Best X-Files Episodes

In anticipation of The X-Files mini-series coming to Fox TV in January of 2016, I decided to immerse myself into a binge watch of most of the important episodes. I was most surprised by how many of the episodes in Season 9 were really good. However, Seasons 3,4,5,and 6 were when this show was turning out a great episode week after week.

Dana Scully is smart, and hot hot hot! Monica Reyes is almost as hot hot hot. The Smoking Man is one the greatest characters ever on TV, and the Lone Gunmen were fabulous. And Mulder is Mulder.Here are my favorite episodes … in order in which they were broadcast. I gave up trying to rank them. I did make myself leave out another 15 episodes, however.

1. Humbug, Production Code: 2X20 (second season, 20th episode) Wacky and Weird.

humbugMulder and Scully travel to Gibsonton, Florida, a town built and populated by circus and sideshow performers to investigate the death of Jerald Glazebrook, The Alligator Man. While searching for leads on the killer, the agents come across many bizarre characters including the local sheriff who was once known as Jim Jim, the Dog-Faced Boy, Dr Blockhead who performs human feats of endurance and The Conundrum, a tattooed jigsaw man who eats live animals. Scully finds it difficult to find a normal suspect, in a place where nothing is normal.

2. Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, Production Code: 3X04 Guest Star: Peter Boyle.Sad and smart.

x-files-clyde-bruckman-carMulder and Scully are called in to assist in an investigation of a killer who is targeting fortune tellers. The investigators have very little to go on and need all the help they can get. Clyde Bruckman, an insurance salesman, knows so many details about the crimes that Scully suspects he is the killer. Mulder however believes that Clyde Bruckman has psychic abilities and is divining the information that way. Peter Boyle as Bruckman is outstanding.

3. War of the Coprophages, Production Code: 3X12 Funny and weird.

screenshot76Mulder travels to Millers Grove, Massachusetts to investigate reports of UFO sightings in the area. It turns out that the town is suffering from a cockroach invasion, and that these cockroaches have been attacking and killing people. Mulder confers with Scully by phone, she is skeptical of killer cockroaches. In each case Scully has an explanation, the exterminator was allergic to cockroaches and died of anaphylactic shock, the teenage boy was using drugs and suffered from Ekbom Syndrome, a drug induced delusion of insects invading the body causing the sufferer to try to cut them out. And the medical examiner died of an aneurysm while on the toilet. Then Mulder catches one of the cockroaches and discovers it has a metal body.

4. Jose Chung’s From Outer Space, Production Code: 3X20 Funny and weird. 

screenshot12Guest Stars: Charles Nelson Reilly and Jess Ventura.

Fabulous … this may be the best episode of all! Funny and weird like a nightmare. Renowned writer Jose Chung, doing research for his book on alien abductions, interviews Dana Scully, who relates to him the case of a teenage couple, Chrissy Giorgio and Harold Lamb, who claim to have been abducted while on a date in Klass County. The only problem is, the victims and witnesses all have different versions of the events that took place. From Chrissy’s first belief that she had been a victim of date rape, to the re-appearance of Harold with his tale of alien abduction. Jesse Ventura as a Man In Black is a great cameo, and the casting of Charles Nelson Reilly is brilliant. But the scene with Mulder in the diner eating plate after plate of slices of pie is true magic.

Feels like the best lost episode of Twin Peaks.

5. Home, Production Code: 4X03: Monumentally CREEPY and disturbing!

the-x-files-home-138888A baby is found buried alive in shallow ground and appears to have birth defects resulting from generations of inbreeding, leading Mulder and Scully to a reclusive family who have a history of inbred children. You will also never listen to Johnny Mathis again and feel comfortable. Truly great!

This episode was so disturbing FOX only aired it on network TV twice.

6. Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man, Production Code: 4X07: Important and compelling.

A Lone Gunmen episode AND a Smoking Man episode all rolled into one! william-b-daviesAn important episode in the X-Files mythology.

Frohike (one of the Lone Gunmen) pieces together and recites to Mulder and Scully what could be the possible life story of the Cigarette Smoking Man; from a young captain in the US Army recruited to assassinate President Kennedy, to becoming the mysterious man in the shadows at the height of a global conspiracy. What measures will the SM take to ensure that he remains a mystery forever?

7. Small Potatoes, Production Code: 4X20: Hilarious and sweet.


Five babies in the same town are all born with tails and the local OB-GYN is blamed for tampering with fertilised eggs. However, Mulder discovers the culprit to be a simple man with a genetic deformity who may have the ability to alter his appearance.

8. Unusual Suspects, Production Code: 5X01: Funny and Important.

x files - lone gunmen

Funny as hell and important to the mythos. In this flashback episode, Mulder meets a straight-laced federal employee, a sex mad AV expert and a nerdy computer hacker who become known as the Lone Gunmen. They bond together to help Susanne Modeski, a strange woman with evidence of a government conspiracy. When their plan to expose the conspiracy fails and Susanne is captured by a group of men-in-black, they soon become a paranoid group of government watchdogs.

9. The Post-Modern Prometheus, Production Code: 5X06: Sweet, odd and sad.


Filmed in glorious black and white with a comic book feel to it, this is a modern retelling of Frankenstein as Mulder and Scully get caught up in a town where the residents live on Jerry Springer episodes and fear a two-faced monster who has been impregnating the women.

10. Bad Blood, Production Code: 5X12: Funny and scary!

Guest star: Luke Wilson.


Another episode that shows different people’s viewpoints of the same story. After Mulder chases down and kills a young man whom he believes to be a vampire, Scully realizes that his fangs are fake. The agents then return to DC, aware of the mistake they just made.

Faced with a lawsuit from the family of the man, they recount each of their sides to the story leading up to the event. Luke Wilson plays the sheriff with the hots for Scully, or maybe not, depending on who is telling the story.

