Place
      Tomorrow Never Knows
      We Can Work It Out
      You Can’t Do That [and virtually every song that begins with “You,” “You’re,” and “You’ve”)

      Songs that are missing a subject:

      Can’t Buy Me Love
      Dig a Pony
      Fixing a Hole
      Getting Better
      Only a Northern Song

      Songs that need punctuation:

      Roll Over Beethoven
      Baby It’s You
      Cry Baby Cry
      Here There and Everywhere
      Hey Bulldog
      Hey Jude
      Honey Don’t
      I Me Mine
      Please Mr. Postman
      Rock and Roll Music
      Thank You Girl
      Yes It Is

      🙂 What fun!

        

  2. Sam Diener says:

    Fascinating list. I love that you mentioned the Black Eyed Peas song, “Where is the Love?” both because it’s a superb song and because the video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpYeekQkAdc (now at over 180 million views!)) features people plastering question mark logos around a city.

    The first song not yet on your list that came to my mind is Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” with the repeatedly heartbreaking line, “You got a fast car. Is it fast enough so you can fly away?”

    The second song that came to my mind is Ferron’s too-little-known song imagining global nonviolent revolution, “It Won’t Take Long” which centers around a series of questions, concluding with, “Don’t you want to see yourself that strong?” There’s an audio version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5of4PUgG41w.

    Ferron’s song reminded me of another revolution song, from the 4 Non-Blondes, “What’s Up” which features the question, “What’s going on?” as a refrain. The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NXnxTNIWkc.

    Ani DiFranco’s song linking domestic violence to wars and other kinds of oppression, “Out of Range,” asks a similar, though harshly phrased, question,
    “If you’re not angry
    you’re just stupid
    or you don’t care
    how else can you react
    when you know
    something’s so unfair”
    (audio at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN9n-F08yeg)

    One more from Ani DiFranco, because she rewrote the 1930s union anthem, “Which Side Are You On?” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzQ-n4RLMC4).

    Another song that critiques the lack of questioning is Judy Small’s feminist anti-war anthem, “Mothers, Daughters, Wives,” with the chorus:
    “The first time it was fathers,
    The last time it was sons
    In between your husbands
    Marched away with drums and guns.
    But you never thought to question.
    You just went on wi’ your lives.
    Cause all they taught you who to be,
    Was mothers, daughters, wives.”
    (slideshow to audio at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CZ-UpLCG78&index=2&list=PLBB7AFB6383DAC519)

    Roger Waters of Pink Floyd lost his father in WWII, and wrote an album in tribute to him, “The Final Cut.” In the title song, he asks:
    “if i show you my dark side
    will you still hold me tonight
    and if i open my heart to you
    and show you my weak side
    what would you do”

    On the subject of fathers, I think of Billy Bragg mostly as a protest singer, but his mournful song written in memory of his father, “Tank Park Salute,” asks plaintive questions about mortality:
    “Daddy is it true that we all have to die?” and “You were so tall. How could you fall?”
    (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUi7ZoGig6M).

    One thing I’ve noticed about many of these songs. They ask BIG questions. Along these lines, see Supertramp’s “Logical Song,” with the conclusion:
    “The questions run so deep
    For such a simple man.
    Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
    I know it sounds absurd
    But please tell me who I am.”

    Two more ideas (not my own, but from the person I live with and love):
    “Mother,” by Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” which includes many questions, including, “Mother should I trust the government?” (though it has some lyrics that might not be appropriate for school classrooms)
    and Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind,” which is almost entirely questions, including:
    “how many years can some people exist
    Before they’re allowed to be free?
    Yes, and how many times can a man (sic) turn his head
    And pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

    And those lyrics reminded me of one more song, K’Naan’s “Waving Flag” which has been recorded in many different versions, including the incredibly catchy but depoliticized version for the men’s soccer World Cup in South Africa, but was written originally about his experiences growing up during civil wars in Somalia. It contains the statement:
    “We’re wondering, if we’ll be free…”
    (video of the Young Artists For Haiti version at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB7L1BIDELc).

    Okay, I’ll stop here before another song comes to mind. Thanks for asking!

