Popular music enters an era of “all hits”, as numerous artists release recordings, beginning in the 1950s, as 45-rpm “singles” (with another on the flip side), and radio stations tended to play only the most popular of the wide variety of records being made. Also, bands tended to record only the best of their songs as a chance to become a hit record. The taste of the American listeners expanded from the folksinger, doo-wop and saxophone sounds of the 1950s to the Motown sound, folk rock and the British Invasion. The Los Angeles and San Francisco Sound began in this period with many popular bands coming out of LA and the Haight-Ashbury district, well known for its hippie culture. The rise of the counterculture movement, particularly among the youth, created a market for rock, soul, pop, reggae and blues music.
Bob Dylan an American singer-songwriter, musician and artist, is an influential figure in popular music and culture. His work from the 1960s is when he is an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan’s early songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’“, became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving his initial base in the culture of folk music behind, Dylan’s six-minute single “Like a Rolling Stone” has been described as radically altering the parameters of popular music and is a top-five hit on both sides of the Atlantic during the summer of 1965. He goes electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and his recordings employing electric instruments attracted denunciation and criticism from others in the folk movement. Dylan’s lyrics incorporated a variety of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences; defying existing pop music conventions and appealing hugely to the burgeoning counterculture. His albums Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited usher in album focused rock and the “folk rock” genre. I first hear about him in High school and when in nursing school most kids with guitars, playing in the parks on the Eastside are imitating him.
Lesley Gore, at the age of 17 hits Number one with “It’s My Party” and in 1964 I play it at my 16th birthday party; and another one of her hits is Number 2 “You Don’t Own Me” which I loved to sing when it comes on the radio for I do not want to be owned and to own myself is the goal.
The Beatles are an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. Their first single, “Love Me Do“, is a hit in late 1962, which has all us kids, singing and dancing to it, it’s so contagious. They are called the British Invasion, when they arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport on 7 February 1964. They hit Number one with “I Wanna Hold Your Hand“, it has a great positive beat that is wonderful to dance to, holding hands with friends has me feeling connected and there is nothing like holding hands with someone of the opposite sex to excite my energy. All their music is amazing, innovative and widely influential, albums like Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beatles (1968), and Abbey Road (1969), are an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era’s sociocultural revolutions while utilizing several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. I learn all the words and hammer them out with feeling, really getting into their music.
The Supremes, an American female singing group and the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s, repertoire included doo-wop, pop, soul, Broadway show tunes, psychedelic soul, and disco while scoring twelve number one hit singles between 1964 and 1969, beginning with “Where Did Our Love Go”. In 1966, The Supremes A’ Go-Go was the first album by a female group to reach the top position of the Billboard in the United States. I was so jazzed when I saw them in concert, girls all over just love imitating the movements that go with the word they sing, including me.
The Kinks are an English rock band who first came to prominence with the release of their first hit single “You Really Got Me” in late 1964, and became an international hit; it is regarded as the first hard rock hit which was the best song to do the jerk to. “You got me so I don’t know what I’m doing…” that statement describes the feeling of being obsessed with someone which interferes with thinking, feeling and sensing and we all experience that at some point in our lives, don’t we? The group released a string of singles and LPs, and their music is influenced by a wide range of genres, including rhythm and blues, British music hall, folk and country. I am learning to appreciate and enjoy all types of music.
John Coltrane is an American jazz saxophonist and composer, into bebop, helping to pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz. He organized recording sessions, appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter Miles Davis, and his music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. He releases A Love Supreme in late 1964, considered among the most acclaimed jazz albums of the era, he was one of the many jazz musicians I got to see live for free when I moved to Boston in 1970. My friend turned me onto Jazz when we moved to Boston expanding my music education and bring out a way to experience depth of feeling through music.
The Grateful Dead an American rock band was formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California paving the way and giving birth to Acid rock. The band is known for its unique and eclectic style, which fuses elements of: rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelic, and live performances of long musical improvisation. These various influences made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of jamming”. The fans of the Grateful Dead, are known as “Deadheads”.
The Rolling Stones an English rock band formed in London in 1962 and consist of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richard (guitar, vocals), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums), they have a huge #1 hit with their song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in the summer of 1965. I belted out this song with great feeling, I identify it with my life which has more meaning than just a sexual focus, and being a virgin it gives me insight into how guys experience me in a relationship. These guys are sexy and put great feeling into their music, I love it all.
Simon and Garfunkel an American music duo rose to fame in 1965, on the hit single “The Sound of Silence“. Their biggest hits – including “I Am a Rock” (1965), “Homeward Bound” (1965), “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” (1966), “A Hazy Shade of Winter” (1966), “Mrs. Robinson” (1968), “Bridge over Troubled Water” (1969), “The Boxer” (1969), and “Cecilia” (1969). I love their vocal harmonies and became one of their followers right from the start, in nursing school my friends and I sing many of their songs together as we walk arm in arm or holding hands as we leave the hospital and head to downtown providence. Simon and Garfunkel release the single Mrs. Robinson in 1968 featured in the film The Graduate which makes quite a stir about older women going after younger men.
In February 1966, Nancy Sinatra’s song “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” became very popular. Now here is a song I really get into physically by pounding my feet on the ground while singing “These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do, and one of these days these boots are going to walk all over you…start walking”.
