Music of the Sixties
Freedom! There was no greater time than the sixties for young people so aware of and defensive of their "Freedom". Rock n roll music, civil rights, a man on the moon, a presidential assassination, Vietnam, Cuban missile crisis, Martin Luther King, the "counter-culture" revolution, the anti-war movement, gay rights, these things made the music of the sixties. Anyone who lived through the sixties has visions of Haight Ashbury, California in their heads along with flowers in girls' hair and guys and gals doing the twist. There is no other music like music in the sixties! Just like there was no other time like the sixties!
A blend of rock n roll, ballads, folk, protest, all popular in the sixties. The decade when youth found their voice and they weren't afraid to use it. Even Ed Sullivan (TV host) brought the best music to TV. Concerts, sing-a-longs, sit ins, records, TV, songs were everywhere. Not to mention sit ins and protests, ah, the sixties.
Sixties Music Hits (A partial list)
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Like a Rolling Stone
You've Lost That Lovin Feelin
Light My Fire
She Loves You
Whole Lotta Love
Be My Baby
The Sounds of Silence
Ticket to Ride
Tracks of My Tears
Bad Moon Risin
Glad All Over
In My Life
I Can See For Miles
Hit The Road Jack
Get Off My Cloud
Turn, Turn, Turn
A Natural Woman
Hang on Sloopy
Sixties Rock Songs
Some of the best rock n roll came from Mowtown! Founded in 1960, Mowtown Records provided the world with a new sound. Mowtown was the first record label owned by an African American and included artists like Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder. The first hit for Mowton Records was "Shop Around" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
At the same time, Elvis got out of the Army and started singing again. His first album was "Elvis is Back". Songs like "Are You Lonesome Tonight", "Return to Sender", "Good Luck Charm" and "Blue Hawaii" were all hits. Twenty-two movies and a marriage to Priscilla made the sixties a busy time for Elvis.
Hips were moving to "The Twist" by Chubby Checker and "Twist and Shout" by the Isley Brothers. Johnny Cash sang "Ring of Fire" and the Bee Gees sang "To Love Somebody".
Oh and I have to mention the Beach Boys. I'm from New York but I loved their California sound! They started in 1961 and took over the music scene. They had thirty six top forty hits including; "I Get Around", "409", "Surf City", "Surfin' Safari", "Don't Worry Baby", to name a few, and everyone loves "Good Vibrations". There were lots of issues after Carl Wilson died in 1998, however, the group has performed together several times in 2012 though there are currently no official reunion plans.
No one can forget the rise of the Beatles! In 1964 they came to America and brought their own sound and music. The four mop tops from across the pond took America by storm. Everyone was singing "She Loves You". The Beatles were so successful they were quickly followed by other British groups like The Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, Dusty Springfield, Peter and Gordon, Petula Clark, Donovan, The Who and The Moody Blues. British voices rocked the airwaves.
Protest songs from artists like the Kingston Trio, Barry McGuire, Donovan and more.
While the Ronettes and Marveletts were singing, a new talent hit the radio airwaves, one Joan Baez who used her folk music for political activism. She was more or less the beginning of folk and "social enlightenment" songs. "I went to jail for 11 days for disturbing the peace; I was trying to disturb the war." Joan Baez. She teamed up with Bob Dylan, musically and romantically, and the movement was on it's way. Protest and activism where now a part of the music scene.
We have always had "patriotic" music in this County, and there has always been protest music in the world but this protest music took patriotism to a new level. Hippies and "Flower Power" led the way. Even though rock n roll was new on the scene, it's artists recognized the influence their music had over their listeners.
Since I've already mentioned Bob Dylan, why not look at his "Blowin in the Wind"? "The answer my friend is blowin in the wind." Dylan was telling the world, the answer is right in front of us but we can't see it! Stop looking and do something! Guess that applied then and it applies now, "the answer my friend is blowin in the wind". Many of these singers were geniuses in their own right, trying to set the world straight. Modern day troubadours that took up where medieval ones left off.
We know from experience, Baez and Dylan were far from our only protest singers. Even everyday rock n roll singers jumped on the bandwagon and sang protest songs. To name a few:
- Turn, Turn,, Turn - the Byrds
- He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - Kelly Gordon
- Coming Home Soldier - Bobby Vinton
- Daddy's Home - Shep & the Limelights
- In the Year 2525 - Zager and Evans
- Give Peace a Chance - John Lennon
John Lennon became well known for his protest to the Vietnam war and then, any war. He constantly promoted peace and love.
Pete Seeger joined the 1960s movement and brought his past experiences with him. Seeger always stood up for the working man and believed in his country.
Have you listened to the words of Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence"? Yet another protest song, but done gently; "in restless dreams I walk alone.... People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening, People writing songs that voices never share And no one dared, Disturb the sound of silence."
In The Year 2525
Peter Paul and Mary
This album includes some of the best known and most loved songs given to us by the trio of Peter, Paul, and Mary. A free MP3 version of the album is included.
The folk music revival paralleled the protest music, even included it in some instances. Often referred to as the 'counter-culture', folk music represented the feelings of the sixties. More than half of the population was under thirty years old in the sixties. Hippies appeared on the scene believing in peace and free love. Of course when one thinks of hippies, Woodstock comes to mind. Woodstock, a rock music festival promoting that belief in peace and free love.
It has been said that folk music didn't last because you couldn't dance to it. I don't know if that's true or not but I do know it lost it's place in popular music after the early seventies. While it was popular, however, there were great artists and great songs.
The Kingston Trio was one of the most well known folk groups of the sixties, though they started in the late fifties. Songs like "Scotch and Soda" had that old folksy sound. Probably one of their most well known songs is "Tom Dooley", the song based on the 1886 murder of Laura Foster by Confederate Tom Dula (pronounced Dooley). He was Laura's lover and fiance. The murder and trial were widely covered in the newspapers at the time.
"Hang down your head Tom Dooley, hang down your head and cry,
Hand down your head Tom Dooley, poor boy you're gonna die."
Another famous group, or rather trio, were Peter, Paul and Mary. Let me correct that statement, they are probably the most famous folk group to come out of the sixties. They would be Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers. They recorded their first album in 1962. Their recording of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" was a big hit. Just for your information, Pete Seeger wrote the first three verses of that song.
"Puff the Magic Dragon" was probably their biggest hit and is still used as a children's song today. It was written from a poem written by a college student, and is about the loss of childhood innocence, not drug use as is often implied. Peter, Paul and Mary liked to include children's songs in each of their albums.
Puff the Magic Dragon
The music of the sixties encompasses a world of talent, types and songs. The artists that emerged in the sixties are among the best loved ever! The top songs of the sixties are hard to pick. Ask different people, go to different sites on the Internet, and you'll get different results. Where you were and what you were doing will most likely influence your choice.
Those not around in the sixties will have a totally different perspective and may not appreciate the songs we do.
I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down memory lane and this glimpse at music in the sixties.