100 Of The Best 60s Songs: Classic Tunes From A Decade That Changed Music Forever

(via udiscovermusic) by Sam Armstrong

The best songs of the 60s? Surely an impossible task. And it is. So we’ll say at the beginning that this list doesn’t purport to be the definitive top 100 songs of the 60s. Instead, what we’re hoping to provide is a window into a decade that changed music forever and a pathway for future discovery.

Two important things that are worth mentioning. The first: We wanted each song we included to have some sort of popular impact, either in the decade it was released (or importance in the following decades). That means most of the jazz you’ll find on this list hit the Billboard charts. The second: We’ve only allowed one song per artist in an effort to pay tribute to as many folks as possible.

With that preamble out of the way, enjoy the list!

100: Roger Miller – King of the Road (1965)

Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” shines a light on the traveling man. The track, a delightful country-pop crossover, tells the story of a nomadic hobo, untethered from all obligations and material goods. The song’s most famous line, “I’m a man of means, by no means, king of the road” was bitingly cynical, reveling in the freedom of refusing to conform to societal norms. The smooth-as-whiskey melody and straightforward instrumentation has made it a reliable cover for country stars and rock bands alike, with artists as diverse as Glen Campbell and Reverend Horton Heat covering the tune. The song’s stripped-down style allows for many different interpretations, but it’s Miller’s original, built around the singer’s charmingly beautiful voice, that remains the definitive “King of the Road.”

99: Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames – Yeh, Yeh (1964)

Georgie Fame and his band, The Blue Flames, found the perfect intersection of pop, jazz, and R&B. Audiences agreed. The group’s version of “Yeh Yeh,” topped the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” on the UK chart, ending a five-week run from the Liverpool chaps. Shortly after topping the UK charts, “Yeh, Yeh” reached #21 on the Billboard Pop charts, proving that the song was more than a UK wonder. The band truly came into their own once Fame ditched his piano for a Hammond organ, a decision that was directly inspired by Booker T. & The M.G.’s “Green Onions.”

98: Jackie Wilson – (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher (1967)

The instrumentation for Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” is as crisp as it gets. The bass sounds like it was recorded in a hermetically sealed vacuum, while the iconic conga groove pops without a crinkle or crack. All Wilson had to do was show up. And show up he did. The instrumental for the 1967 hit was written by Gary Jackson, Raynard Miner, and Carl Smith. The song was first offered to The Dells, but was never released. Wilson came in, and originally sang the tune as a ballad. It wasn’t until he reframed his performance as the uptempo, soul-charge you hear today that the song was deemed fit for release and became a 60s classic…

Read more: Best 60s Songs: 100 Classic Tunes | uDiscover Music

America’s Summer Dream – The Beach Boys Before Dealey Plaza

by Shaun Kelly

When John F. Kennedy flew to Texas to begin his reelection campaign for the presidency on Thursday morning, November 21, 1963, the number-one band in the US consisted of five teens from Southern California called, appropriately enough, The Beach Boys. A heady mixture of cousins, siblings, and neighbors ranging in age from 17 to 23, the fledgling band had already released four long-playing records between 1962 and ’63, with their latest album release, Little Deuce Coupe, establishing itself as one of rock’s first “concept albums.” Within 18 months of their arrival onto the pop musical scene The Beach Boys had already manifested themselves as quintessentially American in style, concept, and sound.

Why then did such an improbable collection of kids from a working-class suburb of Los Angeles grab hold of the imaginations of millions in such a short time? It’s fairly simple, really: The Beach Boys’ were blessed to be led by the group’s lead vocalist, bass player, and primary composer, Brian Wilson. A musical wunderkind whose tastes ranged from Beethoven to The Kingston Trio, Wilson had been influenced by such disparate composers as George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Chuck Berry, and the R&B songwriting duo of Mike Leiber and Jerry Stoller…

Read more: America’s Summer Dream – The Beach Boys Before Dealey Plaza | slkellydotorg

Inside the Dirty Business of Hit Songwriting

Telekhovskyi/Adobe Stock

(via Variety) by Jem Aswad

Sixty-four years ago, as Elvis Presley’s career reached its supernova stage, the 21-year-old singer’s team hit on a strategy that enabled him to profit from songwriting without actually writing songs. His management and music publisher had added Presley’s name to the credits on a couple of his early hits, but the singer wasn’t comfortable with the practice and frequently told interviewers that he had “never written a song in my life.” Instead, as recounted in Peter Guralnick’s authoritative biography “Last Train to Memphis,” his team set up an arrangement whereby the King skipped the credit but received one-third of the songwriting royalties for each song he released, no matter who wrote it. (This arrangement was confirmed to Variety by an industry source familiar with the catalog.)

According to Dolly Parton, the policy not only was still in practice nearly two decades later, but the King’s ransom had gotten even bigger. Presley was going to cover Parton’s 1974 hit “I Will Always Love You,” which is now one of the top-selling and most-performed songs of all time, largely thanks to Whitney Houston’s epochal 1992 cover.

“I was so excited, Elvis wanted to meet me and all that,” she recalled in a September 2020 interview on the “Living & Learning With Reba McEntire” podcast. “And the night before the session, Colonel Tom [Parker, Presley’s longtime manager] called me and said, ‘You know, we don’t record anything with Elvis unless we have at least half the publishing.’ I said, ‘I can’t do that.’ And he said, ‘Well, then we can’t do it.’ And I cried all night, ‘cause I’d just pictured Elvis singing it. I know it wasn’t [his decision], but it’s true. I said ‘no.’”

