Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Best Songs of the Summer of Love

This is an impossible task. As you know, I can easily identify the great songs of the 90s; why? Because the 90s sucked. Indeed some of rock's greatest LPs come out of that 90s Me Generation (Kid A, Weezer's eponymous first LP), yet, for the most part, bleeech (to quote Alfred E. Newman). But '67, omg, where to begin? Don’t write me with your complaints or omissions; they are all valid – your list is as good as mine, probably better, but here it is, nonetheless:

5. The Beatles - "A Day in the Life"
All of the elements of the Summer of Love (festivals, LSD, mustaches) would probably still have happened if Sgt. Pepper never existed -- but they would have been a lot less inspired. Released in June 1967,  this was the first LP I ever bought. It’s a tribute to sonic aesthetics inspiring dozens of imitators changed the course (alongside Pet Sounds) of studio recording. "A Day in the Life" was the trippy, bi-polar mini-opera that closed the album, exhausting listeners with mind-bending lyrics and a backwards orchestra swirl that left one’s brain feeling as though it had been boiled in lemonade. Check out as well, the fabulous Wes Montgomery cover, with the equally outrageous jacket.

4. The Hollies - "Carrie Anne"
Supposedly written about Mick Jagger's girlfriend and future art-punk icon Marianne Faithfull, this song embodies the link between Mod-cool and radio-friendly commercialism. Despite a somewhat misogynistic final verse by Graham Nash, "Carrie Anne" sits in a great tradition of young men writing quixotic odes to the women they long to touch -- yet ultimately must resign their desires to the more famous, better looking popstars.

3. Pink Floyd - "Arnold Layne"
Aside from music and drugs, few things defined the Summer of Love quite like fashion. Lou Reed wrote about his shiny boots of leather, Bob Dylan sung about a leopard-skin pillbox hat, and Pink Floyd immortalized a transvestite who got his kicks snatching ladies’ undergarments off clotheslines. Enjoy!

2. The Doors – "Light My Fire" (Check out the "Light My Fire" post)

1. Jefferson Airplane - "White Rabbit"

Every experience needs a soundtrack, whether it's losing your virginity, getting into a fight, or having a transcendent moment on the dancefloor. More than dancing, fucking or fighting, though, the activity that the flower children most required a soundtrack to was the epic trek of the psychedelic mind-scramble. Lyrically influenced by Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and sonically influenced by Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain, "White Rabbit" perfectly encapsulated the tick-tick-TICK roller coaster ascent of the LSD experience, blending an aural beauty and anxiety with a narration that gives the listener the sense that he/she is on the path somewhere, but not necessarily a place you're ready to visit.