      

    • Warren Berger
      Twitter: GlimmerGuy
      says:

      Great additions to the list, Sam. I had tried to limit it my list to songs with questions in the titles, but it’s hard to ignore how many great songs touch on the power of big questions in their lyrics. Thanks for all the quotes.

        

    • John Paul Killinger says:

      “16 questions, each one an endless hole.” This was an early rock era song as I recall, pre-Beatles, likely from the time of original Dylan. Don’t know who wrote or performed it, but it did receive considerable airtime.

        

  3. Mike Zlotnick says:

    How about :. “Where are you, little star?” by The Elegants (1958)

      

  4. D Sandon says:

    Who Are You? – The Who

      

  5. Warren Berger
    Twitter: GlimmerGuy
    says:

    Someone just mentioned the great song “Why?” by Annie Lennox – that definitely should make the list

      

  6. Bill Zima says:

    Love this idea. Any time I can mix music with my job, I love it. What about “Imagine” by John Lennon. While the title is not a question, the song is all about “what if’s”

      

    • Warren Berger
      Twitter: GlimmerGuy
      says:

      Great add on with “Imagine”—so full of beautiful questions and ideas. It reminds me of that other Beatles’ tune “A Little Help from My Friends,” which is also filled with questions.

        

  7. Jimmy says:

    Two quick additions, one which will fit in well with the list, and another that might clash: “Do You Believe in Magic?” – The Lovin’ Spoonful (I had to check several times to make sure this was not already on the list; it feels like it should!), and “The Questions” – Common (an excellent song composed entirely of questions thinking outside the box).

    Cheers!

      

  8. lorraine doo says:

    hello warren. still taking additions for your music roster? this one includes the word “school!” How about Bob Marley’s song (1979) “Could You Be Loved?” – impossible not to like once you hear the beat and non stop guitar beat, and the famous opener… “Don’t let them fool ya! Or even try to school ya!” http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4670

    lots of meaning here too… internal and external questions about fit, that are applying to cities everywhere today.
    enjoy!

      

  9. Daisy Azer says:

    In addition to “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” above, ” Am I wrong”? by Nico & Vinz.

    Why? Because I like the idea of always be willing to not only question the status quo but to question yourself. I think it requires confidence balanced by humility. I do think that questioning leads us to what we cannot see (as in the song). I also like the commentary on “feeling” because I do think that while we can bamboozle ourselves, there is also often wisdom in those faint signals that we receive intuitively but, unfortunately, often ignore.

    A few lyrics from “Am I wrong” by Nico & Vinz
    Am I wrong for thinking out the box from where I stay?
    Am I wrong for saying that I choose another way?

    I ain’t tryin’ do what everybody else doing
    Just cause everybody doing what they all do
    If one thing I know, I’ll fall but I’ll grow
    I’m walking down this road of mine, this road that I call home

    So am I wrong
    For thinking that we could be something for real?
    Now am I wrong
    For trying to reach the things that I can’t see?

    But that’s just how I feel,
    That’s just how I feel
    That’s just how I feel
    Trying to reach the things that I can’t see

    Happy Questioning & balancing of tensions …
    -Daisy

      

  10. Barbara says:

    Let’s not forget “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” (popularized by Patti Page) and “Who do you think you are?” (a question that appears in a lot of songs, but I was thinking of the unforgettable refrain in “Mr. Big Stuff” by Jean Knight)

      

  11. Warren Berger
    Twitter: GlimmerGuy
    says:

    In honor of Joe Cocker, who passed away on Dec. 22, 2014, reader Gil Kelly suggested that these 2 famous melodic questions —“What would you think if I sang out of tune?” and “Would you believe in a love at first sight?,” unforgettable in Joe’s unique voice—deserve a mention. Agreed.

      

  12. Daisy says:

    “Who’s Zoomin Who?” by Aretha Franklin. 1. You gotta love an Aretha Franklin song. Well, you don’t but I do. 2. I think it is a good question. 3. It is a fun song. Think about it the next time you feel you are being bamboozled or you may be trying to bamboozle someone! Enjoy!

      

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