I swear i'll be writing more in 2014

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Top 105 Songs of 1968

After all that psychedelia in 1967, the sound seems kind of stale in 1968.   The highlights of '68 are the White Album, Jimi Hendrix's best album, and the Rolling Stones making a great country rock album which is the first of its kind. 

105.  As You Said – Cream (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

Making fun of Eric Clapton’s song writing skills has become tiresome.  This is a weirdo song, but there’s something about it I like.  I don’t like like it, I just like it. 

104.  Temptation Inside Your Heart – The Velvet Underground (Rock) – 1968
103.  Only a Northern Song – The Beatles (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968
102.  Winter Lady – Leonard Cohen (Folk) – 1968

In 1992, if you asked me if Leonard Cohen’s “Winter Lady” was as good as the Doors, “Wintertime Love” I would’ve laughed in your face.  Aging …

101.  Dance to the Music – Sly & The Family Stone (Funk) – 1968

… closer to disco …

100.  Fire – Crazy World of Arthur Brown (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

It seems a little silly, but it’s a very lovable song.  Fun matters. 

99.  Long Black Veil – Johnny Cash (Country) – 1968

MISSED SONG ALERT!!!!! I wish I had included the Lefty Frizzell version of this one from 1959, but a little JC will have to do for now.  (It's so hard not to do a Snoop Dogg reference here after saying Frizzell). 

98.  You Can All Join In – Traffic (Pop Rock) – 1968
97.  Love Street – The Doors (Rock) – 1968

This song had lots of potential, but it required Jim’s good soft voice and he no longer had it, so what you basically have is a really nice melody sung by a drunk. 

96.  Martha My Dear – The Beatles (Pop) – 1968
95.  M’Lady – Sly & The Family Stone (Funk) – 1968

I don’t know if this is good or bad, but you probably don’t have disco without Sly. 

94.  Pearly Queen – Traffic (Rock) - 1968
93.  Walk on the Water – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Rock) – 1968

These San Francisco bands really love to jam. 

92.  Stray Cat Blues – The Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1968
91. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill – The Beatles (Folk Rock) – 1968
90.  I Ain’t Superstitious – Jeff Beck (Blues) – 1968

This is a tough one because Jeff Beck is doing some amazing things here, but Rod Stewart is singing, and if history has proven anything, it’s proven that it’s okay to be racist against Rod Stewart. 

89.  Birthday – The Beatles (Rock) – 1968

Sure it’s a little poppy, but that guitar riff is great. 

88.  Julia – The Beatles (Folk) - 1968
87.  The Unknown Soldier – The Doors (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968
86.  Salt of the Earth – The Rolling Stones (Rock) - 1968
85.  I Put a Spell on You – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Rock) – 1968

It’s no Screamin’ Jay, but Creedence is a pretty good cover band when they want to be. 

84.  Sweet Thing – Van Morrison (Folk Rock) - 1968
83.  Its All Too Much – The Beatles (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

It may go on a little too long, but this George Harrison number almost doesn’t even sound like the Beatles. 

82.  I’m So Tired – The Beatles (Slow Rock) - 1968
81.  Black Magic Woman – Fleetwood Mac (Rock) – 1968

This is the original incarnation before Santana made it his.  This is another example of the original not being as good as the cover, but alas, it’s still a pretty good tune. 

80.  Gloomy – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Jam Rock) – 1968

CCR actually uses backwards guitar on this one!  It’s rare that you get “effects” from Creedence, which is actually a reason why they’re really good.  They jam the hell out of this song too. 

79.  Spanish Caravan – The Doors (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968
78.  Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing – Marvin Gaye (Rhythm & Blues) – 1968
77.  Harper Valley PTA – Jeannie C. Riley (Country) – 1968
76.  Not To Touch the Earth – The Doors (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

Yes Jim Morrison isn’t singing as well he did as recently as his previous album (it was a quick collapse), but the Doors are doing enough here to stay relevant and interesting, even if Jim proclaims to be “The Lizard King” at the end of this one. 

