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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Top 110 Songs of 1969

Well, judging by the nine at the end of the number, it’s the last year of the 60s.  After this year, there’s no more hippies, no psychedelia and no more drugs!  Okay, so that’s not really true, but whatever free love was still left over after this year probably wasn’t accompanied by some bad drugs and diseases.  Ah, the 70s.  Whether it was the Altamont Festival, Black Sabbath, the break-up of the Beatles or Richard Nixon, something killed the 60s, and here’s what was left at the very end.  Led Zeppelin has their best year, Abbey Road is released and the Stones continue their greatness with Let It Bleed. 

110.  Down on the Corner – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Rock) – 1969

I’m probably going to be sick of this song for the rest of my life, but if there’s ever one time I want to hear it is if I’m at a hockey game and a player gets knocked unconscious.  I always find it funny when the PA music guys plays the song in that situation even though the player could be dead. 

109.  Sally Simpson – The Who (Pop Rock) – 1969

108.  Spinning Wheel – Blood, Sweat & Tears (Pop Rock) – 1969

I have to give them the “A” for effort on this one.  They really do everything they possibly can in this song. 

107.  Cotton Fields – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Rock) – 1969
106.  Moby Dick – Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock) – 1969
105.  21st Century Schizoid Man – King Crimson (Progressive Rock) – 1969

Did Kanye make this song better or worse?  I say better.  Oh math rock, how I’ll never love ye.  Seriously do bands like King Crimson bring abacuses to practice for fun and write complex algebraic equations on chalkboards in the studio?  In hopes some random janitor can solve them?  I get it, you can be on time with your fellow band mates amidst strange progressions and it’s not easy to do that, good job. 

104.  Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) – Janis Joplin (Rhythm & Blues) – 1969
103.  Rag Mama Rag – The Band (Rock ‘n Roll) – 1969

It’s strange hearing a rock ’n roll song this late in the game.  The piano is pretty bad ass on this one. 

102.  Little Things – Willie Nelson (Country) – 1969
101.  Time Is Tight – Booker T & The MGs (Instrumental) – 1969
100.  The Soft Parade – The Doors (Psychedelic Rock) – 1969

This very well may be the most pretentious song ever written.  On top of that, it’s arranged very poorly and the lyrics have nothing to do with anything, but combine all of this and I like it somehow.  I’ve known this song for too long not to rank it, no matter how ridiculous it is.  The monk bought lunch. 

99.  Oh, Darling – The Beatles (Rhythm and Blues) - 1969
98.  Who Knows Where the Time Goes – Fairport Convention (Folk Rock) – 1969

This chick/broad has pipes. 

97.  Presence of the Lord – Blind Faith (Slow Rock) - 1969
96.  Plynth (Water Down the Drain – Jeff Beck (Hard Rock) – 1969
95.  Kick out the James – MC5 (Punk) – 1969

I have to say this is the first punk song because it’s really effing obnoxious. 

94.  Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell (Folk) – 1969

Every now and then there is music that’s so soothing and Joni Mitchell is a queen of the soothing me over genre. 

93.  Dupree’s Diamond Blues – The Grateful Dead (Alt-Country) – 1969
92.  I’m Set Free – The Velvet Underground (Slow Rock) – 1969

I almost feel like I’m listening to the band Luna when I hear this one. 

91.  Round and Round (It Won’t Be Long) – Neil Young (Folk Rock) – 1969
90.  King Harvest – The Band (Rock) - 1969
89.  Candy Says – The Velvet Underground (Slow Rock) – 1969

Another “_____  Says” song!  I may have overestimated with my initial quote when I wrote up “Stephanie Says.”  So far, we’re at 2, and “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction won’t count. 

88.  Eskimo Blue Day – Jefferson Airplane (Rock) – 1969
87.  Victoria – The Kinks (Rock) – 1969
86.  Beginning to See the Light – The Velvet Underground (Rock) – 1969
85.  Maybe – Janis Joplin (Rhythm & Blues) – 1969
84.  Honky Tonk Women – The Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1969
83.  Down by the River –Neil Young (Rock) – 1969

Not too sure about this one, but ultimately it reminds me of that Chris Farley SNL sketch.  I don’t know why it needs to be so long though. 

82.  Volunteers – Jefferson Airplane (Rock) – 1969
81.  Touch Me – The Doors (Pop) – 1969

Wow, how the Doors have fallen.

80.  Christmas – The Who (Rock) – 1969

It’s hard to decide what songs separate themselves from the Tommy rock opera.  This one does that pretty well. 

79.  Lisa Says – The Velvet Underground (Slow Rock) – 1969

This makes three ladies; Stephanie, Candy and Lisa.  I wonder if there’s a hard core Lou Reed fan out there that only dates girls with these three names. 

