Old Time Rock n Roll – Bob Seger
One of the tackiest songs of all time; also my mom’s all-time favorite. This one comes out at pretty much any family gathering, happy or sad, and then my mom does a little Tina Turner-esque hip shake and makes us all dance embarrassed around the living room.
Go Up Moses – Roberta Flack
I don’t remember the first time I heard Flack’s scathingly funky take on this classic spiritual, but now it’s a staple of my DJ sets. Possibly the most literal Passover song that exists in pop music, this one is a major jam.
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight – Genesis
Occasion songs are naturally corny, ensuring everybody and their grandmother can relate. That’s why this ’80s anthem works (better than the Black Eyed Peas’ millennial update, IMO): It’s monumental and universal and family-friendly–and it veers into a dark industrial breakdown before the last big chorus.
Take a Giant Step – Taj Mahal
Taj is one artist my mom and I both adore. This song is about reawakening to life and love after a long cold winter, a song of Spring if I’ve ever heard one.
My Sisters and Brothers – Jerry Garcia Band
Another reconfigured spiritual, this one done in Jerry’s inimitable hippie-boogie style. “We can all be together/forever and ever/when we make it to the promised land.” Echoes of “next year in Jerusalem,” the credo that traditionally ends Seder night.