The best of 1967 mix tape

I’ve been looking forward to 1967 for a long, long time, if for no other reason than to have an excuse to intentionally leave Doors songs off this mix. Yeah, I think To Sir With Love is approximately 100000x superior to Break on Through (To The Other Side). This dude does not abide by Jim Morrison (except for LA Woman. That one might have a chance). Also, apologies to Pink Floyd and Miles Davis for not finding room for songs from your two great albums on here. I may be the only person alive that thinks The Piper At the Gates of Dawn is the best Floyd album, but I do love me some Syd Barrett.

To the mix then. The rest of the best of the 1960s mixes are here, and you can find the basic rules for inclusion here.

Give Me Some Lovin’ – The Spencer Davis Group

There was a brief period of time when I was 13, about a month really, where this was my favorite song of all time. I still totally dig it.

So You Want to Be a Rock ‘N Roll Star – The Byrds

Hmm, on second thought, no I don’t, because one day the internet will exist and jerks with no musical talent will write pretentious blog posts about how my music sucks. Plus, I look like a moron in tight pants. Good call, JLo.

I Never Loved a Man (The Way That I Loved You) – Aretha Franklin

How great is this song? It made it to the list instead of Respect, which also came out in 1967, so there.

The Wind Cries Mary – Jimi Hendrix

Picking a song from Are You Experienced? is well nigh impossible. This one is a personal favorite, but I could have gone three or four other ways and been just as happy.

I Heard It Through the Grapevine – Gladys Knight & The Pips

Want to really find out if somebody has excellent taste in music? Ask them which version of this song they like best. If they reply the Gladys Knight version, then you’ve got a winner. (If they mention anything about the California Raisins, you are legally allowed to bludgeon them with a shovel in 39 states. Wait, what? I’m being told that is not true. It should be though.)

There She Goes – The Velvet Underground

Yet another album where it’s basically impossible to pick just one song, but this one is just smudge better than the rest in my humble opinion. I almost wrote IMHO, but then I would have risked a shovel bludgeoning as well, so I thought better of it. The same should be true for use of selfie sticks. Or taking selfies in general. Basically, shovel bludgeoning is a vastly underused penalty and we should seriously reconsider its use. How in the world did I get to shovel bludgeoning from The VU? Oh well, let’s move on, shall we?

Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones

What a tune. Too bad they named a crappy chain restaurant after it. Eat at Ruby Tuesday’s voluntarily? That’s a bludgeoning.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

Thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy, this is one of my kids favorite songs. What would happen if you could go back in time and tell Marvin Gaye that his music would reach a whole new audience thanks to a movie that featured a kick ass, talking raccoon and a dancing, humanoid tree? He’d probably bludgeon you with a shovel, wouldn’t he? See, it really is the one size fits all punishment.

I’m A Lonesome Fugitive – Merle Haggard

I fear that Merle has been criminally underrepresented in these mixes. Hopefully this makes up for it a bit.

Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane

This songs practically screams 1967.

The Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

You could make a really good case that, outside of the Beatles, nobody had a bigger impact on the music of the 1960s than Smokey Robinson. Seriously, the man wrote basically EVERYTHING.

Pleasant Valley Sunday – The Monkees

There’s real depth in this song, a rather blistering indictment of the blandness of suburban life hidden behind a pleasant, jaunty tune.

Jackson – Johnny & June Carter Cash

If you ever doubted bond between Johnny and June Carter, just listen to the playful banter between the two in this gem.

Once I Was – Tim Buckley

As unique and powerful a voice as you’ll find on any of these mixes.

Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks

In many ways this is kind of a bizarro companion piece to Pleasant Valley Sunday, only it celebrates the bustling urban life.

Happy Together – The Turtles

Possibly the prototype late 60s pop rock song.

Soul Man – Sam & Dave

As much as I loved the Blues Brothers, the original crushes their version like a grape and then grounds it into a fine cabernet, or possibly a merlot.

When Joanna Loved Me – Scott Walker

Along with Tim Buckley and Leonard Cohen, Walker was and remains king of the melancholy crooners.

