September 2016

SteppenwolfAlbum#19 – Steppenwolf – “Born To Be Wild” – (1968)

Here is one of the definitive songs of the 1960s and what probably has to be the most motorcycle-related song in history.  It has appeared nearly everywhere, but nowhere more famous than as the sort of theme song for Easy RiderSteppenwolf had other big hits, but none larger than this #2 hit from their debut album.

220px-Young_Girl_(album)#20 – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap – “Young Girl” – (1968)

What was the deal with the 1960s and the Civil War? Was it the whole “100 Years Later” thing or what? The Union Gap, so named for the Civil War costumes they wore, was Gary Puckett’s band in the 1960s. This was one of their biggest hits, reaching #2 on the Hot 100. It’s catchy, but it’s also kind of creepy, being about a guy who just realized the girl he was after was under 18.

220px-Harry_Nilsson_Aerial_Ballet#21 – Harry Nilsson – “Everybody’s Talkin'” – (1968)

“Everybody’s Talkin’ is a song originally written and recorded by Fred Neil. Nilsson’s version reached the top 10 in the U.S. and was the theme song for the film Midnight Cowboy, which really helped its success.

Writing's_on_the_Wall_by_Sam_SmithSam Smith – “Writing’s On The Wall” – (2015)

We featured every Bond song a few years ago, and since then a new movie has come out, Spectre. This is the theme from that film and Sam Smith was an excellent choice to sing it. There’s always a lot of second guessing these songs, but it did win an Oscar, so there’s that.

220px-BillyJoel_AnInnocentManBilly Joel – “The Longest Time” – (1983)

An Innocent Man might be my favorite Billy Joel album – mostly because it plays with doo-wop music on multiple hit singles, including this which only features two instruments (a bass and a drum played with a brush) and a bunch of layered vocals, all provided by Joel himself. Because of this, “The Longest Time” is popular among a cappella singers. But if you want to hear how good of a singer Billy Joel was back in the day, this is all you need.

220px-ACDC-LetThereBeRockAC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie” – (1977)

This is a classic AC/DC tune from the Bon Scott era. It is the last song on Let There Be Rock and the third and final single released from the album and remains not only the most popular track from the album, but one of the band’s most popular songs overall.

220px-LetitbleedRS#1 – The Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter” – (1969)

Here it is, the best song of 1969 – and one of the greatest rock recordings of all time. The guitar riff is incredible but what really puts this song over the top is Merry Clayton, the female voice you hear belting – and we mean belting out those lyrics. The last part she sings she is practically screaming (you can even hear Mick go “Whoo!” in the background after her voice cracks). It’ll give you chills. Merry was recruited in the middle of the night to come in and record her part. The legend is that it was so strenuous that Merry, pregnant while recording, suffered a miscarriage upon returning home. It’s an amazing piece of work with excellent performances from everyone involved.

220px-Beatles_-_Abbey_Road#2 – The Beatles – “Here Comes The Sun” – (1969)

Abbey Road was the second-to-last Beatles album to be released, but it was the last to be recorded (for the most part). It’s one of the greatest albums ever recorded and we could spend an hour writing about the cover of the album in itself. The greatest tracks on Abbey Road were written by George Harrison, the most likable Beatle. And this is one of those songs. It was written by George at Eric Clapton’s house and is downright beautiful. Ritchie Havens performed it famously at Woodstock. Because Beatles songs aren’t available on YouTube, here’s an awesome performance of George doing it solo.

220px-Crosbystillsandnash#3 – Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” – (1969)

“I am yours, you are mine… you are what you are.” This song is a lesson in vocal harmony and it is a “Suite” in the classical sense of multiple pieces of music arranged to be played together. The song can be divided into four sections, each a little different. But as one cohesive piece of music, it’s amazing. And quite possibly the best thing Crosby, Stills or Nash ever did.

220px-Willy_and_the_poor_boys#4 – Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Fortunate Son” – (1969)

Don’t forget, 1969 was a turbulent time and songs like this are quick to remind you of it. John Fogerty wasn’t subtle when it came to writing anti-war songs, and this among the best there has ever been. Its use in Forrest Gump certainly cemented that. From the opening chords, you know that you’re about to experience some of the best 60s rock ever recorded.

220px-BS&T_cover#5 – Blood, Sweat & Tears – “And When I Die” – (1968)

Blood, Sweat & Tears’ self-titled second album was released at the tail end of 1968, with this being a single in late 1969. This song was written by Laura Nyro and first recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. This version though, is amazing. It hit #2 on the Hot 100 and has such a unique style to it – from the Ragtime-style piano breakdown to the horns and that thematic lyric delivery. This is the magic you can create when your entire band comes together perfectly.

Norman_Greenbaum_-_Spirit_in_the_Sky_(album)#6 – Norman Greenbaum – “Spirit In The Sky” – (1969)

This song (which hit #1 in the UK, but only #3 in the U.S.) has to be one of the most famous songs of 1969. It’s one that everyone just knows – maybe because it still receives radio airplay and has been featured in movies and TV many times. Boston-born Greenbaum was a one-hit wonder, but it was a good one.

220px-Mycherieamour#7 – Stevie Wonder – “My Cherie Amour” – (1969)

Here is Stevie Wonder’s most beautiful song. Oh, and no big deal, but he recorded it in 1967/68 when he was 17  years old! If you ever wonder why Stevie Wonder was a big deal, just remember he’s been insanely talented since he was a kid. No one can sing like this anymore.