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?