Top Songs of 1968 - The Summer of Despair
1968 started out so full of hope and promise in the United States, but by April 4th the downward spiral had begun. Robert F. Kennedy was running for President and Martin Luther King Jr. was at the height of his powers. After RFK announced he was running for President, LBJ dropped out of the race. It did not look like a shoo-in but there was a possibility RFK would be the next US president.
On April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered. This sparked country-wide rioting; all but Indianapolis where RFK gave one of his greatest speeches. Then, just 2 months later RFK was murdered after winning the California primary. After Richard Nixon was elected in November of that year, many people who had been full of idealism just gave up.
But, it was not all bad.
There was still some amazing music
to try to help to help soothe people’s souls after so much violence and hopelessness. Some amazing music came out of that year and most of it is timeless.
Otis Redding - (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay
I think I remember this song more from the early 70s than from 1968. Otis Redding has such a great voice. This song brings back memories of the seaside and the summer.
This song was at the top of the Billboard charts on April 4, 1968, the day Martin Luther King was shot.
Simon and Garfunkel - Mrs Robinson
From the movie The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, “You’re trying to seduce me Mrs. Robinson.” I liked Simon and Garfunkel’s fresh, folksy sound.
This song was at the top of the charts on June 6, the day RFK was shot.
The Doors - Hello, I Love You
Jim Morrison was definitely one of the great voices of the late 60s and an amazing performer. He was also a poet and a creative genius in my opinion.
The Four Tops – Don’t Walk Away Renee
I absolutely love the Four Tops; this is one of their greatest hits. It was originally recorded by the Left Banke in 1966. Levi Stubbs has an instantly recognizable voice.
Steppenwolf - Born to be Wild
I saw the film Easy Rider in 1970 at a retrospective theatre in Toronto. Of course I had heard the song before that. It is a classic song...by a great Canadian band. It got a lot of airplay in Canada in 1969, the year my family and I moved to Canada.
Status Quo - Pictures of Matchstick Men
I had to include some psychedelic music. This is long time favorite song of mine. It is so English and Status Quo were one of the most popular bands of the time.
Gary Puckett and the Union Gap - Young Girl
Even as a kid I loved this guy’s voice, it was so powerful. The songs were great too. I remember listening to this single on a little portable record player of my older sister’s.
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Susie Q
I didn’t really get into CCR until the early 70s, and then I got into them in a big way. My brother-in-law had left some of his albums at our house and I spent hours listing to them; he had maybe 3 CCR albums. Great stuff and it stands the test of time.
Aretha Franklin - Think
Aretha has one of the all time greatest voices in popular music. I can’t think of any song of hers that I don’t like.
The Turtles - Elenore
Another happy, shiny Turtles song; I featured Happy Together in my Songs of 1967 article. I hadn’t heard this song in a few years but I remembered all the lyrics.
The Beatles - Hey Jude
This is a classic Beatles tune. I have been a Beatles fan since I was 6 or 7. My friends and I used to play Beatles. I was Paul and played my tennis racket with my left hand. I remember at one of my birthday parties The Beatles showed up on television, everyone ran from the table before we even had cake to see them.
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