78.  Dreams – The Allman Brothers (Jam Rock) – 1969

I love the Allman Brothers so I will probably overrate their songs a little.  This one is a little too jammy, but it’s nice hearing them.

77.  Sparks – The Who (Instrumental) - 1969
76.  Can I Change My Mind – Tyrone Davis (Rhythm & Blues) – 1969
75.  The Court of the Crimson Kings – King Crimson (Progressive Rock) – 1969

Too much psychedelia and hard rock led this genre to strange strange places.  There’s so much wonderful artistry here it’s hard not to like, but still, I do feel like I’m watching Spinal Tap (and we’re not even to Rush yet) … I mean, there’s a flute solo. 

74.  Thank You – Sly & The Family Stone (Funk) – 1969

You gotta love that slapping and popping bass. 

73.  It’s Your Thing – The Isley Brothers (Funk) – 1969
72.  Eyesight to the Blind – The Who (Rock) – 1969
71.  Good Shepherd – Jefferson Airplane (Folk Rock) – 1969
70.  Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets) – Neil Young (Folk Rock) – 1969

I’ve never been a big Neil Young guy, but he’s got some great stuff that I’ve never heard before on this Everyone Knows This is Nowhere album.  I’m impressed. 

69.  One of these Days – The Velvet Underground (Rock) – 1969
68.  We’re Not Gonna Take It – The Who (Rock) – 1969

This pretty much sums up Tommy all in one song. 

67.  Living Lovind Maid – Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock) – 1969
66.  Hot Fun In the Summertime – Sly and the Family Stone (Pop) - 1969
65.  Cissy Strut – The Meters (Funk) – 1969

All of a sudden, I feel like I’m listening to Superfly TNT.  It’s a Tampa thing!

64.  What Goes on – The Velvet Underground (Rock) – 1969

I know these guys are a hipsters wet dream and what not, but no one ever seems to state the obvious about most of their songs and that’s they go on too long with jams that don’t really jam.  I don’t care if that’s art or not, it’s what prevents them from being an elite band.  I’m pretty sure art isn’t supposed to be boring and monotonous. 

63.  Wooden Ships – Jefferson Airplane (Rock) – 1969

It was many years ago now, but this song led to one of my first ever debates solved by the internet.  I was debating who wrote the song with someone saying it was David Crosby and I was saying Jefferson Airplane.  Fact checked … and the answer is … both (Crosby, Stills and Paul Kantner).

62.  I’m Free – The Who (Rock) – 1969
61.  Badge – Cream (Rock) – 1969
60.  Country Honk – The Rolling Stones (Country) – 1969

Two versions of the same song in one year!  They’re both pretty good, but I’ll take the album version please. 

59.  We Can Be Together – Jefferson Airplane (Folk Rock) – 1969

Sounds strange, but the Airplane saying the word “motherfucker” in a song back then is a big deal.  This isn’t the MC5.  This is tolerable hippie music not a bunch of angry doucebags from Michigan. 

58.  Because – The Beatles (Psychedelic Rock) – 1969
57.  Something – The Beatles (Slow Rock) – 1969
56.  Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock) – 1969

One of the most heart breaking days of my adolescence was when I found out Zep stole all these lyrics from a Willie Dixon song called “You Need Love.”  As badass as Zeppelin is (and they’re definite top 5 bands ever), they’ve never been the same for me since. 

55.  Give it Up Turnit Loose – James Brown (Funk) – 1969

It’s okay to misspell when it’s James Brown.  Where have I heard this bass line before?  It’s not Gerardo is it?  (I’m not going to look because I don’t think I want to know). 

54.  Blackberry Way – The Move (Psychedelic Rock) – 1969

By the time 69 rolls around, psychedelia is dying so quickly, it’s amazing this song was successful. 

53.  Sin City – The Flying Burrito Bros. (Country) – 1969
52.  Cosmic Charlie – The Grateful Dead (Jam Rock) – 1969

On Aoxomoxoa, it appears as if the Dead have finally settled down and found they’re nice chillin’ rock groove. 

51.  1969 – The Stooges (Hard Rock) – 1969

Iggy Pop and David Bowie = Two Things I’ve never understood (and two people who’ve never been in my kitchen). 

50.  Well All Right – Blind Faith (Rock) – 1969

One of the most disappointing things in rock is that this super group only had one album. 

49.  Heartbreaker – Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock) – 1969
48.  Walk on By – Isaac Hayes (Rhythm & Blues) – 1969

Man that Chef is smoov.  This song may be a teency overproduced with all the strings, but when this song settles in, it’s smoother than anything I’ve heard thus far and makes me wanna … well, get down by the fire.