11. Triangle, Production Code: 6X03. Exciting and Romantic


Mulder goes to the Bermuda Triangle when he learns that the Queen Anne, a British luxury liner which disappeared during WWII, has re-appeared in the middle of the Sargasso Sea. Mulder’s boat is wrecked and after floating in the water, he is hauled aboard the ship which has just been hijacked by the Nazis searching for the man who will build the atom bomb. Mulder tries to convince the crew that they have traveled into the future but evidence further suggests that it is he, who is back in the past.

Mulder plants a REAL kiss on Scully in the time warp, knowing she will not remember in the real timeline.

12. Dreamland (1) Dreamland II (2), Production Code: 6X04. Mysterious and hilarious.

Guest star: Michael McKean.

dreamland One of the best! While being detained near the famed “Dreamland” Area 51, a strange craft flies overhead and Mulder swaps bodies with an Area 51 ‘Man-in-Black’. While the other agent has fun in Mulder’s body (seducing Skinner’s secretary and putting the moves on Scully), Mulder himself finds it difficult to fit into someone else’s life, especially a shadowy one. Mulder contacts Scully about the body-swap and tries to get her the Flight Data Recorder from the UFO test flight but his alter ego uses Mulder’s FBI persona to have him arrested.

Mulder is thrown in jail at the Area 51 compound but is released when it is discovered that the flight data recorder he stole was a fake. Scully comes to her senses and realizes that the Mulder she sees isn’t who he really is and heads back to Nevada to help the real Mulder. Meanwhile, the mechanism that caused the body swap is rapidly snapping back, undoing everything in its wake and Mulder and his alter ego must race to put themselves back where they belong.

13. Rain King, Production Code:6X07. Romantic, Sweet and funny. 

Guest Star: Victoria Jackson.

rain king Mulder persuades Scully to join him in an investigation in Kroner, Kansas after being asked by the local Mayor, who believes that the drought they have been suffering from for the past nine months is caused by Daryl Moots. Following an argument with his fiancee Shelia, Daryl lost his leg in a car accident six months earlier, ever since then he has been able to make it rain at will.

They go to Rain King Inc’s office and meet Daryl’s secretary, she cannot understand why Mulder and Scully are investigating Daryl who is just trying to help people.. Mulder and Scully go to a local farm where Daryl is due to make it rain. When Daryl arrives he claims not to know how he does it, but after a little dancing around, there is a clap of thunder and it starts to pour with rain. That night Mulder is nearly killed by a cow picked up by the wind and dropped in to his hotel room. Next morning Shelia claims to be responsible for the weather. Mulder doubts that she is the one controlling the weather but does believe that she is the key to the case as suspicions focus in on the local weatherman and his unrequited love for Shelia.

14. How The Ghosts Stole Christmas, Production Code: 6X08. Funny and creepy.

Guest Stars: Edward Asner and Lily Tomlin.


Funny and creepy at the same time.Mulder talks Scully into investigating a haunted house on Christmas Eve where several couples have met their fate on that very night. While there they encounter endless tricks and traps set by a ghostly couple who originally made a lovers suicide pact in the house. The ghosts try to convince Mulder and Scully to kill each other.

15. Arcadia, Production Code: 6X13. Hilarious!


In their first official case back on the X-Files, Mulder and Scully go undercover as a married couple at a prestigious planned community where several residents have recently disappeared after failing to comply with the rules and regulations.

A great comic gem.

16. The Unnatural, Production Code: 6X20. Intriguing and thought-provoking

Great! One of the best!

xfiles-the-unnatural-david-duchovny-005It is Saturday afternoon and Mulder is in the X-files basement office leafing through New Mexico newspaper obituaries from the 1940’s looking for anomalies, much to Scully’s dismay on such a beautiful afternoon. But Mulder stumbles across a newspaper picture of agent Arthur Dales with a Negro baseball player and the alien bounty hunter.

Ripping the page from the book, Mulder leaves the office and goes to Dales’ apartment, only to discover that Dales brother, also named Arthur has taken over the apartment. But when he shows the photo to Dales, it turns out that the photo is of him not his brother. In June 1947 Dales was a police office in Roswell, assigned to protect a Negro baseball star Josh Exley from membersof the Klu Klux Klan, bent on keeping baseball white.

Exley played for a Negro team called the Roswell Greys and had hit 60 home runs in the season matching Babe Ruth’s record, and so was being scouted for the major leagues. Only Exley does not want to play for the major leagues, he is quite content to stay where he is and play baseball for the Roswell Greys. Only Dale claims this was because Exley was actually a grey alien who had fallen in love with the game of baseball and that was the reason he did not want to play in the major leagues as reporters would dig in to his background and reveal the truth. A fear shared by Exley’s fellow aliens who send the alien bounty hunter to deal with the problem in his own unique fashion.

17. Improbable, Production Code: 9ABX14. Weird and slyly funny.

Guest Star: Burt Reynolds


When Reyes uses numerology to connect the murders of several women to an obsessed serial killer, she and Scully become trapped with a mysterious checker-playing man who may or may not be the killer. The question then becomes who is going to be the next victim. Burt Reynolds is very effective as the checker-playing man who may (or may NOT) be Satan.

The Twelve Viewings of Christmas

Here is a diverse and fun viewing list of 12 movies and TV shows to watch during the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. The traditional 12 DAYS start on Christmas day and runs to Jan. 5 – Christmas to Epiphany. But, choose your own time frame, and for twelve consecutive nights here is your viewing list.


charlie brown xmasThis never gets old and never fails to charm. Just listening to the music of the great Vince Guaraldi makes it feel like Christmas.


a midnight clearAn obscure film, which should be a holiday tradition. Set in 1944 France, an American Intelligence squad locates a German Platoon in the Ardennes wishing to surrender rather than die in Germany’s final war offensive. The two groups of men, isolated from the war at present, put aside their differences and spend Christmas together before the surrender plan turns bad and both sides are forced to fight each other. Sad, but powerful.


rudolphCome on, we all love it. The Snowman (Burl Ives) sings one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” in a show based on one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time.