Tales of Brave Ulysses – Cream

2:46 in length, which gives it the upper hand over Sunshine of Your Love.

To Sir, With Love – Lulu

Hey Doors, To Sir, With Love has a classic Sidney Poitier movie on its side. You don’t have a Sidney Poitier movie, do you? Didn’t think so.

All Along The Watchtower – Bob Dylan

Hendrix took this song and made it his own (as well as a completely different animal), but I’m always partial to the original.

I’m not going to lie to you, making fun of the Doors never gets old. Here’s the Spotify playlist for your listening/subscribing pleasure.

Only two more mix tapes to go! How did I do? Does my dislike of the Doors come through clear enough?

Cheers.

The predictable, confounding, infuriating, and ultimately satisfying Mad Men finale

Mad Men is without question one of the great television dramas of all time, and maybe one of the last purely character dramas that will gain a wide foothold of cultural significance. With seemingly every show on television obsessed with one upping itself with plot twists, Mad Men was stubbornly resistant to the trend. The show was intimately intertwined in history, but its characters remained outside observers, watching events like the Kennedy assassinations, the Chicago riots, and the moon landing on television just like everybody else. One can imagine the machinations and back flips one of the current generation of show runners might go through to insert Don, or Roger, or Peggy directly into these events, but Matthew Weiner was content to let them unfold around a cast of characters and focus instead on their reactions, everyday lives, hopes and dreams, and disappointments.

Many have speculated for years that Mad Men had only one possible ending, one that flashed before us every episode during the opening credits: Don Draper plunging to his death in imitation of the falling man silhouette. I never thought that Weiner would choose to end the show with anything so dramatic, though he certainly hinted and toyed with that result for much of the final episode. I was frankly surprised at the episode that Weiner delivered, as it bordered on an old-fashioned, upbeat ending, with each of the major characters getting a send off and the man in the middle seemingly finding redemption (until THAT commercial ran before the close). It’s probably best to mirror Weiner’s approach and take the round robin tour through the characters as we left them.

Pete & Trudy: On a show defined by shallow consumerism, it’s appropriate that the show’s two shallowest characters (well, maybe they aren’t as shallow as Harry Crane, but its a near run thing. Do NOT get in Harry’s way when he’s hungry) found each other again. Pete did show one of his occasional glimpses of humanity saying goodbye to Peggy, but she has a way of uncovering the best in everyone, even Pete. Dear Trudy, you know Pete will disappoint you eventually, but at least you get unlimited use of a private jet out of the deal, so it’s probably worth it to you. They say success is fleeting, but that has to be doubly true of any success that stems from the efforts of Duck Phillips, right? Caveat emptor, Peter.

Betty, Sally, and Bobby #what? 5?: Ah poor Betty. You gained wisdom, clarity, and a sense of self-worth finally, and all it took to cement it was a terminal cancer diagnosis. She showed admirable strength and determination during her final phone call with Don (it was fitting that Don’s final three phone calls were with Sally, Betty, and Peggy, the three women left that he truly cared about, but more on that in a minute), firmly but lovingly rejecting Don’s proposal to return and take the children. Betty, you may have been a crap mom for most of the show, but you ended well. Sally’s eventual nervous breakdown and rebirth as a self help guru in the 80s will likely be delayed for a few years thanks to you and your efforts. Well done, Birdie.

Roger Sterling: Speaking of someone who needs his own talk show, tell me you wouldn’t watch a one-hour, Dick Cavett-style talk show/variety show called Sterling’s Gold (based on the best-selling book)? Enjoy Montreal, Roger. Don summed Marie up best: You know she’s crazy, right? (Best: Joan’s reaction to Roger’s reveal of the identity of his latest, and possibly final, flame.)

Joan Harris: Let me just say this: I LOVED Joan’s final storyline. For so long she’s been defined by what she looks like and what men want to do for her/to her, good and bad, so it was really thrilling to see her cast off a seemingly dream relationship to pursue her new career. Even Peggy, seemingly her ally but someone who she has always had something of frosty relationship with, has consistently underestimated Joan and dismissed her potential based on her looks. Rock on, Joan Harris. You deserve it, and don’t let the fellas define who you are anymore, and stay away from the cocaine, m’kay? (I’m totally willing to overlook the fact that your move to independence was definitely underwritten by the generous bequest to your son from Roger, ensuring his future regardless of what happens to Harris Productions.)