75.  Yer Blues – The Beatles (Blues) – 1968

It’s like listening to early John Lennon, as in John Lennon, the solo artist.  You can kind of tell the Beatles are no longer the Fab 4 on the White album. 

74.  Angel of the Morning – Merilee Rush (Pop) – 1968

Any song that’s been recorded a million times by different artists always deserves a spot.  Should I be embarrassed to love this song? 

73.  White Room – Cream (Rock) – 1968
72.  Here She Comes Now – The Velvet Underground (Rock) – 1968

If you ever get the chance to hear Kurt Cobain and the Nirvanas cover this one, I highly recommend it. 

71.  Hey Jude – The Beatles (Slow Rock) – 1968

I almost didn’t want to rank this one.  So many people have so much admiration for this song, but it’s just so repetitive and uninteresting I’ve never understood why, outside of its charting success.  Whilst listening to it, it does have some pretty good stuff going, so here we are with it, but still, it’s not the greatest song ever, nor does it deserve to be included in the greatest song ever conversation.  I know it pre-dates “Let It Be” and they’re basically the same song, but somehow “Let It Be” is much better … yeah, this song just never ends.  That’s why. 

70.  Cry Baby Cry – The Beatles (Rock) – 1968
69.  White Light/White Heat – The Velvet Underground (Rock) – 1968

Now, the VU was a little too concerned with art in between their debut album and Loaded, but every now and then they came … well, overground, and made some decent rock songs. 

68.  Lather – Jefferson Airplane (Folk Rock) – 1968
67.  Revolution  – The Beatles (Rock) – 1968
66.  Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland?) – Jimi Hendrix (Psychedelic Rock) - 1968
65.  Dear Doctor – The Rolling Stones (Alt-Country) – 1968

I hinted earlier that the Stones invented alt-country in haste.  I was wrong then.  Beggars Banquet is the first alt-country album, so I was wrong earlier when I said the Stones invented the genre.  It turns out the Rolling Stones invented it.  (Almost seems like a typo or something, doesn't it?)

64.  Sexi Sadie – The Beatles (Rock) - 1968
63.  Stir It Up – Bob Marley (Reggae) – 1968

There’s not much to it other than the reggae beat and Mr. Marley saying “Stir It Up” a zillion times in this original incarnation of the song.  Still, it is Bob Marley, a man who crossed over to white kids on the soul basis that they only thing they had in common was smoking weed. 

62.  Blackbird – The Beatles (Folk) – 1968
61.  House Burning Down – Jimi Hendrix (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968
60.  Let there Be More Light – Pink Floyd (Space Rock) – 1968

As strange as this one is, Gilmour’s influence is bringing slightly more sanity to them … slightly.

59.  Burning of the Midnight Lamp – Jimi Hendrix (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

What I love most about this one is it’s not really guitar dominant.  Sure it’s got the usual Jimi Hendrix solo, but it never seems more powerful than that harpsichord.  The Experience trying to get Jimi’s ego in check must have been interesting during this recording session.  "Wait a minute Mitch and Noel, I think the fans wanna hear me play guitar some more, like on every other track of the album!"

58.  Time Has Come Today – The Chambers Brothers (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

Ladies and gentleman … we have cowbell!!!!!

57.  Triad – The Byrds (Slow Rock) – 1968

Byrds song or Jefferson Airplane song?  David Crosby wrote it for one, and when the Byrds do it, you don’t have a creepy Grace Slick/Marty Balin thing going on. 

56.  So Long Marianne – Leonard Cohen (Folk) – 1968

It’s nice to hear a young Leonard Cohen.  He’s one of the few performers who still sounds pretty good even though he’s old, well at least in Natural Born Killers.

55.  Stephanie Says – The Velvet Underground (Slow Rock) – 1968

Here's more beautiful soft tuneage from the Velvet Underground.  Lou Reed’s got like 46 of the “Insert Lady’s Name – Says” songs.  This is the best of the bunch. 

54.  Hello, I Love You – The Doors (Rock) – 1968

I love Robbie Krieger’s fuzz pedal on this.  The rest of this is pretty much pop bubble gum fun, but that fuzz pedal … mmmmmmmm.