To me, one of the better modern Christmas movies. Funny and sweet. Tim Allen is wonderful as the befuddled new Santa. 

shop around the cornerDay Five: THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER

The great pairing of Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in a quirky romantic comedy set in Budapest during Christmas season. This was the basis of the Tom Hanks / Meg Ryan remake You’ve Got Mail, which is an excellent update. If you’ve never seen it, you’ve missed one of the great Jimmy Stewart performances.


how the grinchNOT the Jim Carrey / Ron Howard-directed disaster, but the REAL Grinch narrated by Boris Karloff.


x-files season 6Mulder and Scully visit a rumored haunted house on Christmas Eve and get more than they bargained for. One of the all-time great episodes of a great TV show. Funny, scary and romantic at the same time.


nightmare_before_christmas_posterTim Burton’s ingeniously dark romantic view of the Yuletide.


bishops wifeNOT the Whitney Houston remake, but the original 1947 Cary Grant classic. Funny and irreverent while being very mainstream traditional. Grant is sparkling!


love_actuallyThis follows the ups-and-downs of several characters’ lives in London in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Alternately hilarious, sad, touching, heart-breaking and joyous.


wonderful lifeOne of the all-time great movies, period. It is a testament to everything Christmas embodies: family, friends and the joy of life.


christmas storyTHE Christmas movie. The story of a young boy’s epic quest to get his hands on a Red Ryder BB gun provides the hilarious backdrop for a timeless tale rife with family hijinks, frozen tongues and, of course, sex-oozing leg lamps.

Movies That Are BETTER Than The Books

It is one of the pitfalls that writers have had to endure since Edison perfected the motion picture camera – movies based on their books. Most of us agree that 99.2% of the time the film version of a novel is infinitely inferior to the book. Stephen King could write a book about bad adaptations … come to think of it, he probably will.

Dean Koontz’ Watchers is one of the most charming, thrilling and entertaining best-selling books of the past 30 years and was turned into an unwatchable and offensive film. Bicentennial Man was turned into another Robin Williams embarrassment, whereas Issac Asimov’s novella is a subtle and brilliant examination on the meaning of humanity.

But every once in a while, Hollywood takes a book and turns it into a masterpiece. Some are good books that benefited from a brilliant adaptation; others are pedestrian books that were actually improved by the filmmakers; and some are just bad and boring novels that someone somehow turned into a great move.

Here is a list of movies that are MOVIES BETTER THAN THE BOOKS. And it is surprisingly longer than you would think.


CHOCOLAT by Joanne Harris
Chocolat_sheetThis 1999 novel explored the lure of temptation and alternated between sweet and sinister forces of humanity and nature. The movie stays close to the spirit of the story, but is much more positive and cheerful.

LAST OF THE MOCHICANS by James Fenimore Cooper

MohicansposterAs is most fiction from that time period (1826), Cooper is virtually unreadable these days, but writers and books from the 18th and 19th century seem to benefit from Hollywood treatments. The turgid prose and stilted dialogue can be glossed over with spectacular visuals. Every one who has seen this movie knows what a great, and emotionally involving, action film it is.

MARY POPPINS by B.L. Travers

marypoppins-book_114Come on, everyone loves Disney’s Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews is magical and Dick Van Dyke has never been better than as Bert – street artist, chimney sweep and good time guy. The movie was based a popular series of English children’s novels (1935-1988) and portrayed Poppins as more stern and with a darker side than the movie version.

one_flew_over_the_cuckoo_s_nest_by_blitzcadet-d5uyo1uThe 1962 novel by Ken Kesey is a stunning work that is well written and emotionally compelling. And then director Milos Forman turned it into one of the all time great movies. There are a few differences, the most apparent is the voice of the narrator in the book, but we need a character to anchor our thoughts in the novel, whereas Forman can show us the story that develops, and allows us to become the narrator. We all become just another nut in the nuthouse. Jack Nicholson’s performance is genuinely inspired and the cast that surrounds is like a who’s who of soon-to-be 80s stars.


Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman

Based on the short novel “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Prison” from the book Different Seasons, this may be the best adaptation of Stephen King’s prose to cinema. While the story has its charms and contains all the elements of the plot, it is a mere shadow of the emotional depth and sheer grand story-telling that director and screen writer Frank Darabont manages to capture.


BEING THERE by Jerzey Kosinsky
being thereThe book is an ingenius portrayal of a mentally slow gardener named Chance whose only knowledge of the outside world comes from watching television. Through an series of circumstances, Chance becomes homeless and is left to his own devices to face the world. The book often reads flat and uninvolved, a technique of detached emotionless that makes sense (TV viewing results the deadening of senses and intellect ) but does not make it an enjoyable read. The film, however, as directed by Hal Ashby is a constant joy of subtle humor and ironic social commentary. Peter Sellers pulls off the role of his career with a brilliant and nuanced performance which ranks as one of the all time greatest. The fact that he did not win the Academy Award (Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer … and when’s the last time you had a discussion with anyone about that movie or that performance?) is a travesty. In fact, the film was not even nominated for Best Picture. (Kramer; All That Jazz; Apocalypse Now; Breaking Away and Norman Rae).


This is a terse novel written by a former French resistance fighter in WWII. It is difficult book to read – completely devoid of humor and few of the characters are developed enough to either hate or love. Yet in the hands of film maker David Lean it becomes an thrilling story of epic proportions dealing with racial prejudice and nationalism.

