There’s something incredibly comforting about lava lamps, peace signs, bell bottoms, and tie-dye. Not only were the 1960’s an amazing time for fashion, but some of the biggest names in music came from this decade, such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, and The Rolling Stones, just to name a few. We might not have been around back then, but we sure do have an appreciation for the music and inspiration for decades to follow. I asked our music directors to tell me about their favorite song from the 1960’s, and what about that song makes it their favorite.
Zeke: Wine and Roses by John Fahey
As someone who mostly listens to pop and electronic, a completely instrumental folk guitar recording from 1965 may seem like an odd choice. Let me explain myself. Self-taught guitarist John Fahey, even with his lasting legacy in the American folk scene, is often completely unknown to modern musicians. His song Wine and Roses is an especially impressive example of the “American primitive” sound he created. Utilizing fingerpicking and heavily relying on improvisation, Fahey is able to play several melodies simultaneously, all with one hand. I love just how dynamic this song is regarding style, tempo, and volume. In my opinion it’s a must-listen for folk fans.
Ashlyn: Purple Haze BY Jimi Hendrix
I distinctly remember forcing my friend to listen to this song for 15 hours straight, no breaks, just Purple Haze. Jimi Hendrix was such an incredible artist, even though he wasn’t a superstar for long while he was alive. Most of his work was more appreciated post-death, but nobody can deny the impact he had on modern rock and modern psychedelic. My grandmother gave me her original copy of Are You Experienced on vinyl, and I will forever treasure it. Everybody knows at least one Hendrix song, and nobody can deny how influential of a musician he was.
Isak: Helter Skelter By The Beatles
You can never go wrong with The Beatles really. This is my favorite song of the decade because it was so innovative at the time. Heavy rock songs weren’t really a thing back then and Helter Skelter is one of the first ever heavy rock songs there is. Especially during this era in the 60s when guitar players were trying to find these heavy tones for their riffs. When George Harrison opens up the song with those descending open-strum power chords, you know it’s all going to climax. In the world of heavy music, this song is one of the foundations that influenced bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin being the pioneers of metal music. Even some heavy songs today if you listen to their structure, a lot of them have the same buildup used in Helter Skelter.
Megan: For What IT’S Worth By Buffalo Springfield
Most of the time my favorite songs become my favorites because of the memories they’re attached to. Hearing this song takes me back to my first road trip after getting my drivers license. Two of my friends and I went to Palouse Falls, and no joke, for the whole 2 hour drive For What it’s Worth was the only song we listened to. One of my friends had put the song on and we sang it once through. Once it ended the other friend said she hated it. So naturally we put it on repeat just to be annoying 16-year-olds. Now that the memory has fleeted I can appreciate it for more than just the personal sentiment behind it. Buffalo Springfield was ahead of their time writing about the desire for peace during a time where violence was at a high. Lyrically this song remains not only relevant, but important. The chilled instrumental and vocals make pleasant for an easy Sunday morning, and in my case, reminiscing.
Justin: I fall To Pieces By Patsy CLine
Patsy Cline had one of the most hauntingly beautiful voices of all time, and was a pioneer for women in country music. I Fall to Pieces, while not her magnum opus, is a perfect demonstration of what made Patsy such a popular artist in the 60s before her untimely death. In the song, she has an amazing grasp on the power of dynamics. The orchestration of the track complements her perfectly, namely the generous use of steel guitar and the backing vocals provided by The Jordanaires.
Angela: You Really Got Me By The Kinks
I really like this song because it’s lasted through the decades. I think the mark of a truly well-crafted song is when most people still know it, even though they weren’t even close to being born when it was released. Though there are lots of songs from the 60s that this holds true for, I chose this one because it’s perfect to drive to. Any song that makes me want to drive fast with the windows open down an empty road is a winner in my books.
Ryan: Ramble On By Led Zeppelin
I won’t lie, I had to refresh my memory of songs from the sixties that I really enjoyed. After a bit of searching and a cup of coffee later, I settled on a track from Led Zeppelin‘s second album released, Led Zeppelin II. Ramble On is one of those songs that everyone has heard, but they might not know it. It’s played at sporting events around the world, has made many appearances in movies, and even references The Lord of The Rings in the third verse. It was just my luck that my dad happened to have this record on vinyl, which he so generously passed down to me after his record player broke. I remember hearing Ramble On for the first time on vinyl, it was a magical experience. It was during the height of COVID, and I had nothing better to do but get a little high and listen to music. When the track finally played, it sparked something inside of me that brought me to my feet and I couldn’t stop dancing. Whether it was the weed, the music, or a combination of both, it was then that my appreciation for Led Zeppelin grew tenfold. I highly recommend revisiting this track with a nice pair of headphones while dancing around your room. I did it this morning and it automatically made my Monday better.
Dayton: Twist And Shout By The Beatles
This song’s ability to release endorphins in my brain is unmatched. Every time I listen to it, it’s like I’m up on the float with Ferris Bueller, shakin it up without a care in the world. The Beatles, and this hit in particular, never fail to turn a frown upside down!
Austin: I LOve Onions By Susan Christie
This is my mom’s favorite song. On one of her most scratched car CD’s this song comes through clear, or the song is so good the skips aren’t noticeable as my mom’s choreographed dance moves with the broken groove. I love onions.
Gary: Did She Mention My Name By Gordon Lightfoot
Few artists have managed to captured imagery and wonder with as much poetic beauty as Gordon Lightfoot. Each one of his songs evokes a wealth of emotions, varying from nostalgic longing for good times past, to blissful dreaming about the future yet to come. His songs are skillfully crafted to elicit a feeling of sehnsucht, or a deep longing for things beautiful and unknown, and they tug at the heartstrings of everyone who hears them and is willing to truly listen. Did She Mention My Name is no exception. With this song, Lightfoot paints the picture of someone looking back on a distant hometown, and all of the memories and emotions that are intertwined with it. Listening to this song on a crisp fall day is sure to bring about the same such sentiment in the listener, reminding them of fond memories from a different time of life and the people they’ve left behind, and it will leave the listener wondering if those people are dreaming about them, too.
Caden: Bus Stop By The Hollies
It honestly took me some digging to come up with this pick. I don’t necessarily have a lot of sentimental attachment to this song, although it’s never skipped when it comes on. My favorite part of this song our the joyful guitar riffs, I also love how authentic the song sounds, being recorded in the 60’s I just really enjoy the old sound of production.
Davis: Can’t Take My eyes Off You By Frankie Valli
This song is very important to me because my mom and I used to sing and dance to this particular track when we made food together growing up. Frankie Valli would also turn into one of my inspirations for singing and listening to more music. Even today, when I get to spend time with my mom, we are sure to queue this song up first.
Ben: When The Music’s Over By The Doors
When The Music’s Over is a 10 minute jam track that contains nearly every element you could expect from a 60s rock song – bluesy lead guitar, catchy organ rhythms, and a strong lead vocalist whose obscure lyrics will leave any listener wondering what the hell Morrison is talking about. At many times the song feels slow and steady, but suddenly crescendos into loud and dramatic outbursts that help bring out intense themes to match the dark lyrics of the track. This experimental tune provokes thought on consciousness and death, making it a great representation of the 60s.