The best of 1968 mix tape
This is the next to the last entry in the “best of…mix tape” project (at least until 2015 is over). I’m not going to lie to you – my enthusiasm for finishing this lagged a bit there towards the end. I love making mix tapes about as much as I love anything in the world outside of my family, friends, and Susanna Hoffs, but after making 60 or so my natural “I don’t want to do anything that I feel like I’m forced to do” gene kicked in, and it got a little tough. So huzzah for overcoming this lifelong instinct and seeing this project through to completion. Now, if only I had found that kind of strength and mental fortitude when taking chemistry or math. “Way to waste a moment of personal growth on something completely worthless” (my mom, just now, probably).
Before I get to the list, a quick word about Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. I’ve had about 15 Zappa tracks on various incarnations of these mixes, but don’t think any have actually made the final cut. Several of them probably should, but Zappa’s music was SO unique and out of the ordinary that quite frankly they sounded too jarring to include. So, consider this restitution for all of the tracks that should have been included, Frank. It’s not like you would have cared one bit, but it makes me feel better at least.
On to the list, which is once again a Doors-free safe haven.
Dance to the Music – Sly & The Family Stone
It’s kind of sad really that one of The Family’s most inconsequential songs from a content standpoint is one of their best musically. Seriously, how can you sit still when this one is playing?
White Light/White Heat – The Velvet Underground
Hey, it’s my favorite heroin-related song, from a band that wrote more than one of them (allegedly).
Song of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
All hail Dusty, first of her name, Mother of Dragons and queen of the Andals and the Seven Kingdoms. Wait, what? No? Well, she should be.
Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) – Jimi Hendrix
When people talk about what an amazing guitar player Hendrix was, this in my mind is the song they are talking about. It wasn’t so much recorded as created, chiseled on stone tablets and sent down from the heavens as gift to all mankind.
Mrs. Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you still, only these days all they see are A-Rod and Brett Gardner.
Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin
Of all the amazing Aretha Franklin songs out there, this is head and shoulders my favorite of the lot.
The Weight – The Band
I don’t really know what it means, but this song just sounds important, doesn’t it?
Pictures of Matchstick Men – Status Quo
Thanks to the popularity of the Camper Van Beethoven cover amongst many people my age, I still meet a lot of folks who do not realize that it was originally a Quo song. Hopefully this clears things up.
Cocaine Blues – Johnny Cash
I’m violating the no live song rule for this one, because, well, it’s Johnny Freaking Cash, and The Man in Black don’t play by your rules, man.
Hurdy Gurdy Man – Donovan
I debated this one for a while. It’s not a song I particularly enjoy to be honest, but it does seem to scream 1968 to such an extent that I couldn’t justify leaving it off the mix. Plus it sounds like the template for about 15 great David Bowie songs.
Mama Tried – Merle Haggard
This one is basically the template for every good country song every written. Trains, Mama, church, sorrow, and prison (I think we can assume there was a large amount of whiskey consumed as well somewhere between hopping the freight train and the life term in prison).
The Village Green Preservation Society – The Kinks
Just my favorite Kinks song ever. Used to excellent effect in the movie Hot Fuzz.
Piece of My Heart – Big Brother & The Holding Company
First off, this isn’t a Janis Joplin solo recording, though most people assume that it is. Second, if it wasn’t for Son of a Preacher man, I would have put the Dusty Springfield version of this song on here. Janis was great and all, but subtly and nuance wasn’t her strong point, and that’s being charitable.
The Way Young Lovers Do – Van Morrison
You can make a very strong case that Astral Weeks is the best album of all time. You’d be wrong, but I wouldn’t try and argue with you all that much.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones
Ok, how’s this for a musical Sophie’s Choice? How do you choose between Sympathy for the Devil and this song? You can’t really. JJF wins by virtue of being shorter, which usually ends up being the tie breaker for these mixes. Can’t go wrong either way, really, though a part of me isn’t sure the best Stones choice here isn’t Prodigal Son. Or maybe Salt of the Earth. Curse you Beggars Banquet and your endless supply of awesomeness!
Ole Man Trouble – Otis Redding
Of all the musicians lost too soon, Otis is probably the one that I miss the most. Nothing but fried gold here.
The Pusher – Steppenwolf
This song is just flat out amazing, and a great way to close things out.
There she is. The penultimate entry in the “Best of…mix tape” project. Here’s the Spotify playlist for your listening/subscribing pleasure.
Admit it, you’re going to miss these when I’m done.