HIGH FIDELITY by Nick Hornby
high fidelity

Hornby may be the most successful mediocre novelist of the 21st century. Three of his books (and as of this writing a fourth, A Long Way Down is in production) have become movies: Fever Pitch, About A Boy and this novel about a record store owner and his driftless life after his girlfriend dumps him. The tends to be clunky, but the movie is an intense character study given vitality by an inspired quirky performance by John Cusack.


fried greenFlagg, a comedian, actress and perennial game show guest (Match Game; Hollywood Squares) found a second career writing cheerful comedic Americana novels. But the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes takes the basic story and super charges it with great performances by Mary Stuart Masterson and Kathy Bates.


ordinary peopleThe novel is a chore to read, meandering with emotional passages filled ironic angst. The movie, as directed by Robert Redford, is a brooding study at the fractious nature of a family in crisis and emotionally satisfying.

RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow

ragtimeI recently tried to re-read this 1975 novel (first attempt had been while in high school in 1977 and was bewildered by the bad writing) and still found it boring and stylistic clunky. The fact that Time magazine listed it as one of the Greatest 100 English Language Novels Between 1923-2005 is more of an indictment about the lack imagination of Time’s editors than in your taste in books. Almost every book on the list is one of those boring academically approved books .. i.e. the books your college professor makes you read in college and which you never have the desire to read again. The movie, however, is devoid of Doctorow’s turgid writing and shines. Filled with great performance and emotionally charged.

HAROLD AND MAUDE by Calder Willingham

harold-and-maudeOne of the all-time great weird cult movies is based one of the all-time weird and unreadable books.

SOMEWHERE IN TIME (Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson)

somewhere in timeMatheson is one of those great writers of the 20th century whose books never make Time’s list of 100 Greatest Books because he is a popular writer of horror (gasp!) and sci-fi thrillers. Potboilers! The literati elite can’t have that! However, as many good books that Matheson has written, Bid Time Return is at the bottom of the list. It is a time-travel romance that never really seems to take off, and ultimately, becomes more annoying than anything else. The film, however, is a grand piece of movie-making, lush, romantic and satisfying.

PLANET OF THE APES by Pierre Boulle

planet-of-the-apes-classic-01Another short novel by French writer Boulle that became a classic Hollywood epic. I’ve tried to read Planet of the Apes (sometimes titled Monkey Planet) and found it bewildering. The story is told as a narrative found in a bottle which thankfully, the movie ignores that plot device. “Get your hands off me, you stinkin’ ape,” is one of the great quotable lines in cinematic history.

STARDUST by Neil Gaiman

Stardust (1)The novel is good, but a bit more dark and sinister … come on, we are talking about Neil Gaiman. The movie turned out to be a delightfully romantic and ironically hilarious fable. The movie is worth watching alone for Robert DeNiro’s enthusiastic campy turn as a lightning-gathering cross-dressing pirate.


searchersA very typical Western novel in which a former Civil War soldier becomes driven to avenge the death of his family members by marauding Indians. But in the hands of director John Ford, and John Wayne who for once doesn’t play John Wayne and gives a deep and disturbing portrayal of a man who is close to being psychotic, this becomes an epic movie.


terms of endearmentA veeery middle-of-the-road novel by a good novelist is transformed into a 4 star drama / romantic comedy on the strength of all around great performances by Nicholson and Shirley McClaine.

PSYCHO by Robert Bloch

Psycho_(1960)Based on a real life story, Psycho was first published in 1959. Robert Bloch based the novel on the horrific Ed Gein, who was arrested in Plainfield, Wisconsin for murdering women and making furniture, silverware and even clothing out of body parts, in an attempt to make a “woman suit” to pretend to be his dead mother. Gein also was the inspiration for Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. Bloch’s novel was nothing more than a pedestrian thriller turned into a film classic in 1960 by Alfred Hitchcock, THE classic horror film even though there is less than 60 seconds of screen violence.


bourneHow these densely written and over-the-top plotted Cold War novels ever became popular is still a mystery. And the fact that they were turned into a James Bond style thrill-a-minute movie franchise is almost a miracle. Ignore the books, enjoy the movies.

COOL HAND LUKE by Donn Pearce 

cool hand lukeA book that truly is impossible to read was miraculously turned into one of the most iconic movies of the 1960s, and one of Paul Newman’s all time great screen characters.

DIE HARD (Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorpe)

Die_hardThe book is really bad. The main character is a sappy ex-cop has-been who spends the entire novel whining and pining over his now-dead ex-wife and worries about his daughter stuck in the building with him and the terrorists. Thanks to screenwriters Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart and director John McTiernan for shutting him up, giving him more attitude and hiring Bruce Willis to play him. The result was a superior action film, smart and funny, as well as edge-of-your-seat exciting. Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker, indeed.

DELIVERANCE by James Dickey

deliveranceDickey is one of the most over rated writers of the 20th century. Loved by literary critics and his peers (other college professors who write fiction and poetry) but ignored by everyone else, he even ruined his one great idea for a novel by trying to infuse it with a poetic sensibility that only illustrated the fact that he was a too good of a writer to just write a thriller. It was left to Hollywood to take away all the pretension and strip the story down to it’s most basic elements.

“You sure have a purty mouth,” is one of the most disturbing lines in cinematic history.

I’ve always wondered how good this novel would have been like if David Morrell had written it.


This may be the second worst written book ever to become a best-seller. We read the book in high school for the sex scenes … who can forget Sonny pushing Lucy up against the wall? But, as has been documented in abundance elsewhere, this is one of the all time classic movies.

THE GRADUATE by Charles Webb

the-graduate-poster-1o5nepbThe 1963 novel was, at best, barely readable, but somehow Mike Nichols, with his writing team Calder Willingham and Buck Henry took everything the novel had to offer, and expanded it to create one of the most iconic films of the 1960s. One reason the movie is better is one of the most perfect soundtracks ever, by Simon and Garfunkel.


red octoberLet’s be honest … Tom Clancy can’t write. Period. We keep a copy of Red Storm Rising next to the bed in case of insomnia. Two pages and your eyes are dropping.Clancy is a high-concept book packager where ideas are more important that creating characters and setting the mood. But they make fairly entertaining movies.