Peggy (and Stan): So, the one thing I didn’t really expect from Mr. Weiner was straight up fan service. Mad Men has always been as much Peggy’s story as Don’s, but did anybody see the Nora Ephron movie ending coming for Peggy and Stan? I can see why she rejected Joan’s offer and the chance to be her own boss; she’s always wanted to succeed in advertising, and Joan’s offer, while enticing on the surface, would have been ultimately unfulfilling. (Also, see above about her refusal to take Joan seriously on a professional level.) Regardless, everybody’s thrilled to see that Peggy is seemingly happy, but little does know that by staying at McCann she’s likely steering into the path of Hurricane Draper again in he near future.

Don: First off, let say that I’m thoroughly unnerved by the sight of Don Draper in a denim jacket. It’s fitting that we get see his three phone calls with the there women left who he truly cares about, and each of them reject him in their own way. Even Peggy, who seemingly shows the most concern for him, doesn’t seem to spare him a second thought once Stan the Man comes into the picture. It slowly dawns on Don that none of these women need him, that they are truly better off and have made their own way without him. So surely here’s where Don is going to fulfill the reoccurring prophecy of the credits and hurl himself off the cliffs into the sea below, right? Well no, but at least Don’s transformation back into Dick Whitman is going to be made whole by some group therapy, self-reflection, and early morning meditation. But then we see the smile, and one of the most iconic television ads in history rolls and the meaning is clear: here is the ultimate triumph of consumerism over everything. Neither personal redemption, nor cultural ideals can stand in the way of a great Don Draper pitch, and in retrospect it should have been obvious (and it was obvious to one TV critic and his colleague). The Coke account was the bait that McCann used to try and lure Don into the fold from season 1, and presumably it finally succeeded. Mad Men has never shied away from cynicism, so it seems fitting that Don’s final moments should be a smirking, jingle-filled monument to the triumph of that cynicism to over all.

Whatever you make of the ending, Mad Men ended on Mathew Weiner’s terms, and I’ll miss it. It’s not too late, though, for Trudy to come to her senses. RUN FOR THE HILLS. TRUDY! Wait, there are no hills in Kansas.

Cheers.

The best of 1966 mix tape

1966 wasn’t quite the juggernaut that 1965 was, but only just. It did, however, likely boast the best single day in music history, as both Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde and The Beach Boys’ revelatory Pet Sounds were released on May 16 of that year. What are the odds of two top 15 albums in history getting turned loose on the same day? It’s the equivalent of Point Break and Roadhouse being released into theaters on the same day. Just unfathomable.

I also just spent more time than anybody in their right mind should spend debating whether to include I Am A Rock or Homeward Bound as the Simon & Garfunkel entry for the year. In the end I went with the latter since it is 30 seconds shorter and fit the mix slightly better. It’s not quite flipping a coin, but I probably would have ended up there eventually.

As always, I’m pouring a 40 on the curb in honor of the missing Beatles song that would have made this list. This one hurts a lot since it would have come from Revolver. Then again, that just means that I don’t have to choose just one song from it, so maybe it’s for the best (though it totally would have been She Said She Said).

Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers

Kicking things off with a killer guitar riff. A great tune, even if it appeared on both the Bowfinger soundtrack AND Bruce Willis’ The Return of Bruno.

Under My Thumb – The Rolling Stones

One of truly iconic Stones’ tunes.

God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

The story goes that Brian Wilson heard The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, and was so blown away by it that he was inspired to make Pet Sounds, which in turn inspired Lennon and McCartney to make Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. I’m not convinced that Pet Sounds isn’t the best of the three.

Visions of Johanna – Bob Dylan

Who knows who or what inspired Dylan to write this 1000 pound bolder of awesome, but frankly I don’t care, because I still get to listen to it anytime that I want, and that’s all that matters.

