220px-thebeatles68lp#1 – The Beatles – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – (1968)

Yes, this is the inclusion from The White Album on this list. Why this one? Because it is beautiful – which should be obvious because George Harrison wrote it. The version below is not the normal version. Looking at the track list for this album, it’s pretty clear that this is the best, sorry “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”

simon_and_garfunkel_bookends_1968#2 – Simon & Garfunkel – “Mrs. Robinson” – (1968)

This was Simon & Garfunkel’s second #1 hit and its success owes a lot to its inclusion in The Graduate – though the version you actually hear in the film is quite different than the studio version that topped the charts and continues to receive regular radio airplay. Also, Paul Simon ever figure out where Joe DiMaggio went?

mi0000488311#3 – Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World” – (1968)

Not sure I really need to say much about this song. It’s one of the prettiest songs ever recorded. Although originally released as a single in October of 1967, it didn’t appear on an album until 1970. Don’t ask why we’re included it in 1968. Armstrong rose to fame in the 1920s and to release this sort of landmark song in your late 60s is unbelievable. It doesn’t matter what genres you prefer, it’s hard to dislike this song.

220px-odessey_and_oracle#4 – The Zombies – “Time of the Season” – (1968)

This is one of the best examples of 1960s flower power psychedelic rock. I mean, just look at that album cover. This song almost never become a hit – the record company only released it after other singles from Odyssey and Oracle flopped and it went to #3 in the U.S. It’s simply one of the most “1960s” songs you can listen to.

220px-odessey_and_oracle#4 – The Zombies – “Time of the Season” – (1968)

This is one of the best examples of 1960s flower power psychedelic rock. I mean, just look at that album cover. This song almost never become a hit – the record company only released it after other singles from Odyssey and Oracle flopped and it went to #3 in the U.S. It’s simply one of the most “1960s” songs you can listen to.

otisdockofthebay#5 – Otis Redding – “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” – (1968)

Here’s one of the greatest soul recordings of all time. Unlike a lot of R&B records in the 1960s, Redding actually co-wrote his biggest hit. Unfortunately, he died in a plane crash before it could be released (of the two recordings he did of this song, one occurred just days before he died). It was the first posthumous #1 hit on the American charts. 

james_taylor_james_taylor_1968#6 – James Taylor – “Carolina In My Mind” – (1968)

James Taylor recorded his first album on Apple Records. That means he had to audition to the Beatles to get his first record contract. No pressure. This was his first single about his homesickness (even though he is from Boston) and it has sort of become an anthem for North Carolina.

220px-Jimi_Hendrix_-_Electric_Ladyland#7 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “All Along the Watchtower” – (1968)

Here is my favorite Bob Dylan song. Yes, this is a cover of a ’67 song by Dylan and while Dylan is a great songwriter, his performances and singing abilities… well, let’s just say this version rocks (and it’s the most famous take on it). Plus, when Dylan performs it, he performs it more like this version than his original. And the opening of this track just screams “Vietnam War movie,” doesn’t it?

BeggarsBanquetLP#9 – The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy For the Devil” – (1968)

Here is one of the Stones’ greatest songs. Lyrically, it’s brilliant, as it tells the story of the devil and his interactions with human history from his point of view. Listen carefully to the percussion here – it’s awesome and completely un-rock-and-roll. As far as great Stones songs go, this might be the best composition.

build-me-up-buttercup-single-foundations#10 – The Foundations – “Build Me Up Buttercup” – (1968)

Here’s another classic you’ll likely only find on oldies radio stations today. The Foundations were a soul band that was actually from the U.K. and they were not a one-hit wonder, because they had two smash hits, with this one getting all the way to #3 in the U.S.

220px-Bigpink#11 – The Band – “The Weight” – (1968)

The Band was obviously from a time where self-promotion on the internet was not a thing, because you’d be crazy to call yourself that now as no one would ever be able to find you online. The Band was actually a band that backed other musicians (namely: Bob Dylan) before venturing out on their own. “The Weight” is one of those songs that just brings the 1960s to mind and I’m not quite sure how they pull that off, but it’s brilliant.