JAWS by Peter Benchley

jawsThis may be one of the worst written books ever to become a best-seller. Jaws was one of the first “high-concept” novels which now periodically hit the best seller list (every heard of The DaVinci Code?). But, a young Steven Spielberg turned the material into one of the most edge-of-the-seat movies ever. Roy Schneider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss are top notch.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL by James Ellroy

la confidentialEllroy is an enigmatic figure. The real mystery is how his unreadable books keep getting published, and keep getting positive reviews. But, buried within all the turgid prose and literary devices (think of a hard-boiled Thomas Pynchon with none of the humor) someone in Hollywood saw a thrilling and brutal movie … and they were right.

A PLACE IN THE SUN by Theodore Dreiser

A_Place_in_the_Sun_(film)_posterDreiser is a literary darling and virtually impossible to read. However, the novel An American Tragedy, which is the basis for this movie, had all the plot elements needed for Hollywood to fashion a classic soap opera.

Top 20 Beatles Solo Songs

Since the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Paul McCartney has released the most solo music of any of the former Beatles. Paul’s output is the most varied in quality, from excellent (Ram, Band On The Run, Flaming Pie) to awful (Flowers In the Dirt, Red Rose Speedway).

John Lennon, of course, has the smallest output due to his murder, and his self-imposed “retirement” 1975-80 to rear his son Sean. John’s output is also varied, due to his erratic recording schedule and the number of songs he allowed his wife Yoko to record.

George Harrison may have the strongest catalogue album by album starting with the astonishingly great All Things Must Past. Every George LP is worth a listen.

Ringo Starr, oddly enough, had the most commercial success out of the gate, mainly because George Harrison was very hands-on with Ringo’s early LPs – producing, writing and performing on most of the songs.

I started out with a list of 62 songs and pared it down to 29. The last nine songs were the toughest to cut. They could have easily been on this list. When I couldn’t decide, I just went with personal preference. So, here it is, my list of the best solo songs by the former Beatles.


20 “Imagine” – John Lennon

john-lennon-peaceDocked 15 spots for several reasons. Due to being overplayed for the past 20 years to point of nausea, “Imagine” has become the “God Bless The USA” for the socialistic/progressive crowd. It’s basic message – imagine a world at peace, without the divisiveness and barriers of borders, religions and nationalities, and to consider the possibility that the focus of humanity should be living a life unattached to material possessions – is at best, naïve, particularly from a man who had all the trappings of material success the world could offer. It hasn’t aged well.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

19 “Handle With Care” – The Traveling Wilburys

Originally written by Harrison for his solo LP Cloud Nine in 1987. It was shelved and ended up as the rollicking opening track for the first Traveling Wilburys LP. Jointly sung by Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne, it becomes a fun, goofy song.

 “Everybody’s got somebody to lean on/ Put your body next to mine and dream on.”

18 “Watching The Wheels” – John Lennon

Released posthumously in 1981 after his murder, “Watching the Wheels” was the third and final single released from Lennon and Ono’s album Double Fantasy album, and reached number #10 US on the Billboard Hot 100

One of his most personal songs, Lennon addresses those who were confounded by his “househusband” years, 1975–1980, when he “retired” from the music industry to concentrate on raising his son Sean.

I tell them there’s no hurry / I’m just sitting here doing time

17 “Photograph” – Ringo Starr

ringo-starr-reuters-rtr2no0h#1 for Ringo. Written by Starr and George Harrison. A song that doubles as a love song and as commentary on the reality that Beatles were no more.

Everytime I see your face/ It reminds of the places we used to go                 

But all I’ve got is a photograph / And I realize you’re not coming back anymore.

16 “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” – Paul McCartney & Wings

The closing song from the Band On The Run LP, this is one of McCartney’s most infectious songs. The cinematic sweep of the song is propelled by the best piano playing of McCartney’s career. The grandiose ending features a full orchestra with includes mellotronorgan and horns, an almost “A Day In The Life” effect.

I didn’t think I never dreamed / That I would be around to see it all come true

15 “Mind Games” – John Lennon

Another thoughtful philosophical song with a gorgeous melody. Lennon was inspired to write the song after reading Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space by Robert Masters and Jean Houston.

“YES is the answer.”

14 “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” George Harrison

GH2The opening track of his 1973 album Living in the Material World and George’s second #1 song. It bumped Paul McCartney & Wings‘ “My Love” from the top of the Billboard Hot 100 which was a good thing!

Opting for a simpler production sound this time around, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” features some of Harrison’s best slide-guitar work. Harrison described the song as “a prayer and personal statement between me, the Lord, and whoever likes it”.

“Give me hope / Help me cope / with this heavy load”

13 “Monkberry Moon Delight” – Paul McCartney

From Ram, this is one of the most fun songs that Paul ever recorded, Five-plus minutes of mid-tempo craziness with Paul shouting out a set of ridiculously nonsensical, stream of consciousness lyrics over some bouncy repetitive guitar and piano riffs.  No serous message here, just a master musician jammin’ on a fun song. 

“Of two youngsters concealed in a barrel, Sucking monkberry moon delight.” 

12 Working Class Hero” – John Lennon

A beautiful rumination/commentary/criticism of the difference between the social classes. Lennon at his most reflective.

“They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool.”

11 “Live and Let Die” Paul McCartney & Wings

paul-mccartney2THE epic James Bond theme song and one of McCartney’s most complex compositions. A piece of pure production overkill that works!  Watching McCartney and Wings perform this song at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. in the 1990s ranks as one of the greatest live concert moments in my life. Paul gets the “Throw-in-an-extra-preposition-and-call-it-art Award” for the awkward lyric:

“In this ever changing world in which we live in.”