Jefferson Airplane an American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1965. A pioneer of the psychedelic rock movement, Jefferson Airplane was the first band from the San Francisco scene to achieve mainstream success. The band performs at the three most famous American rock festivals of the 1960s—Monterey (1967), Woodstock (1969) and Altamont (1969)—as well as headlining the first Isle of Wight Festival. Their 1967 record Surrealistic Pillow is regarded as one of the key recordings of the so-called Summer of Love and brought the group international recognition; two chart hits from the album, are “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit“. I love Gracie, her voice her music, and the way she moves. I buy all their albums, dancing in my room, loving to imitate her twirling around in circles while screaming out the words. I have the White Rabbit poster in my room at nursing school.
The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed release their influential self-titled debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico in 1967, which is recorded in 1966 during Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia event tour and focuses on controversial subject matter expressed in many of their songs including: drug abuse, prostitution, sadism, masochism and sexual deviancy. I get this album and listened to it frequently, the cover has a banana sticker that peels off and I am trying to understand the extreme behavior of others of my generation, almost studying them.
The Doors release their self-titled debut album The Doors in January 1967. Vocalist Jim Morrison is very controversial and extremely charismatic. My sister and I purchased this album together and play it on our little phonographic machine in our room, love the lyrics. “Break on through to the other side” and “Light my Fire” are my favorites.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience release two successful albums during 1967 Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold as Love that has innovate guitar, trio and recording techniques. The Jimi Hendrix Experience released the double LP Electric Ladyland in 1968 that furthered the guitar and studio innovations of his previous two albums. With the band, Hendrix recorded his five hit singles “Hey Joe“, “Purple Haze“, “The Wind Cries Mary“, “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” and “All Along the Watchtower“. Hendrix is mind boggling to watch how he combined lead and rhythm guitar duties into one, while also making use of guitar effects such as feedback, and later the wah-wah pedal, to an extent that has never been heard before and when he uses his teeth on the strings it sends shivers through me.
The Moody Blues release the album Days of Future Passed in November 1967, a great album that sounds like an orchestra. With my favorites being “Tuesday Afternoon”, and “The Night: Nights in White Satin”, this music seems to elevate me as if I am in the clouds flying high with spirit.
R & B legend Otis Redding an American soul singer-songwriter with a great open-throated singing voice thus is a major figures in soul music and rhythm and blues (R&B). After appearing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, he writes and recorded “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” which become number-one on the charts after his death in a plane crash.
The Bee Gees release their international debut album Bee Gees 1st in July 1967 which contains “To Love Somebody” a soulful ballad sung by Barry, “New York Mining Disaster 1941“, “Massachusetts“, and “World“. The sound of the album Horizontal has a more “rock” sound than their previous release, though ballads like “And the Sun Will Shine” and “Really and Sincerely” were also prominent. Two more singles followed in early 1968, the ballad “Words” and the double A-sided single “Jumbo” b/w “The Singer Sang His Song”. “Jumbo“. Further Bee Gees chart singles followed: “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You“, and “I Started a Joke”. I find their music very catchy and love story telling.
The Yardbirds are an English rock band that has a string of hits in the mid 1960s, including “For Your Love“, “Over Under Sideways Down” and “Heart Full of Soul“. The group has three amazing rock guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. A blues-based band that broadens its range into pop and rock, the Yardbirds had a hand in many electric guitar innovations of the mid-1960s, such as feedback, “fuzz-tone” distortion and improved amplification. After the Yardbirds breaks up in 1968, their lead guitarist Jimmy Page founds what become Led Zeppelin, with Robert Plant; and, releases their debut album Led Zeppelin. I go crazy when I see Jimmy Page and Robert Plant singing on stage at The Boston Garden.
Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Janis Joplin as lead singer, is an American rock band that forms in San Francisco in 1965 as part of the psychedelic music scene and becomes an overnight sensation after their performance at Monterey Pop in 1967 and release their second album Cheap Thrills in 1968 which reaches number one. I buy this album when in Boston it gets stacked on my record player during the night with the rest of my favorites; I imitate her by learning to drink straight whiskey thinking it’s cool.
Gram Parsons with The Byrds is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. Initially, they pioneered the musical genre of folk rock, melding the influence of other British bands with contemporary and traditional folk music. I enjoy their blend of clear harmony singing and twelve-string guitar found in their most enduring songs: Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man“, Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)”, along with the self-penned originals, “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better“, “Eight Miles High“, “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”, “Ballad of Easy Rider”. I buy this album and quickly learn all the lyrics by heart, identifying with what is being said. They release the LP Sweetheart of the Rodeo in late 1968, forming the basis for country rock.
Sly & the Family Stone, from San Francisco are pivotal in the development of rock, soul, funk, and psychedelic music. Headed by singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone and containing several of his family members and friends, the band is the first major American rock band to have an “integrated, multi-gender” lineup. In late 1968, they released the single hit “Everyday People“, which is a protest against prejudices of all kinds,and popularized the catchphrase “different strokes for different folks.” With its b-side “Sing a Simple Song“. Also in 1968 hit single “Dance to the Music”. In 1969 they release a hit single record “Stand” with “I Want to Take You Higher” on the b side then these songs are put on the album Stand which also contains “You Can Make It If You Try”. They do the Woodstock Music and Art Festival and become a vital counterculture band.A new non-album single, “Hot Fun in the Summertime”, is released the same month and hits number two.
The Who an English rock band release their album Tommy which is a double album telling an interesting story about a “deaf, dumb and blind kid” who becomes the leader of a movement, and the first rock opera. Released in 1969, the album is mostly composed by Pete Townshend. The lyrics tell a great story and there are many symbols I can identify with and use on my path to healing: “I’m free”“See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me.”
The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and others created revolution and evolution themes. The music is like a Dalí painting, with many colors and revolutionary ways.