The Top 10 Songs In The ’60s That Shaped Rock N’ Roll
via Bob Dylan/YouTube
Rock ‘n roll exploded in the ’60s because several bands and solo artists brought it to mainstream audience. It was the decade when this particular genre was perfected thanks in part to technology but more so because of experimentations and well, sheer creativity and genius.
1960s spawned a plethora of musical gems that transcended time and generation. They became the template by which most songs today were patterned after. Their influence and impact cannot be stated enough because they didn’t just shape rock but music in general. And with the help of Woodstock 1969 and Monterey Pop Festival, more and more people became enamored with rock ‘n roll.
Here are ten songs that helped shape it.
10. Cream – “Sunshine of Your Love” (1967)
Cream had a short-lived career as a group but with their four albums, they gave us a rich legacy in music that remains unrivaled. “Sunshine of Your Love” fused pop, psychedelia, and hard rock and not surprisingly, this was inspired by Jimi Hendrix.
“He [Hendrix] played this gig that was blinding. I don’t think Jack [Bruce] had really taken him in before … and when he did see it that night, after the gig he went home and came up with the riff. It was strictly a dedication to Jimi. And then we wrote a song on top of it.” – Eric Clapton
9. The Doors – “Light My Fire” (1967)
One of The Doors’ most enduring yet controversial songs, when guitarist Robby Krieger asked frontman Jim Morrison what to write, the latter replied:
“Something universal, which won’t disappear two years from now. Something that people can interpret themselves.”
And thus, this masterpiece was born.
8. Bob Dylan – “Like A Rolling Stone” (1965)
The lyrics are pretty direct and brutal. Nevertheless, critics and fans were in agreement that this is Dylan’s best song. And just how much of a gem this song is? Dylan’s handwritten lyrics was auctioned off for $2M in 2014.
7. The Who – “My Generation” (1965)
Aside from helping shape rock ‘n roll. the Grammy Hall of Fame also inducted this song for its “historical, artistic and significant” value. Pete Townshend wrote this while on a train ride during his 20th birthday. He said:
“‘My Generation’ was very much about trying to find a place in society. I was very, very lost. The band was young then. It was believed that its career would be incredibly brief.”
6. The Kinks – “You Really Got Me” (1964)
When they dropped this song, they immediately became household names. And more than the song itself, it also features one of the most easily recognizable riffs in rock.
5. Led Zeppelin – “Whole Lotta Love” (1969)
Members of Led Zeppelin are rock titans. With their innovations, talent, and creativity, they became influential figures in rock. And that song’s bluesy feel, they set the bar high for every other rock ‘n roll band.
4. Rolling Stones – “Sympathy for the Devil” (1968)
Ever heard of samba rock? Mick Jagger explained:
“Songs can metamorphasize, and ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ is one of those songs that started off like one thing, I wrote it one way and then we started the change the rhythm. And then it became completely different. And then it got very exciting. It started off as a folk song and then became a samba. A good song can become anything. It’s got lots of historical references and lots of poetry.”
3. Jimi Hendrix – “All Along the Watchtower” (1968)
Originally recorded by Bob Dylan, Hendrix took the song and made it his own. It’s the cover version to end all other cover versions. Even Dylan was blown away.
“I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”
2. The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations” (1966)
When The Beach Boys started working on this song, did they know it was going to make history? That it would be deemed as one of the most important works in rock ‘n roll? Brian Wilson became obsessed with perfecting it that their production costs ballooned to $50,000 thus making the most expensive song recorded at the time. But it was well worth all that in the end, no?
1. The Beatles – “A Day in the Life” (1967)
We can come up with an entire list of Beatles songs that helped shape rock ‘n roll because they released one revolutionary album after another. “A Day in the Life” is an absolute game-changer and it was way ahead of its time. Musically and structurally, it was unlike anything anyone heard of before.