10 Isn’t It A Pity” – George Harrison

From the massive All Things Must Pass LP, “Isn’t It a Pity” was rejected by the Beatles during the January 1969  sessions that resulted in their final album, Let It Be. According to Abbey Road engineer Geoff Emerick, however, the song had been offered for inclusion on 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The most majestic of Harrison’s songs, “Isn’t A Pity” is lyrically complex and musically dream-like. Tom Petty and Eric Clapton both consider this song to be Harrison’s masterpiece.

“Isn’t it a pity / Isn’t it a shame

How we break each other’s hearts and cause each other pain”

9 “#9 Dream” – John Lennon

John LennonOne of Lennon’s most audacious songs. If McCartney had written and recorded this, it would be considered a piece of fluff. Filled with Sgt. Pepper-like flourishes it’s a weird trip into John’s subconscious mind. The female voice whispering John’s name is not Yoko, but his then-mistress May Pang. The nonsense lyrics, “Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé”, came to Lennon in a dream (hence the title) and have no specific meaning.  But they are fun to sing!

“On a river of sound / Through the mirror go round and round”

Ringo8 “It Don’t Come Easy” – Ringo Starr

Reached #4 in 1971. Written by Ringo and George Harrison, this is Ringo’s signature solo song. The lyrics are a thinly veiled reflection of the lives of all four Beatles at the time. The band on this recording included Harrison and Badfinger. 

“I don’t ask for much / I only want your trust

And you know it don’t come easy”

And just for fun … listen to George’s demo of the song that he gave to Ringo.

7 “Junior’s Farm” – Paul McCartney & Wings

One of McCartney’s best rockers. Recorded in Nashville it reached #3 in 1974.  For a man world famous for his love songs, as time goes by the McCartney songs that tend to age better are his rockers. 

“At the Houses of Parliament / Ev’rybody’s talking ’bout the President,
We all chip in for a bag of cement”

6 “My Sweet Lord” – George Harrison

One of the most overt religious songs to ever hit #1 on the Billboard charts. A massive worldwide hit, this song epitomized what the public wanted in 1970-71: shimmering harmonies, lustrous acoustic guitars, a solid Ringo Starr backbeat, and an exquisite Harrison guitar solo.  The backing musicians again include the Delaney and Bonnie band and Badfinger.

The song is now as well known for the infamous copyright infringement lawsuit against Harrison that “My Sweet Lord” was direct copy of The Chiffon’s 1963 #1 hit, “He’s So Fine.” (And who are we kidding, it was!) Harrison was found guilty of “subconscious” plagiarism. The suit was settled in 1981 with Harrison buying the rights to the earlier song for $600,000. Nonetheless, “My Sweet Lord” is a gorgeous pop song. 

I really wanna be with You!”

5 “Let Me Roll It” – Paul McCartney

paulOne of McCartney’s truly great songs. Awash in echo and reverb the Lennonesque vocals are pushed back in the mix beneath the wicked guitar riff, cheesy organ and funky bass line which drive the song.

“You gave me lovin’ in the palm of my hand.”

4 “Whatever Gets You Through The Night” – John Lennon

From Lennon’s Walls & Bridges 1974 LP, this was his only #1 solo single in his lifetime. A rollicking rock n’ roll record, with Memphis-style horns blaring and Elton John on backing vocals, this is an infectious ode to having too much fun with a truly ironic lyric giving what the future held.

“Don’t need a gun to blow your mind, oh no, oh no”

3 “Maybe I’m Amazed” – Paul McCartney

McCartney wrote the song in 1969, just before The Beatles’ break-up. One of his best love songs, it was recorded at the Abbey Road studio in London with McCartney playing all the instruments: guitars, bass, piano, organ and drums. He declined to release the song as a single in 1970, but it nonetheless received a great deal of radio airplay worldwide.

A live recording from the 1976 album Wings over America was released as a single by McCartney’s band Wings in February 1977 and reached number 10 in the US on the Billboard pop charts. McCartney has said ’Maybe I’m Amazed’ was “the song I would like to be remembered for in the future”

“Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you”

2 “Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” – John Lennon

This song encompasses everything Lennon stood for—peace, love and understanding. It is a masterpiece of pop songwriting and production, from the slap backbeat of the drums to the pounding piano, this song is everything “Imagine” is not, a true anthem of the 60s philosophy, without the overt uncomfortable socialistic message.

“We all shine on/ Like the moon and the stars and the sun”

1 “What Is Life?” – George Harrison

all things must passHarrison wrote the song in 1969 during the Abbey Road sessions and it was released on his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. It became a Top 10 hit in the United States in February 1971. Harrison’s backing musicians on the recording included the entire Delaney & Bonnie Friends band as well as all the members of Badfinger.  

Built around an infectious guitar riff, the song can be seen doubly as a romantic love song and one of George’s spiritual ruminations of human existence. Lushly produced with tasteful horns, tambourines and layers of acoustic guitars strumming behind the massive guitar riff it is impossible NOT to nod your head, smile and sing along with this song,

Tell me, what is my life without your love?
And tell me, who am I without you, by my side?

Best Songs Written By a South Carolinian

South Carolina musicians run through the wide spectrum of American music – blues, jazz, country, soul, funk, and rock and roll. This is NOT a comprehensive list of great musical artists from the Palmetto state, rather it is an attempt to show the wide range of diversity and quality music that South Carolina has given to the world.  If you’re interested in reading about the roots of American popular music (and South Carolina’s role) read my book, Doin’ the Charleston. 

“Smooth,” “Push” & “3 AM” – Written by Rob Thomas (Lake City and Turbeville, SC)

Thomas is the lead singer of the band Matchbox 20. “Smooth” won a Grammy Award for both Santana and Thomas.

An Army brat, he was born at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, West Germany an army hospital. Thomas’s parents divorced while he was very young, at which point his father retired and disconnected from the family. He and his sister were raised by his mother and grandparents in Turbeville, South Carolina. When he was 12, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He attributes the song “3AM” to this time.