47.  Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles (Pop Rock) – 1969
46.  Green River – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Rock) – 1969
45.  Ramble On – Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock) – 1969

It’s funny how songs get second legs from hearing your friends play them all the time on guitar.  Sometimes you can even get over Lord of the Rings references. 

44.  Give Peace a Chance – John Lennon (Folk Rock) – 1969

It kind of picks up where Dylan left off on “Rainy Day Women.”  The song itself isn’t anything special aside from the fun rhyming of JL, but there’s still so much hope at the end of the hippie era.  It’s almost like this song is the closest we’ll ever come to people wanting peace.  It’s too bad man is nothing more than war mongering money grubbing animals.  At least we make some pretty cool cars. 

43.  Hot Burrito No. 2 – The Flying Burrito Brothers (Alt-Country) – 1969

I may have a little problem with a song title with the word Burrito in it, but this is a pretty badass tune. 

42.  Pale Blue Eyes – The Velvet Underground (Slow Rock) – 1969
41.  The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel (Folk) – 1969
40.  Proud  Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Rock) – 1969

When I think of some hippie living in a van down by the river, this is the song I always imagine them listening too.  That sentence is probably too long to use as a genre, but aside from swamp rock, it is the genre that defines Creedence the best.  Why do Creedence and Neil Young make me feel this way? 

39.  Foggy Notion – The Velvet Underground (Rock) – 1969
38.  Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock) – 1969

Jimmy Page continues to wail his way around on this album, establishing himself as the new #1 guitarist, now that Jimi Hendrix is about to die.    

37.  Don’t Let Me Down – The Beatles (Slow Rock) – 1969

“Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be” sounds like this song sure, but so do a million others, and why not?  Aside from the fact that there are barely any more lyrics to this song other than the phrase “Don’t Let Me Down”, everything else about it is perfect.  Ultimately, it’s just another great song by the Beatles. 

36.  Peaches En Regalia – Frank Zappa (Instrumental) – 1969

Before “Frankenstein” and they’re surprisingly not too much different, aside from the fact I don’t think Zappa uses a key-tar. 

35.  I Can’t Stand It – The Velvet Underground (Rock) – 1969

I love these non-art rock VU songs.  Oh, how I used to play the hell out of this one in early 2000.  On a side note, I just decided not to include Miles Davis’ “Shhh/Peaceful” on the sole basis that it’s over 19 minutes long, but that’s a jazz classic so I wanted to give it props. 

34.  Mother Popcorn, Pt 1 – James Brown (Funk) – 1969

I wonder if Phish knows they stole “Split Open and Melt’s” horn arrangement from this song. 

33.  Wild Child – The Doors (Hard Rock) – 1969

Even though Jim sounds like death trying to sing this song, the riff that carries it is so much fun.  It’s always fun when you get Jim reciting poetry in the middle of a song as well … sort of.  After all who else would ever end a song by saying, “Remember when we were in Africa?”

32.  River Man – Nick Drake (Folk) – 1969

I’m not sure if Nick Drake songs have the extra special emotional thing going on because he died tragically, or he was just really good.  Either way …

31.  Born on the Bayou – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Rock) – 1969

Swamp rock! I never really got the whole being from San Fran but making “bayou” music thing these guys do, but it’s Creedence, so what’cha, what’cha, what’cha want?   I fell in love with this song while watching Hurricane Katrina coverage on CNN. 

30.  Thank You – Led Zeppelin (Rock) - 1969
29.  Israelites – Desmond Dekker (Reggae) – 1969
28.  San Quentin – Johnny Cash (Country) – 1969

Basically, Johnny Cash is the best prison tour jetsetter in the history of music. 

27.  Your Time Is Gonna Come – Led Zeppelin (Alt-Country) – 1969

There was just no stopping Jimmy Page.  One thing I already love about Page more than Hendrix is similar to that of any band vs. Les Claypool.  When you hear Les, you know who it is right away.  It’s as if he can’t deviate from his wonderful talent.  Jimi Hendrix is similar to that, whereas Jimmy Page can do so many more things than Hendrix.  It’s just that he doesn’t hold Hendrix’s jock, that’s the only reason Hendrix is better. 

26.  Space Oddity – David Bowie (Space Rock) – 1969
25.  Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Hard Rock) – 1969

If you make a movie about the Vietnam War, you have to include this on the soundtrack.  It’s the law. 

24.  Monkey Man – The Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1969
23.  Compared to What – Les McCann (Jazz) – 1969

Their probably won’t be too many more jazz songs from here on in, but this is a nice way to go out.  This has lyrics though, and do jazz songs have lyrics?  This one does. 

22.  A Boy Named Sue – Johnny Cash (Country) – 1969

This is the last I’ll be talking about Cash for awhile.  No one ever thinks about Johnny Cash when they talk about the end of the 60s, but after ’69, he didn’t really do anything relevant again until the 90s when the hipsters decided he was cool for some random reason. 

