What Happened, 1966-1968

September 11, 2017 at 7:15 pm (Music What Happened Mixes)


If you were in a band and could sing and play at all — and most importantly, if you had at least one really good song — in the years 1966 through 1970 you stood the best chance of any year in pop music history of your work being heard outside of your own circle of friends and family. No guarantees, obviously, but I think this was the era where — more than any other before or since — interesting, creative music artists stood a puncher’s chance to at least achieve some regional “sort-of” fame.

To get to the root of that, I think we need to look back at 1965 for just a second. In Music What Happened, when Scott Miller writes about “Yesterday”, he makes an excellent point — and one I’d not heard made before. He points out that before that landmark Beatles/McCartney single, it was still (tenuously) possible to dismiss rock and pop music as some sort of bobby-soxer teen fad. But then here comes “Yesterday”, and that’s it. Game over, rock and roll dismissers. Suddenly rock and pop and soul are perfectly acceptable not only for people over 30 to listen to, the music also has serious artistic cachet. In other words, as much as any song in the 10 year history of rock and roll to that point, “Yesterday” kind of really did mean rock and roll was here to stay.

And so, in comes an era in which small record labels are thriving, and  which in turn coincides with this crazy period in which there were thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of independent AM radio stations. These twin forces created a fertile soil for a flowering of rock and soul and pop creativity. The little record labels realized rock was king, and they could sell a lot of records (by their standards) if they could record some of those groups. Radio stations realized that they everyone — not just the kids — was listening, and could boost ratings and ad dollars by playing that devil’s music. They needed as much rock and roll and pop and soul as they could get their hands on, too.

And so here we are in this richest of music eras. I have more I want to say about some specific tracks and choices, so lets get right to the year-by-year notes.

1966: Nothing too major to note, technically. I went with the mono version of “Paperback Writer”, because the separation on the stereo version I think presents the Beatles as closer, but not quite ready for that presentation. It should also be noted that in his book, Scott Miller notes cheekily that he’s breaking his own rule about one song per band (other than the Beatles) in 1966 in the case of the Beach Boys. As he sagely notes, “I’m not going to be the one making a 1966 list and leaving out the original teenage symphony to God.”

I also completely agree with this sentiment from our tour guide Scott Miller, expressed in his bit on “Emily”: “…What any given Simon and Garfunkel album needed was always less Simon, more Garfunkel.” His vocals on that track are exceptional.

Finally, I love that Miller’s track listing puts The Monkees right behind Jimi Hendrix. That these two were once paired up on a tour was always one of the favorite old skool rock critic funny illustrations of how 1960s promoters just didn’t get it, the implication being that putting pikers like the prefab four in front of a heavyweight like Hendrix was somehow insulting to Jimi’s memory.  As Miller notes though, “When your track can follow Hendrix and sound bigger, I’d say you get to be in the real band club.”

1967: The main technical notes here are that I used the mono mix on “Lucifer Sam”. Pink Floyd recorded it that way, and I’m unsold on the later stereo version. Also, for fun I left in the backward masking weirdness at the very tail end of “Day In The Life”. So….heads up if you’re listening in the dark late at night and don’t want a case of Beatle-inspired willies.

As far as songs go, I love Miller’s hot take on (again) the Monkees: “It’s almost as hard to pick only one Monkees tune in 1967 as it is to pick only two Beatles tunes.” I’m not totally sold on that, but it’s an interesting statement which he defends well.

The other song to call out here is “Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks. With this song in the 1967 year mix, “God Only Knows” in the 1966 mix, and “Yesterday” in 1965, we’ve got this tremendous run of rock songs that are perhaps the three finalists for “Most beautiful rock and roll song ever recorded.” I think I go with “Waterloo Sunset”, by the way. The ethereal gorgeousness of the high vocal harmonies (sung, uncredited, by Ray’s then-wife, Rasa Davies in one of the greatest backing vocal performances ever) end up carrying the day.

1968: For this year, we’ve finally fully graduated the Beatles to stereo mixes. We also have a bit of another anachronism here. “Good Times, Bad Times” didn’t appear until the winter of 1969…but it was indeed recorded in November/December of 1968, so here it is. Miller notes that this track definitely must be ripped from vinyl, and I’ve done so for this mix.

