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?