21.  I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stooges (Punk) – 1969

They’re pretty much the only band in 1969 that came close to matching Led Zeppelin’s intensity.  This is the beginning of punk and heavy metal at the same time. 

20.  Good Times, Bad Times – Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock) – 1969

Ah, the real beginning of heavy metal.  Though this is not heavy metal, without Jimmy Page, you don’t have butt rock OR the flashy guitar solo!

19.  China Cat Sunflower – The Grateful Dead (Psychedelic Rock) – 1969
18.  Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones (Alt-Country) – 1969
17.  You Never Give Me Your Money – The Beatles (Rock) – 1969

Far and away the greatest song Paul McCartney has ever written.  Its arrangement is almost “A Day in the Life” good.  The only downside is the “1-2-3-4-5-6-7” thing.  I sure hope that wasn’t John’s idea. 

16.  Crossroads – Cream (Rock) – 1969
15.  The Thrill is Gone – B.B. King (Rhythm & Blues) – 1969
14.  I Want You Back – Jackson 5 (Pop) – 1969

This has to be the best song ever featuring a little kid on vocals … and now he’s dead. 

13.  Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You – Led Zeppelin (Rock) – 1969

This almost seems like the first progressive rock song in a way.  Thank god it doesn’t have unnecessary mathematical changes, but it has many intricate parts and lasts a long time.  The only band even close to making a song like this before 1969 was the Stones. 

12.  Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley (Rhythm & Blues) – 1969
11.  I Want You (She’s So Heavy) – The Beatles (Hard Rock) – 1969

This is probably the most underrated Beatles song.  The Beatles again re-invent themselves with Abbey Road and this very well may be the best tune on it … okay, it’s not. 

10.  Whipping Post – The Allman Brothers (Rock) – 1969

The Allman Brothers took what the San Francisco scene was doing and gave it a nice southern vibe.  Though “southern rock” isn’t a genre that’s worth exploring because the good southern bands transcend the genre, it’s great that the A-Bros made songs like this that gave more southern rockers a vibe to start their own shit.  Without this song, we never get “Freebird.”

9.  Can’t Find My Way Home – Blind Faith (Folk Rock) – 1969

It’s too bad Blind Faith only lasted one album.  They really had their moments.  It must have been impossible with all the egos though.  I will say they’re the greatest “Superband” of all time. 

8.  What Is and What Should Never Be – Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock) – 1969

No one arranges a hard rock song like Jimmy Page.  I know I get all caught up in their poor lyrics, but much like Phish, it doesn’t matter sometimes because the music is so incredible.  The moment where Page starts the chill solo is one of the best changes I’ve ever heard in my life. 

7.  You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1969

The Stones were on fire on Let It Bleed for the most part. 

6.  Come Together – The Beatles (Rock) – 1969

Here’s one of those so overrated it’s underrated songs.  When the day comes that I compile John Lennon’s Greatest Hits, this song will not only be on it, it will come close to his greatest.  There’s a reason this is the first song on Abbey Road which may be the greatest album out there. 

5.  St. Stephen – The Grateful Dead (Psychedelic Rock) – 1969

I’ve always been fascinated with bands no longer playing their best songs live because they get sick of them.  That’s what happened here and it’s tragic because this is such an incredible song.  So many of us never got to see Jerry play this live. 

4.  Pinball Wizard – The Who (Hard Rock) – 1969

This is the absolute best thing to come from Tommy.  I remember a time when I thought Pete Townsend’s guitar strumming was the coolest thing ever done on a guitar.  Obviously I no longer feel that way, but it’s still pretty awesome. 

3.  The Abbey Road Medley  – The Beatles (Rock) – 1969

What happens at the end of Abbey Road is one of the greatest things that happens in the history of music.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to break up and rank properly.  Individually the songs aren’t quite complete, but together, they’re as powerful as anything that’s ever been done.  Ultimately, props for creating album flow without making some silly rock opera. 

2.  Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1969

As bad as Zeppelin is, as powerful as Sabbath would be a year from now, this is my argument for the #1 song that killed the hippie moment.  It goes back to the Altamont concert and what not, but as far as psychedelia and hippies, it’s over, for better or for worse, and I can’t think of a more poignant note to end the 60s on.   Except for …

1.  Dazed and Confused – Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock) – 1969

Wiki tells me this is the third version of the song.  I’m not surprised Zeppelin didn’t write it as they’re lyrics have the soul of a trust funder who’s never worked a day in his life, but as my favorite Zep tune I’ve always thought it was completely theirs, I don’t know, because the writing credits are attributed to Page.  I’m sure he arranged it and what not, and that’s what makes the song, but still, never trust Led Zeppelin’s originality, just how hard they rock.  

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