Hold On! I’m Comin’ – Sam & Dave

A straight up R&B classic.

I Fought the Law – The Bobby Fuller Four

The definitive version of one rock’s great songs, though it’s a cover of a post-Buddy Holly Crickets’ recording. Personally I’ll take The Clash version though.

Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder

What were you doing when you were 15? Stevie was recording songs like this. Makes you feel good about your life, no?

Homeward Bound – Simon & Garfunkel

Congratulation for being 30 seconds shorter, Homeward Bound! You take the prize.

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg – The Temptations

This tune is all about those horns. It’s kind of ridiculous how many great songs the Temps had. This could just as easily have been Get Ready.

Last Train to Clarksville – The Monkees

Yes, I know all about how The Monkees came to be, and I don’t care. This song is great, plain and simple.

When A Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge

Just a massive, massive song from a huge talent.

Eight Miles High – The Byrds

Psychedelic, daddy-o! Something like that, though I think I may be mixing my 50s/60s lingo.

You Can’t Hurry Love – The Supremes

Another monster Motown hit.

I Can’t Control Myself – The Troggs

It’s kind of mind boggling to me that the same guy who wrote this and Love is All Around also wrote “Wild thing, you make my heart sing.”

Try A Little Tenderness – Otis Redding

I’ve long since gotten over hearing my favorite songs used to shill products in TV commercials, but McDonalds using this one to hawk chicken strips recently was especially harsh.

These Boots Are Made For Walking – Nancy Sinatra

Both Frank and Nancy had records out in 1966, and Nancy wins going away.

Reach Out (I’ll Be There) – The Four Tops

Another Motown hit factory with just a crazy number of great songs.

Tell It Like It Is – Aaron Neville

Hands down one of my favorite songs ever. Few have possessed a sweeter voice than this man.

The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore – The Walker Brothers

An early taste of greatness from Scott Walker and his “brothers.”

There it is, 1966 in all of its glory. Only three more playlists to go! Here’s the Spotify playlist for for listening/subscribing pleasure.

Which one of your favorites did I miss (I Am A Rock, I know, I know)?

Cheers.

The best of 1965 mix tape

It probably goes without saying that 1965 was a great year for music. How great was it? Try this on for size: Three of the most famous songs in rock history were released in 1965 (Satisfaction, My Generation, and Like A Rolling Stone), and NONE of them made the cut for this list. Don’t get me wrong, I love all three, but the Stones’ version of Satisfaction wasn’t even the best version released in 1965 (I think even Mick and Keith would agree that Otis Redding’s is just better), The Kids Are Alright is just a smidgen better than My Generation, and it’s basically a crap shoot amongst Bob Dylan songs given the fact that he put out TWO classic albums in this twelve month span (Bringing It All Back Home and Highway ’61 Revisited). I’m just partial to Subterranean Homesick Blues, but really you could pick one of a half dozen tracks there and I wouldn’t be able to argue with you.

There’s such an embarrassment of riches here, and that’s not even taking into account The Beatles’ Rubber Soul (not available on Spotify and one of the all-time stone classics, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, a truly great and transcendent work, but one that I just couldn’t justify including here due to the length of most of the tracks and the lack of flow with the rest of the mix tape. Also, Motown was at it’s absolute peak, so just sit back and enjoy all of the fried gold that I was able to add to this mix.

Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan

A fantastic tune and a pretty amazing bit of lyrical dexterity, which oddly is a prelude to hip-hop in its own way.

Respect – Otis Redding

Don’t get me wrong here, Aretha Franklin took this song and made it her own, and the feminist themes certainly play better to modern ears than the paternal, borderline masochist vibe of Redding’s original. This version absolutely SLAYS though, just dripping with soul and raw magnetism.

You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me – Dusty Springfield

For all of you that shower love on Janis Joplin, what you really should be doing instead is making yourself prostrate at the shrine of Dusty.

Help Me, Rhonda – The Beach Boys

As good and fun as the Boys early records were, it was all prelude to the masterpiece they are about to drop in 1966. Still love this tune a lot though.

