And now the thrilling conclusion to 1965. If you think this is a lot of songs just wait until 1966 – that’s going to end up being split in 3.
List Item: Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die
Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
Our first track sung by Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan. This song would have had more effect on our listening if it hadn’t ended up being the first of the second half. This is so unbelievably different to whatever had come before (in terms of the 1001 songs list and music in general).
The big shock, at least for me, is just how successful this was. It isn’t like Bob Dylan was this artist that was appreciated by music-lovers only and not as much the mainstream. This song managed to get to the top reaches of the singles charts. That’s incredibly when you actually think about this cynical, biting poem set to music was able to reach the same notice as girl groups and the Beatles.
People Get Ready – The Impressions
I’m missing something with this one. I get that the imagery in this track is making reference to the Underground Railroad movement that helped to free slaves in the Southern states. I get that this was written at a time where the Civil Rights Movement was making tracks and that this was a good rallying cry that could be used in the churches. However, this is ranked so highly in so many best of lists… and I just hear a fairly generic gospel song from the 1960s.
Looks like this might just be me.
Who Do You Love – The Preachers
Well. That was different.
This is described as being a ‘high energy’ version of a Bo Diddley song. Not sure if that’s an adequate description. This is not on the list because it’s one of the best songs, but because of what it represents: proto-punk.
What we have here is a band trying to take the rock and roll sound and play it harder, faster, rawer and screamier (okay not a word). It’s not punk as we know it, but in the context of what was around at the time this is something very different.
Now to rescue my eardrums before moving on. Ouch.
The Carnival Is Over – The Seekers
This is more of what I expect from a 1960s song. A hugely successful pop-folk hybrid that sold over 1.4 million copies in the UK alone.
With this level of nostalgic melancholy it is unsurprising that this track originates from an old folk song – specifically a Russian folk song. It’s melody has been adapted by the brother of Dusty Springfield who also composed lyrics that were vastly different to the original Russian ones (which were about a peasant uprising… cheery).
This is just one of those nice inoffensive songs that just sounds good. Middle of the road, but good.
Psycho – The Sonics
This is another one of those songs where we are starting to see rock and roll morph into something harder and a bit punkier. It doesn’t hit the screamy heights of ‘Who Do You Love’, but this is most definitely part of the evolution.
The genre at this stage is garage rock (a bit of a Ronseal name there for a type of rock and roll kids would play in the garage) and we are not yet at the stage of punk.
It’s interesting to think that it would take 10-15 years before the definitive punk albums start to be made (Ramones, Never Mind the Bollocks etc) and yet we are starting that evolution in 1965. Makes you wonder what music is brewing right now only to explode in a decades time.
I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now) – Otis Redding
Otis Redding is another one of those talents from the 1960s where there is a great sense of a ‘what if’ about them. Dead at 26 in a plane crash.
This song is most definitely soul, but it just feels that tiny bit more nuanced. There’s something in the vocals here and the light arrangement that leave you wanting just that little bit more.
Stop! In The Name of Love – The Supremes
This is very much the other side of soul. More upbeat and intertwined with pop sensibilities.
As much as this song is incredibly famous you can not hear that chorus without seeing the simple (yet legendary) choreography of the girl group simultaneously raising their hand as they say ‘Stop’ with their hand squarely placed on their hips. Classic.
Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan
Back again to the Nobel Laureate. Where you can’t think of ‘Stop! In The Name of Love’ without the dance move, you can’t hear ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ without the mental image of the music video where Dylan is dropping cards with the lyrics on them.
It’s annoying that this song is later on the list than ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ as this was the earlier song. You can tell this song is earlier as, for Dylan, this song feels just that bit more mainstream. It’s a protest song with a vein of blues rock running through.
Seriously, why wouldn’t you make this list completely chronological rather than chronological just by year. Honestly.
The Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
Damn it ‘Arrested Development’ I had to restart this song because I started laughing at the image of a depressed Will Arnett.
This is one of the great Simon & Garfunkel songs (although ‘The Boxer’ remains my favourite) and is one of those incredibly recognised pieces of folk rock. In part this is probably due to it’s use in ‘The Graduate’.
It’s a weird song as it is about isolation and yet it feels strangely uplifting. To think, Simon and Garfunkel had already disbanded before this had become successful!
My Generation – The Who
Easily one of the most famous rock songs from this era. Like the Rolling Stones from earlier in the year this is very much the pulling away of the harder rock from the rest of the genre.
It’s an interesting structure of the ‘call and response’ that we would have seen more in the RnB songs from earlier years. Also interesting to listen to is the implied swearing – which works remarkably well and helps to make this song radio friendly.
Between this, the Stones and the Kinks it is very clear that Britain was leading the way in this new sub-genre of music.
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
Now to end on something remarkably vanilla that simultaneously makes you think of Demi Moore having sex on a potter’s wheel.
Whenever you listen to this song, remember that this was a throwaway B-side. This was not the song that DJs were meant to be playing. This was not meant to be the hit. This timeless and powerful recording was just an afterthought.
I know I called this vanilla, but it is a spectacular song in its own right. Bobby Hatfield delivers the best vocals of any song in this batch and, aside from Nina Simone, possibly even this year.
Sure it is incredibly easy to dismiss this song as being easy listening… there’s nothing wrong with easy listening done this well.