53.  Combination of the Two – Janis Joplin (Rock) – 1968

This was always one of my favorite Janis songs that didn’t appear on her famous Greatest Hits album.  Listening to it now though, they don’t really say anything.  It sounds like a rap concert getting ready.  They just come out on stage and tell you to get hyped basically.  That being said, the actual music rocks in this one, I just don’t like being told to “get hyped.”  It’s either going to happen or it’s not. 

52.  Fist City – Loretta Lynn (Country) – 1968

If I could control what other bands do, I’d make Peaches remake this song. 

51.  Everyday People – Sly & The Family Stone (Pop) – 1968

It’s Sly time! 

50.  Tecumseh Valley – Townes Van Sandt (Country) – 1968
49.  Mother Nature’s Son – The Beatles (Folk Rock) – 1968

This song is all Paul McCartney, which is a theme of the White album.  The Beatles were very alone. 

48.  Factory Girl – The Rolling Stones (Alt-Country) – 1968

There’s a certain class about the Stones versus pretty much everything else going on right now.  They’ve rebounded from their “experimental” days well. 

47.  On the Road Again – Canned Heat (Blues) – 1968

This is a little more exciting than your standard blues song.  Canned Heat is always one of those bands I’ve heard but never listened to.  I still don’t know how good they are or not, but this tune is pretty bad ass. 

46.  I Thank You – Sam & Dave (Funk) – 1968

Gotta love a smokin’ bass line. 

45.  Prodigal Son – The Rolling Stones (Alt-Country) – 1968
44.  Street Fighting Man – The Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1968
43.  Jackson – Johnny Cash (Country) – 1968

I love the image of June Carter singing in Folsom Prison.  She’s such a great entertainer.  She hams it all up perfectly. 

42.  Mrs. Robinson – Simon and Garfunkel (Folk Rock) – 1968
41.  Five to One – The Doors (Rock) – 1968

I’m ranking this song so high because I’ve loved it for a very long time.  Hearing it compared to other songs from this era, it sounds pretty boring and Jim’s voice is gone.  It’s still a classic though. 

40.  Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf (Hard Rock) – 1968

Between John Kay, Barry McGuire and Jim Morrison, you can tell the obnoxious douchebag lead singer is starting to take shape.  There will be plenty more of these. 

39.  Some Velvet Morning – Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

If there was ever a psychedelic country song, this would be it. 

38.  Mama Tried – Merle Haggard (Country) – 1968
37.  The Mighty Quinn – Manfred Mann (Rock) – 1968

Here’s the dilemma.  Dylan obviously wrote this one, but Manfred Mann recorded it first (by a few years), so doesn’t that make this the original? 

36.  Back in the USSR – The Beatles (Rock ‘n Roll) – 1968

What a great way to start out the White album.  I tempted to rank this higher, but …

35.  Everybody’s Talking At Me – Harry Nilsson (Folk Rock) – 1968

Here’s another I am surprised to learn is a cover.  Wah wah.  It’s still a great tune. 

34.  Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf (Hard Rock) – 1968

Some say this is the first heavy metal song ever.  I don’t know why, but there’s something pretty douchy about Steppenwolf.  I’ve never seen them interviewed or anything, but there’s an attitude about this song which prevents me from considering it to be one of the greatest ever (though it’s still a great tune). Maybe it’s the fact that it has “attitude”. 

33.  Helter Skelter – The Beatles (Hard Rock) – 1968

This is another song that wants to lay claim to being the first heavy metal song.  Though we’re not there yet, it’s strange how Paul McCartney wrote the Beatles hardest song.  He must have been REALLY pissed at John when he wrote this one. 

32.  All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix (Rock) – 1968

1968 is my first year without a Dylan song since 1961.  What’s funny is this is the second song penned by Dylan for the year, so it’s not like he fell too far. 

31.  1983 … A Merman I Should Turn to Be – Jimi Hendrix (Space Rock) – 1968

Jimi finds a nice little four song medley on what I consider his best album.  This is the glue that holds that medley together. 