Creamwheelsoffire.jpeg#12 – Cream – “Crossroads” – (1968)

As I often tell people: no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you will never be as good at anything as Eric Clapton is at guitar. And it is on display here for sure. Originally recorded by Robert Johnson as “Cross Road Blues” in 1936, Cream’s take of “Crossroads” is a thing of beauty. 

220px-Cheapthrills#13 – Big Brother & The Holding Company – “Piece of My Heart” – (1968)

While Janis Joplin might get all of the credit here oftentimes, this song was actually recorded by Big Brother and the Holding Company and it is a cover of a song originally recorded by Erma Franklin (Aretha’s sister). This version absolutely rocks and might be Janis’ best work. Big Brother is one of the most important bands of the late 60s psychedelic rock scene that came out of San Francisco – the epicenter of 1960s counterculture. Side note: if you’re familiar with “Smooth” by Santana and Rob Thomas, listen to this song at the 3:30 mark and then go listen to “Smooth.” See if you can spot the striking similarity.

Turtlesbattlebands#14 – The Turtles – “Elenore” – (1968)

It always seems like when bands record a song as a send-up or parody, that it goes on to become a big hit. That’s the case here as they were satirizing themselves (and “Happy Together”). They sound similar, but the beautiful lyric “You’re my pride and joy et cetera” really sets it apart.

220px-Bend_Me,_Shape_Me_(album)_cover#15 – The American Breed – “Bend Me, Shape Me” – (1968)

The American Breed got their start in 1962 but didn’t take this name until 1967. This was their biggest hit and it’s a good one. After breaking up in 1970, some of the members would later reunite and become Rufus, which would launch the career of Chaka Khan. This is a classic oldie.

220px-TheByrdsSweetheartoftheRodeo#16 – The Byrds – “Hickory Wind” – (1968)

This beautiful country rock tune was written by Gram Parsons and, while considered his “signature song”, it isn’t the signature song of The Byrds, who released a lot of great music like this. This song is actually the perfect example of 1960s country rock. It’s just pretty.

220px-PeopleGotToBeFree#17 – The Rascals – “People Got To Be Free” – (1968)

The Rascals were originally known as The Young Rascals, before, obviously, growing up and changing their name. If only Boyz II Men would follow suit (c’mon Men II Grandpaz would be an awesome band name). Anyway, this song is definitely a product of the 1960s when tolerance (and intolerance) were two social mainstays.

classics-iv-spooky#18 – Classics IV – “Spooky” – (1968)

Classics IV, as opposed to the Classics I through III, had a couple of hits in the late 1960s and this is the coolest. It’s been covered a lot, but was originally released as a single by this band in 1967 (the album came out the following year). It was originally instrumental, but the lyrics were a good add, making it perfect for Halloween.

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.

220px-Living_the_Blues_-_Canned_Heat#11– Canned Heat – “Going Up The Country” – (1968)

I’m really sucking it up. I promise at least five of the songs from “1969” will actually be from 1969. This delightful and airy tune is from blues rock band Canned Heat. A band that, for some reason, I always felt was like the grandfather of Blues Traveler. Maybe it’s because Bob Hite looks kind of like John Popper. Fun fact, this was kind of considered the “theme song” for Woodstock and was performed there. And you can’t beat that flute!

tdn1#14– Three Dog Night – “One” – (1968)

This song, off of Three Dog Night’s self-titled debut album released in 1968, was a top five single for the band in 1969. It was originally written and recorded by Harry Nilsson. It’s probably good that this song never made it to #1… because that is the loneliest number.

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “You’re All I Need to Get By” – (1968)

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell were duet masters. First of all, Marvin Gaye is one of the best singers we’ve ever had, even if his time was cut way too short. Tammi Terrell’s career was cut even shorter, dying from a brain tumor in 1970 at age 24. Before she went, she and Marvin put out some great tunes together, including this Billboard top ten hit. This song was actually written by Ashford & Simpson, but made famous by these two here.