Read more: Inside the Dirty Business of Hit Songwriting – Variety

On music…

A Tribute to Painface

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Learning to Be OK With the Word ‘Vinyls’

(via Variety.com) by Jem Aswad

One day last summer, while showing off his new apartment, my son pointed to his roommate’s impressive crates of albums and said, “Look at all of those vinyls!”

“Don’t you ever say that word again!” my wife and I thundered in mortified parental unison, as if he were a five-year-old who’d just dropped an f-bomb. “They’re records — or albums, or just vinyl. But for the love of God, they’re never, ever ‘vinyls.’”

“Whatever,” he grumbled, as his roommates laughed…

Read more: Learning to Be OK With ‘Vinyls’ – Variety

Why doesn’t anyone talk about Carole King’s other no. 1 album (including her)?

Carole King. Photo: Joseph Sinnott / ©2015 THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC. All rights reserved.

(via PBS American Masters) by Tom Casciato

Music fans old enough to remember 1971 can be forgiven if they remember it as the year of Carole King. That was the year, after all, when the “Tapestry” hurricane hit American culture – hit and never really left. 14 million units sold, four Grammy awards, two No. 1 singles (“It’s Too Late” and “So Far Away”), 25th on Rolling Stone’s list of the all-time greatest albums – you get the point. When its 50th anniversary came around this year, it was rightly hailed by Esquire as “an enduring reminder of how art can stay engrained in our cultural consciousness.”

The thing a lot of people don’t remember, though, is that 1971 was the year Carole King released two No. 1 albums.  She followed “Tapestry” with an album called simply “Music.” Released just in time for Christmas, it hit the top of the charts by January of ’72, and went on to become another platinum seller, the second most popular album of her stellar career.  It would have been an unforgettable milestone for most any other artist…

Read more: Why doesn’t anyone talk about Carole King’s other no. 1 album (including her)? | American Masters | PBS

Ron Dante & Tony Burrows: Two Men, Many Bands

(via CultureSonar) BY MARK DAPONTE

Singers Ron Dante and Tony Burrows are and were not a household name, but for a spell, a family with a working radio couldn’t keep their voices out of their house.

Dante’s first foray into being a household name was singing for The Detergents, who unleashed a 1964 parody of the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” called “Leader of The Laundromat.”  Sadly, some people (like the three writers of “Leader of the Pack”) couldn’t take a joke and took the Detergents to the cleaners in the form of a lawsuit.  Five years later, one of “the Pack’s” composers, Jeff Barry, co-wrote (with Andy Kim) “Sugar, Sugar,” the biggest hit Ron ever sang on.  The song’s success compelled Ed Sullivan to ask Dante’s group, The Archies, to appear on Ed’s variety show.  Alas, the cartoon Archies were the Gorillaz of their time: an animated band whose members were heard and not seen which meant Ron sang as Reggie Mantle in his only appearance on Ed’s show…

Read more: Ron Dante & Tony Burrows: Two Men, Many Bands – CultureSonar

Tina Turner says goodbye to fans with doc amid PTSD, stroke, cancer

Tina Turner performing in 1990.
Redferns

(via the New York Post) By Rod McPhee

Tina Turner bids a final farewell to her fans in a touching new film that shows how she has overcome her painful past and finally found happiness.

In the feature-length documentary, simply titled “Tina,” the singer looks back on camera for the first time at her younger years filled with struggle and pain, then the true love and global fame she found as a middle-aged woman.

Now 81 and plagued by ill health, including a stroke and cancer, the soul and rock music legend also suffered kidney failure that led to a transplant in 2017.

In the film, she tells how she wants to enter the third and final chapter of her life out of the spotlight, and it is revealed that she has a form of post-traumatic stress disorder from the domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of her first husband and music partner, Ike Turner.

Looking back, Tina reflects: “It wasn’t a good life. The good did not balance the bad.

“I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story. It’s a reality. It’s a truth. That’s what you’ve got, so you have to accept it…

Read more: Tina Turner says goodbye to fans with doc amid PTSD, stroke, cancer (nypost.com)

Great Writers on the Power of Music

(via brainpickings) BY MARIA POPOVA

“Music is the best means we have of digesting time,” Igor 

Stravinsky once remarked (a remark often misattributed to W.H. Auden). “Music is the sound wave of the soul,” the wise and wonderful Morley observed. Psychologists have studied why playing music benefits your brain more than any other activity and how listening to music enraptures the brain. But, more than that, music works over the human spirit and stands as a supreme manifestation of our very humanity — something Carl Sagan knew when he sent the Golden Record into the cosmos as a representation of the most universal truths of our civilization.

Gathered here are uncommonly beautiful reflections on the singular power of music by some of humanity’s greatest writers, collected over years of reading — please enjoy.

Susan Sontag spent the majority of her adult life reading between eight and ten hours a day, and never fewer than four. Her intense love of literature was paralleled by a commensurate love of music. In a diary entry found in Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947–1963 (public library) — the spectacular volume that gave us young Sontag on personal growthartmarriagethe four people a great writer must be, and her duties for being a twenty-something — she writes at age 15:

Music is at once the most wonderful, the most alive of all the arts — it is the most abstract, the most perfect, the most pure — and the most sensual. I listen with my body and it is my body that aches in response to the passion and pathos embodied in this music.

In his final essay collection, A Man Without a Country (public library) — the source of his abiding wisdom on the shapes of stories — Kurt Vonnegut wrote that music, above all else, “made being alive almost worthwhile” for him. He synthesized the sentiment in an extra-concentrated dose of his wry irreverence:

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC

Read more: Great Writers on the Power of Music – Brain Pickings

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