30.  Think – Aretha Franklin (Rhythm & Blues) – 1968

Long before you had Rage Against the Machine shouting FREEDOM! You had Aretha. 

29.  Summertime – Janis Joplin (Slow Rock) – 1968

Here’s another song recorded by multiple artists.  Janis wins the battle. 

28.  Dear Prudence – The Beatles (Slow Rock) – 1968

John Lennon’s songwriting is as strong as ever.

27.  Crimson & Clover – Tommy James & The Shondells (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

It sounds like this song should have been done by the Velvet Underground.  Maybe they just liked VU so much or something.  Either way, great tune. 

26.  Time of the Season – The Zombies (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

Are the Zombies the first person to ask the question, “Who’s your daddy?”  Wiki says yes.  When that thought went off in my head, it was going to be a joke, but long before there were porn stars and wanna-be bad ass gangsta rappas, it was these hippies that asked the question.  How about that?

25.  While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles (Rock) – 1968

Hmm, is this song boring, or do I feel that way just because Eric Clapton is involved?  I love this song for two reasons, 1) It’s one of George Harrison’s finest moments in songwriting and 2) the organ that comes out in the background of this one makes it, despite Clapton’s great guitar playing. 

24.  Suzanne – Leonard Cohen (Folk) – 1968

This guy had quite a good 1968.  The melancholy melody is so nice. 

23.  One – Harry Nilsson (Pop) – 1968

Yes, I first heard this song while watching Magnolia.  The fact that Kevin Smith disses on P.T. Anderson in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is kind of lame.   It’s like Adam Sandler sitting in a director chair and making fun of Terry Gilliam.  I love a few Kevin Smith movies, but let’s face it, dude got lucky with Clerks and has since based every movie he’s made on that, and if he hasn’t, the movie sucked.  He’s far from a genius.  He’s just a rotund man who makes fun low-brow movies for stoners. 

22.  America – Simon and Garfunkel (Folk Rock) – 1968

This was already a great song, but its appearance in Almost Famous made it a teency bit better.  Also, “teency” isn’t in the dictionary, yet so many people say it.  I should start a movement to get “teency” in the dictionary.  That’d be something great for the tombstone. 

21.  Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud) – James Brown (Funk) – 1968

Aside from what Nina Simone has been doing, there’s not too much black pride stuff going on, especially by a major recording artist.  Not that any of that stuff really matters.  This is a pretty good tune either way. 

20.  Hey Bulldog – The Beatles (Hard Rock) – 1968

You can really hear the Beatles come together on this one, which is rare for this era.  This song has perfect changes, which I always like. 

19.  The Weight – The Band (Folk Rock) – 1968

As I’m stating the Stones invented Alt-Country in this era, I have to mention these folk songs that sided more on the “rock” side helped as well.  The only difference is the Stones have no folk influence whereas these guys were playing with Dylan. 

18.  Feelin’ Alright – Traffic (Rock) – 1968

Here’s how you know a musician (or anyone in general) is a douche.  I’m not going to name names here, but I used to tell a fellow musician that this was a Steve Winwood song (it’s a Dave Mason song), and he’d always wince and say, “I don’t know … I don’t know” and subconsciously taunt me about it.  All said person has to do is say, “No it’s not, though Winwood is part of Traffic, it’s really a Dave Mason song.”  If musicians aren’t the most pretentious people in the universe, I don’t know who is. 

17.  Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield (Rhythm & Blues) – 1968

Oh Dusty, how much you owe QT. 

16.  Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin (Rock) – 1968
15.  Glass Onion – The Beatles (Psychedelic Rock) – 1968

Even though all this song does is reference old Beatles songs, it somehow works for Lennon, though if I was a fellow Beatle, I would’ve taunted him mercilessly. 

14.  I’ve Got the Feelin – James Brown (Funk) – 1968

The band is so freegin tight on this one.  Listening to these other people playing funk music during this era, and then going back to listen to JB, you see how he’s on another playing field. 