1968 also has the single noisiest track of perhaps the entire book and all these mixes, with “Paralyzed” by The Legendary Stardust Cowboy. The best way I can come up with to explain this song is this: what Charles “Victory” Faust was to baseball, Mr. Stardust Cowboy is to rock. Miller’s write-up on this song is hysterically funny, noting how polarizing this track is. “It will lose you some friends,” he says. And then notes:

“But friends who don’t appreciate a cowboy at the outer limits of insane screaming accompanied by a banjo and drums that turn insane during the song are friends who will always come and go. And if I ask you how you bring such music to a climax, and you answer ‘bugle solo,’ come get a hug.”

Amen to that.

What Happened, 1966

1966 mp3 to download and track list

  1. “Batman Theme” Neal Hefti
  2. “Paperback Writer” The Beatles
  3. “Big Spender” Sweet Charity Original Cast Recording
  4. “Solitary Man” Neil Diamond
  5. “Wild Thing” The Troggs
  6. “Big Fat Silver Aeroplane” Roy Harper
  7. “Shapes of Things” The Yardbirds
  8. “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her” Simon and Garfunkel
  9. “Summer in the City” The Lovin’ Spoonful
  10. “Remember You” The Zombies
  11. “Georgy Girl” The New Seekers
  12. “Walk Away Renee” The Left Banke
  13. “Making Time” The Creation
  14. “Good Vibrations” The Beach Boys
  15. “Season of the Witch” Donovan
  16. “Hey Joe” Jimi Hendrix
  17. “(I’m Not Your” Stepping Stone” The Monkees
  18. “Visions of Johanna” Bob Dylan
  19. “God Only Knows” The Beach Boys
  20. “Eight Miles High” The Byrds
  21. “Ruby Tuesday” The Rolling Stones
  22. “And Your Bird Can Sing” The Beatles


What Happened, 1967

1967 mp3 to download and track list

  1. “I See the Rain” The Marmalade
  2. “Penny Lane” The Beatles
  3. “To Sir with Love” Lulu
  4. “Sunshine of Your Love” Cream
  5. “If the Night” The Kaleidoscope
  6. “A Whiter Shade of Pale” Procol Harum
  7. “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” Scott McKenzie
  8. “Wonderful” The Beach Boys
  9. “Carrie Anne” The Hollies
  10. “Citadel” The Rolling Stones
  11. “Windy” The Association
  12. “Alone Again Or” Love
  13. “The Crystal Ship” The Doors
  14. “I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You” Aretha Franklin
  15. “Fairest of the Seasons” Nico
  16. “Waterloo Sunset” The Kinks
  17. “Somebody to Love” The Jefferson Airplane
  18. “Daydream Believer” The Monkees
  19. “Venus in Furs” The Velvet Underground
  20. “Lucifer Sam” The Pink Floyd
  21. “Manic Depression” The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  22. “A Day in the Life” The Beatles


What Happened, 1968

1968 mp3 to download and track list

  1. “Revolution” The Beatles
  2. “Paralyzed” The Legendary Stardust Cowboy
  3. “Israelites” Desmond Dekker and the Aces
  4. “Good Times, Bad Times” Led Zeppelin
  5. “The Garden of Earthly Delights” United States of America
  6. “Astral Weeks” Van Morrison
  7. “Dance to the Music” Sly and the Family Stone
  8. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” Donovan
  9. “Piece of My Heart” Big Brother and the Holding Company
  10. “Wasn’t Born to Follow” The Byrds
  11. “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” Marvin Gaye
  12. “Beechwood Park” The Zombies
  13. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” Otis Redding
  14. “Sympathy for the Devil” The Rolling Stones
  15. “Lather” The Jefferson Airplane
  16. “Chest Fever” The Band
  17. “White Room” Cream
  18. “America” Simon and Garfunkel
  19. “Hey Jude” The Beatles


What Happened 1966-1968

What Happened 1966-1968 three-year mp3 to download.

What’s all this then? It’s what happened, musically, during these particular years. No really! Hit that link for more info.

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