People Get Ready – The Impressions

A great song on its own, it took on even greater significance as an anthem for the Civil Rights movement.

Tired of Waiting for You – The Kinks

A cool little combo of pop, blues, and early psychedelia.

Ain’t That Peculiar – Marvin Gaye

This is the beginning of a pretty amazing run by Marvin Gaye, whose output through his death in 1984 stands up with anyone. Give credit to Robin Thicke, Pharrell, et al for one thing: if you’re going to steal from somebody, at least you picked a really good source.

For Your Love – The Yardbirds

See the write up above for the Kinks.

In the Midnight Hour – Wilson Pickett

Note for note, this just might be the best song of the bunch. Just a powerhouse of R&B.

Nowhere to Run – Martha & The Vandellas

See what I mean about Motown absolutely killing it? It only get better from here.

California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas

Pretty much a given for this list. Amusing side story though: In my crazed college record collecting days, one of the holy grails for R.E.M. fans was a bootleg called “Return of the Rickenbacker,” which featured a live cover of this song. The catch was that you needed a variable speed turntable to get it to play correctly, as the correct speed was this nebulous setting somewhere between 33 and 45 rpm. This was how I spent my time and treasure when I was younger instead of studying or saving money. And it was totally worth it.

The Tracks of My Tears – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

The next time you feel good about your career, stop and take a look at all of the songs that Smokey Robinson wrote in the 60s, not only for himself but for virtually every artist in the Motown stable. It’s remarkably humbling.

Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds

The Byrds were one of those bands that were really good, but gained even more importance historically based on the bands (Big Star, R.E.M., etc) that they directly influenced. Love that jingling, jangly Rickenbacker sound, especially when they bust out the 12-string.

It’s the Same Old Song – Four Tops

Rarely does a song that sounds so upbeat and happy musically sucker punch you with lyrics quite so sad and melancholy. One of the truly great songs of its time.

The Kids Are Alright – The Who

I know every likes My Generation better. Maybe it’s the stuttering, who knows. For my money thought this is the better tune.

My Girl – The Temptations

This song is basically the yardstick against which all other pop songs are measured. A slice of pop perfection.

King of the Road – Roger Miller

Such a great song, and one that I absolutely kill at karaoke, for what it is worth.

Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers

Wait, maybe this is the pop song against which all others should be measured. This is starting to make my brain hurt.

Hang on Sloopy – The McCoys

Maybe this song deserves a spot on here, and maybe it doesn’t. I’ve always loved it though, and I defy you to listen to it and not feel instantly 16% better.

I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown

Come on, this just feels like piling on at this point.

The Spider and the Fly – The Rolling Stones

Ok, I know it’s a stretch to pick this one over Satisfaction and Get Off My Cloud, but hear me out. The Stones are at their best when they do their country/blues thing (see just about all of Exile on Main Street), and, as I’ve written before, anytime Mick busts out his exaggerated, fake country accent I’m totally on board. The Spider and the Fly ticks all of those boxes, and it doesn’t suffer when compared to an Otis Redding version, so that’s enough for me. Plus, the lyrics are frankly amazing. Check out the great live in studio version that appears on 1995’s Stripped.

Wow. I’m exhausted just putting that list together. It’s quite the juggernaut, Beatles or no. Here’s the Spotify playlist for your listening/subscribing pleasure. (FYI, like the forgetful old man that I am rapidly becoming, I totally forgot to add the Spotify playlist to my 1964 post. I’ve corrected that through the magic of editing. Doh!)

Which of your favorites did I miss?

Cheers.

The best of 1964 mix tape

1964 is one of those years I was really looking forward to tackling, as for me it marks the true start of the rock era, at least in terms of how pop and rock music were presented. This was the first year that the album started to become a major format, though one off singles were still the dominant medium for music for another year or two. Reading through the major releases for the year, it’s quite easy to come down a bit dizzy reading the multiple classic releases from acts like the Beatles, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. It certainly makes things difficult when trying to make up a mix tape, especially when you limit yourself to one entry per act. Realistically, how do you choose between The Beach Boys “I Get Around” and “Warmth of the Sun”? (You choose the superior “Don’t Worry Baby, of course.)

