Boomers come from a unique time in our cultural history, especially in terms of music. they are a generation who is extremely proud and passionate about the music they grew up with. We’ve seen how long-lasting some of these artist have been, and younger generations today still embrace much on the music of this time.
But what songs stood out among the pack? Which are the tunes that perfectly captured this unique time and the spirit of a generation? Let’s have a look back at the most definitive songs of the 60s!
Sam Cooke: “A Change Is Gonna Come”
The 60s were a time of change, and among all the political and civil rights movements to come out of it, a cultural change arose as well. Artists began writing songs about experiences and hardships rather than ones you could simply dance to. Among the very best of this kind of musical awakening came Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”. Cooke wrote the song after we and his band were turned away at a whites-only establishment and set about creating a piece that was in part a chance to speak out on the struggles of African Americans, as well as a promise that they will get past it someday. The song became an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement and was even quoted by President Barack Obama dduring his first inauguration speech.
Bob Dylan: “Like a Rolling Stone”
(Sadly, only a cover version is available through Youtube)
Dylan can easily be hailed as one of the most influential musicians of all-time and is generally seen as the main artist to introduce the folk music movement to the masses. It was a great shock then to his fans when he made a switch to electric pop/rock music which seemed to fly in the face of everything he stood for. However, this song which might have been his first sampling in that genre was unequivocally a major success. The clash of different sounds was quite new at the time and yet it kept the finger-pointing attitude Dylan was famous for. At over six minutes it changed the way pop music was perceived and became a call to other artisits to up their game.
The Beach Boys: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”
One of the groups that took up the challenge of Dylan’s new and exciting sound were The Beach Boys. They might appear to be the farthest thing from Bob Dylan at the time, but this boy band was similarly revolutionary and inspiring in what they created. While very much a group, it’s architect Brain Wilson transformed them from a surfin’ band to genuine artists who created one of the most lauded albums of all time. This tune is the perfect example of the subtle experimental sounds and precision that made their music so iconic.
Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Fortunate Son”
Much like how the period of the 60s gave birth to music of the Civil Rights, like Sam Cooke, the Vietnam War propelled the protest song into the mainstream. Well-known and respected artists were creating songs that not only captured the confused and frightened feeling at home, but also became anthems for the soldiers fighting in the Asian jungles. This song from CCR got right to the outrage of the situation as the US senators cheered the necessity of the war while sending the poorest Americans overseas to fight it.
The Stooges: “I Wanna Be Your Dog”
While not as popular as some of the other songs on this list, there is not debating that it was a telling sign of a coming change in music. While the music world was focused on the songwriter movement of telling stories through song and talking about the issues, another type of music was rearing its head; the punk movement. This song was just a hint at what was to come. It was a musical era that had extremely passionate fans, spoke to a generation and class that had never been tapped into so effectively, and was the bane of many parents lives.