13.  Everybody’s Got Something To Hide … - The Beatles (Hard Rock) – 1968

A remarkable thing about the Beatles is their ability to not get stale.  After Sgt. Pepper (and Magical Mystery) they could’ve easily settled in to more psychedelia, but instead went back to certain roots, and made their first attempts at pure blues and hard rock. 

12.  No Expectations – The Rolling Stones (Alt-Country) – 1968

The Stones finally become that soulful downtrodden band that I love.  Beggar’s Banquet is the first great Stones album. 

11.  Crosstown Traffic – Jimi Hendrix (Hard Rock) – 1968

The best traffic jam song of all time! 

10.  I Heard It Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye (Rhythm and Blues) – 1968

If you have a problem with Marvin Gaye, you have a problem with yourself. 

9.  Jumping Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones (Hard Rock) – 1968

Vintage Rolling Stones. 

8.  Jigsaw Puzzle – The Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1968

The Stones don’t get too much credit for being innovators, but what they’re doing on songs like this has not been done before. 

7.  Suzie Q – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Rock) – 1968

Maybe I prefer to have the shorter version, but either way, this is one of the best Creedence songs that there is … er, songs that they didn’t write but covered.  I thought this was a Creedence song until I did all these lists, so, I have to say it yet again … another instance in which the cover is better than the original. 

6.  Ball and Chain – Janis Joplin (Rhythm & Blues) – 1968

Even though it’s not hers (she wasn’t a songwriter, let’s keep it real), this is my favorite “Janis” song.  It’s true I wouldn’t love it if it weren’t for the live version in which she goes on and on about … I don’t know, being a hippie or something, but it’s that meaningless drugged out speech at the end that makes it.  Well, that and her vocal chords.  Janis has so much soul on this one. 

5.  Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash (Country) – 1968

For some reason or another, this song deserves to be considered twice.  Once when it was originally released, and now this time actually from Folsom Prison.  Hearing the prisoners cheering in the background or what not just gives it an extra element of greatness.  It’s a legendary recording, and that’s what it’s all about, no?  Don’t worry though, I won’t include live Phish or Dead performances when it’s their time. 

4.  Happiness Is A Warm Gun – The Beatles (Slow Rock) – 1968

John Lennon’s again at his best here.  I love how this song is a great sum of its parts.  Sadly, I always thought it was about Sirhan Sirhan, or written because of Robert Kennedy getting whacked, but apparently it’s more of a heroin thing.  Ugh.  At least it continues my theory that heroin music is generally very good. 

3.  Sitting On the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding (Rhythm & Blues) – 1968

I can’t say I’m a huge Otis Redding fan, but it all came together for him on this one.  This has to be in the top 10 R&B songs ever. 

2.  Sympathy For the Devil – The Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1968

I’ve been so sick of this song through the years because I’ve known it for such a long time, but it’s an incredible song, no matter how many people cover it, or how many times you hear it.   Besides, you have to love rock starting to celebrate Satan … (yes, I’m aware this song does the same thing as “Hey Jude” does, which is go on forever). 

1.  Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Jimi Hendrix (Hard Rock) – 1968

Sure the long bluesy version is almost on permanent skip status, but no matter how many times I hear this rocking version, it’s always makes me feel stronger.  I never knew the blues could be so powerful.  What’s John Lennon going to say to this?  What’s Johnny Cash going to say to this?  How quickly is Janis going to want to give Jimi a blow jay?  That's the power of Jimi Hendrix. 


  1. I hope you will take the time to listen to some more of Canned Heat's music! I think you'll find them very interesting - rooted in blues, for sure, but taken into a new dimension by lead singer Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson who was the master behind "On the Road Again".

    If you have time, please check out the new family tribute website in Alan's honor. It's at AlanWilsonCannedHeat.com. There is a video link section. You are obviously a big music fan and I think you will find Canned Heat, specifically Alan, to be worthy of attention.

    Thanks for your blog post and for remembering Canned Heat.

  2. thanks, I'll listen to them more now, that's for sure

  3. You have it wrong John Lennon is the writer and the Singer (Lead Vocalist) on "I'm So Tired", you had it as a George Harrison song, but it is not,it is a very Typical John Lennon song.