Difficult choices aside, I really like the way this mix turned out, so let’s jump right into it.

Time Is On My Side – The Rolling Stones

The first true great single from the Stones, and one of their last covering American R&B and soul acts. The songwriting duo of Jagger/Richards was about to unleash itself on the world in earnest.

It Ain’t Me Babe – Bob Dylan

“The Times They Are a Changin'” is the better known song from this year, but “It Ain’t Me Babe” is a personal favorite and a song of frankly stunning depth and maturity from somebody so young.

You Don’t Own Me – Dusty Springfield

Dusty’s powerhouse vocals are on full display here.

Good Morning Little School Girl – Muddy Waters

Waters’ The Folk Singer is one of the truly underrated great albums of all time. Seek it out anywhere you can, but it’s available on Spotify for sure.

A Change is Going to Come – Sam Cooke

One of the great singers of the modern era, who sadly wouldn’t live to see the end of the year this song was released, a fact that only makes the lyrics even more sad and poignant.

Don’t Worry Baby – The Beach Boys

Two years before the epic Pet Sounds was released, this slice of pop fried gold alone would have been enough to establish Brian Wilson as one of the great American songwriters. And to think it was a B-side to “I Get Around” at one point.

Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley

Even though Col. Tom Parker was evidently intent on destroying Elvis’ career with a string of horrible movies, he couldn’t keep the occasional piece of musical brilliance from sneaking out.

My Guy – Mary Wells

One of the seminal Motown songs. If only she had been wise enough not to leave Motown at such a young age.

The Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel

This is the original, acoustic version of this song, and it crushes the later, more popular version like a grape.

All Day and All of the Night – The Kinks

As much as I love this song, it’s hard to listen to once you realize that the most overrated band of all time (I’m looking at you, The Doors), ripped it off mercilessly for “Hello, I Love You.” One of the many reasons this space is a fervent No Doors Zone.

Baby Love – The Supremes

This song is pretty much pop perfection.

Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison

If you are looking for a way to screen potential friends, play this song and then play the later cover version by Van Halen. If your potential friend picks the original, then they are a definite keeper.

Walk On By – Dionne Warwick

If you are making a short list of great American songwriters, take a look at Burt Bacharach’s resume and tell me he isn’t on the short list. I dare you.

No Particular Place To Go – Chuck Berry

Love this song, but I’m a bit bummed that I couldn’t find space on here for a track from the little heard but completely amazing Bo Diddley/Chuck Berry collab Two Great Guitars. Look that one up on Spotify. You will not be disappointed.

Baby I Need Your Loving – The Four Tops

Here’s a hint from me to you. If you’re putting together a mix tape/cd/playlist to try and impress that special someone, don’t sleep on this gem. Trust me on this one.

Gloria – Them

A great tune, featuring a young, angry, and growling Northern Irishman named Van Morrison on vocals.

The Little Old Lady From Pasadena – Jan & Dean

I let my irrational love of surf music get the better of me here by including this and not House of the Rising Sun by The Animals, and I’m ok with that.

I’m Into Something Good – Herman’s Hermits

See above, even though this isn’t surf music. It’s just impossible to listen to and stay in a bad mood, and it was used to great effect in the Naked Gun, one of the funniest movies ever. (It’s Enrico Palazzo!)

She’s Not There – The Zombies

If you were to come up with a list of underrated bands in rock history, The Zombies would be high on that list. Just an epic tune.

Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey

One of the reasons the Bond films have remained popular to this day? Awesome theme songs is one, no doubt. This one may be the best of the lot.

There you go. A mighty fine mix, indeed. With this one down, there’s only five years left to cover. I’m not going to lie to you. I love making playlists and mix tapes as much as anybody ever has, but this project has pushed that love of mine to limit. Now that I’m near the end though, I’m picking up steam again, so I should be able to see it through.

Here’s the Spotify playlist for your listening/subscribing pleasure.

Which one of your favorites from the year did I miss?

Cheers

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