“Little Darlin’” & “Stay” by Maurice Williams. (Lancaster, SC)

Maurice (with the Zodiacs)earned Rock and Roll immortality for the classic “Stay”, which was famously covered by Jackson Brown in 1977. “Little Darlin’ hit #2 in 1957 and was featured in the film American Graffiti.

“Take The Highway” & “Can’t You See” by Toy Caldwell (Spartanburg, SC)

As guitarist and main songwriter for MTB, Caldwell and the Marshall Tucker Band are stalwalts of the 1970s Southern rock movement and the greatest rock band from South Carolina … 

“FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN” by George McCorkle (Spartanburg, SC)

McCorkle, second guitarist for The Marshall Tucker Band, was a major songwriter for the Tuckers. “Fire” is one of the great Southern country rock songs of the 1970s.

“HALF OF MY MISTAKES” by Radney Foster and Bobby Houck (of the Blue Dogs, Charleston, SC)

Houck, who is part of The Blue Dogs, wrote this amazing song with Texas music legend, Radney Foster. Foster is one of the best writers/performers on the Country/Alt/Americana scene today.


The husband and wife team known as Ashford & Simpson is as big a part of the Motown story as is Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross; they were one of the top songwriting units for Berry Gordy’s assembly line production. “Stoned” was their first major success as a hit for Ray Charles.

“SUMMERTIME” by George Gershwin and Dubose Heyward (Charleston, SC)

Heyward wrote the libretto for this opening song for the opera “Porgy and Bess.”  There are more than 1000 recorded versions of this song, but Billie Holiday’s version takes the cake. 

“EVERY DAY IN THE WEEK BLUES” by Pink Anderson (Laurens, SC)

After being raised in Greenville and Spartanburg, SC Anderson joined Dr. Frank Kerr of the Indian Remedy Company in 1914 to entertain the crowds while Kerr tried to sell a concoction purported to have medicinal qualities.He traveled with Leo “Chief Thundercloud” Kahdot  and his medicine show, often with the Jonesville, South Carolina based harmonica-player Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson. In May 1950, Anderson was recorded by folklorist Paul Clayton at the Virginia State Fair.

Syd Barrett, of English progressive rock band Pink Floyd, came up with the band’s name by juxtaposing the first names of Pink Anderson and North Carolina bluesman, Floyd Council.

“STILL” by Whisperin’ Bill Anderson (Columbia SC)

Major country star of the 60s, 70s and 80s. In later years Anderson hosted a game show on TNN.

“THINKIN’ PROBLEM” by David Ball (Rock Hill, SC)

A successful country singer during the 1980s, this is a bone fide honty tonk classic.

“I GOT YOU (I FEEL GOOD)” & “PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG” & “IT’S A MAN’S MAN’S MAN’S WORLD” by James Brown (Barnwell & Beach Island, SC)

Where do you stop listing the classic songs of James Brown? A legend and a force of nature. 

“A NIGHT IN TUNISIA” & GROOVIN’ HIGH” by Dizzy Gillespie (Cheraw, SC)

A monumental talent … one of the greatest musicans of the 20th century. 

“CORNER POCKET” by Freddie Green (Charleston, SC)

Freddie Green was guitarist for the Count Basie Orchestra for 50 years … the longest job in jazz history. “Mr. Rhythm” was also a brilliant song writer and arranger, as you will hear in this Basie classic. 

“LONG BLACK TRAIN” by Josh Turner (Hannah, SC)

A major country /gospel star, whose first hit, “Long Black Train” is a genuine classic. 


Anderson grew up in the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston, SC and played in their boys brass band. He played for more than 20 years with Duke Ellington in the 1950s-70s. 

“YOU’VE GOT TO STAND FOR SOMETHING” by Aaron Tippin (Traveler’s Rest, SC)

A honky-tonky singer who had a successful run in the 1990s. 

“ONLY WANNA BE WITH YOU” & “OLD MAN & ME (WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN)& “TIME” by Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber and Jim Sonnefield (Hootie and the Blowfish)

These guys need no introductions … took the music world by storm in 1990s and now a South Carolina icon …


A legendary jazz player who never became a legend. He was another member of the Jenkins Orphanage Band from Charleston, SC and a major artist in the 1920s and 30s. 


Yet another musician from the Jenkins Orphanage House in Charleston. He was a prolific songwriter of “negro blues” songs in the 1920s. “Jazz Me Blues” is an American Standard. Delany also wrote the obscure and filthy “All The Girls Love Big Dick”.

BOOKS TO AVOID – Even Under Penalty of Death

NOTE: I did not list any James Patterson books since it should be obvious you need to avoid Patterson. If you enjoy Patteron’s books I order to stop reading my blog IMMEDIATELY.


AmericanPsychoBookAMERICAN PSYCHO by Brett Easton Ellis

Sick and badly written. A cruel and vicious book. Anyone who is in a relationship with Mr. Ellis needs to re-think their decision. There are not words strong enough to describe how bad this book is.

Cold_mountain_novel_coverCOLD MOUNTAIN by Charles Fraizer

Quite simply, one of the worst books of the past decade. It is a great example of the group think among today’s university-driven literary community and publishing industry. The book is sophomoric in style, using purple phrases with awkward flourishes that most English 101 instructors will give you a failing grade for using. It is also a great example of a major problem in today’s publishing industry – an author has a wild success with a bad book, so he is given a huge amount of money to produce an even worse book, Thirteen Moons.

finnegan's wakeFINNEGAN’S WAKE by James Joyce.

It’s a classic, right? Yes, classic shit. The last section of the novel consists of 24,212 words and two sentences. Yes, you read that correctly, two sentences and 24,000 words! Enough said.

Gravitys_rainbow_coverGRAVITY’S RAINBOW by Thomas Pynchon

The 11 members of the Pulitzer Prize committee were on the right track when they described the book as “unreadable, turgid, overwritten and obscene.”

They were actually being nice.

magus_coverTHE MAGUS by John Fowles

Self-important and full of 1960ish mysticism and oblique literary games. AWFUL!

The great actor Peter Sellers was once asked, “If you had a chance to live your life over again, what would you do differently?” Sellers answered, ” I would not read “The Magus.”

Amen, Peter.  


Granted, this was a no-win idea from the get-go. Hell, even the title is ridiculous. But the book turned out to be boring, boring, boring.

And the other “approved” book, Rhett Butler’s People fares no better.

StateOfFearSTATE OF FEAR by Michael Crichton

First of all, forget all the political yammering around this novel (by the same folks that think Tom Clancy is a good writer) and the claims for “scientific authenticity.” IT’S BAD AND BORING!

Crichton has never been on anyone’s list of good writers; his prose is clumsy and his characterizations are TV depth (hence all the successful movies and TV shows made from his writings).

ShannaraTHE SHANNARA BOOKS (almost all of them!) by Terry Brooks

Second rate recycled Tolkien. Brooks’ prose is often as unwieldy as a 200 lb sword. . What is frightening is how many have been published. As of this moment there are 20+ Shannara novels. Mr. Brooks … have mercy! Take a vacation!!!!

How bad are these books? Pauly Shore bad! Michael Bolton awful!

tough guysTOUGH GUYS DON’T DANCE by Norman Mailer

A boring, boring mess. The book is the result of a self-important (and often good) writer thinking that because he is an “important artist” he could write a better hard-boiled mystery than those two-bit hacks like Hammet, Chandler and MacDonald.

Hey Norman, you lose … by a long shot!




(Listed in Alphabetical order)


1984 by George Orwell (1949)
1984 by George Orwell

This is scary because many aspects of this novel are no longer fiction.

Read the news … NOT the American media, who rarely tells you the true stories of what is happening in then world. Information insulation is another form of control. 

 CARRION COMFORT by Dan Simmons (1989) 

Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
A great vampire novel, with a twist. The vampirism featured here is psychic, not blood-letting . A small group of people have an Ability, where they can possess someone mentally and use them to do their bidding. They also use their Ability to Feed, prolonging their lives by mentally drawing sustenance from people.

The battle among the Users with the Ability for power leads for a gargantuan plot and a cast of more than two dozen characters, from Nazis to southern sheriffs, to Holocaust survivors to Hollywood moguls to CEOs of the world’s largest corporations. Riveting and compelling.

Come on HBO … how about a mini-series?????

GHOST STORY by Peter Straub (1979)

Ghost Story by Peter StraubAn old-fashioned, c-r-e-e-p-y ghost story. Four elderly New England men are haunted an event in their past … they got away with murder … or did they?

As they ask in the novel: “What was the worst thing you’ve ever done?””I won’t tell you that, but I’ll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me… the most dreadful thing…”

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jack Ketchum (1989)

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
Not for the faint-hearted! The Girl Next Door is a dark and twisted story told through the eyes of a preteen boy. Set in the 1950s, it is a fictionalized account of one of America’s grizzliest true crime stories. D-i-s-t-u-r-b-i-n-g.

I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson (1954)

The novel that got me hooked on dark fiction and dystopian novels back when I was fifteen years old.
RobeI Am Legend by Richard Mathesonrt Neville is the apparent sole survivor of a pandemic whose symptoms resemble vampirism. It is implied that the pandemic was caused by a war, and that it was spread by dust storms in the cities and an explosion in the mosquito population.

The book follows Neville’s daily life in Los Angeles as he attempts to comprehend, research, and possibly cure the disease, to which he is immune. His past is revealed through flashbacks: the disease claimed his wife and daughter, and he was forced to kill his wife after she seemingly rose from the dead as a vampire and attacked him.

Forget the most recent Hollywood version of this novel starring Will Smith … READ THE BOOK!!

THE HOT ZONE by Richard Preston (1994)

This non-fiction bio-thriller is about the origins and incidents involving viral hemorrhagic fevers, partThe Hot Zone by Richard Prestonicularly ebola-viruses and marburg-viruses. You may begin to compulsively wash your hands and stay away from EVERYONE with a cough. Stephen King called the book, “one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read.”

And the U.S. govt. is bringing two ebola victims to America as I write this.

HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)

House of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiA young family moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane and discovers something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside!

One of the oddest, most challenging books you will read in a looong time. Bewildering and claustrophobic.

IT by Stephen King (1986)

It by Stephen KingI debated about putting The Shining in this place, but I opted for It.

King’s most epic horror story that pushes ALL the right buttons … misfit kids, bullies, disappearing children and a malevolent clown!

THE KILLER INSIDE ME by Jim Thompson (1952)

The Killer Inside Me by Jim ThompsonLou Ford, a 29-year-old deputy sheriff in a small Texas town appears to be a regular, small-town cop leading an unremarkable existence; beneath this facade, however, he is a cunning, depraved sociopath with sadistic sexual tastes. Horrific and darkly humorous.

ONE SECOND AFTER by William Fortschen (2009)
One Second After by William R. Forstchen

The scariest book I have ever read. Period.

Electromagnetic pulses can result from natural phenomena and, in much greater strength, from nuclear blasts. The result of an EMP is the destruction of unprotected electronic circuitry. With no electronics -vehicles won’t run; no phones, computers, radios, or televisions; no electricity. America descends into the Middle Ages.

In One Second After, we follow a small North Carolina mountain town quickly crumble. The lack of food and medicine leads to mass death. Cities turn against the countryside; friends and neighbors turn against each other in a desperate struggle to survive.

Read it and began your stockpiling.

SILENT SPRING by Rachel Carson (1962)

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
This book single-handedly helped ban DDT across the world, resulting in the death of millions of people due to malaria which resurfaced. This was the book that started the environmental movement and it’s scary that people still defend this.