The Music of 1968

Dave from A Sound Day (check out the other posts on Dave’s “Turntable Talk”) posted this on November 5, 2022. He wanted a group of us to write about what we thought was the best year in music…I ended up picking the turbulent year of 1968.

When I think of the best year of music …for me it’s between 7 years. I would pick 1965 through 1971. I cannot pick all so here it goes…I pick 1968. It had some of the greatest albums and singles ever.

It was a turbulent year, to say the least. We lost two proponents of peace—Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. Other events include the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive, riots in Washington, DC, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and heightened social unrest over the Vietnam War, values, and race.

The music was also toughened up by moving away from psychedelic music. The social climate and The Band’s album Music from Big Pink had a lot of influence on this. You still had psychedelic music released but overall, music was more stripped down to the basics.

My favorite album of all time was released by The Beatles. My favorite album by The Rolling Stones was released that year as well. Let’s look at the albums released in 1968…it’s outstanding.

The Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album)

The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet

The Kinks – Are the Village Green Preservation Society

The Band – Music From Big Pink

Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland

Cream – Wheel Of Fire

The Byrds – Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Big Brother and Holding Company – Cheap Thrills

Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison

The Zombies – Odyssey and Oracle

The Grateful Dead – Anthem of the Sun

Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul

Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends

Traffic – Traffic

That list could be on my desert island list… those albums are still being played today. I’ve only scratched the surface of the albums that year.

The Holy Trinity of Rock all released music that year… which would be The Beatles, The Who, and The Stones. I can’t imagine living in the era when these bands were in their prime and roamed the earth. The Who didn’t release an album, but they did release some singles and were gearing up for the following year. Let’s look at some of the singles of that year.

The Beatles – Hey Jude/Revolution

The Beatles – Lady Madonna

The Who – Magic Bus

The Rolling Stones – Jumping Jack Flash

Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild

The Doors – Hello, I Love You

The Rascals – People Got To Be Free

Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love

Otis Redding – The Dock of the Bay

The Supremes – Love Child

The Chamber Brothers – Time Has Come Today

Janis Joplin – Piece of My Heart

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Suzie Q

Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends

The year featured the debut album of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Brian Jones made his final album with the Rolling Stones and it was the start of their great 5 album stretch. The Who started to record the album that would break them worldwide with Tommy. Dock of the Bay would be released posthumously after Otis Redding died in a plane crash on December 10, 1967. The Grateful Dead would release their second album Anthem of the Sun and continue to build one of the largest fan bases ever. Jimi Hendrix was breaking barriers with his experimentation in the studio as well as live.

The Band would change the game by releasing Music From Big Pink. It influenced nearly everyone at the time to go back to a rootsy kind of music. Fleetwood Mac would release their debut album this year. Jeff Beck would release his legendary album Truth.

FM radio was getting huge at this time and showed that audiences didn’t have to have top 40 hits to buy albums. Take Van Morrison for instance. Astral Weeks didn’t have a “hit” on the album but continued to be played and sell. The Beatles  The White Album is as diverse as you can get… Pop, Rock, Country, Folk, Reggae, Avant-Gard, Blues, Hard Rock, and some 20’s British Music Hall thrown in for good measure. No singles were released from this album or Sgt Pepper the previous year. They treated singles and albums as two different things. Hey Jude and the hit version of Revolution was recorded during the White Album but yet they left those two off. The Stones would do the same and leave off Jumpin’ Jack Flash from  Beggars Banquet.

1968 set the stage for the coming decade’s rock music. Bands like The Who, Beatles, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin didn’t need hit singles. You bought the album now and listened to the music in the context of that format. There were still pop/rock singles but the albums were gaining traction.

To wrap it up…I think any of the years between 1965-1971 could have a strong argument for my tastes. If you are into disco or synth music…not as much.

Aretha Franklin – Respect

Otis Redding (the writer of the song): “This girl has taken that song from me. Ain’t no longer my song. From now on, it belongs to her.”

Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin are my two top female singers of all time. When they are singing a song…there is no question about who it is.

Otis Redding wrote this and originally recorded it in 1965, with his version peaking at #35 on the Billboard 100 and #5 on the R&B Charts.

It was Aretha’s idea to cover this song. She came up with the arrangement, added the “sock it to me” lines, and played piano on the track. Her sister Carolyn, who sang backup on the album, also helped work up the song. It was different than Redding’s version. His version consisted of only verses. Aretha borrowed King Curtis’s sax solo from Sam and Dave’s When Something is Wrong With My Baby and used that for the bridge.

Franklin’s version is certainly the best-known version but the song was important in Otis’s career also. It helped establish Redding on mainstream radio. Otis also performed the song at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967…this was a defining performance for the singer, who died in a plane crash six months later.

Aretha recorded this in New York City with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. This was one of their first and most famous recordings. They went on to work with Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, and The Staple Singers. It was produced by the legendary producer Jerry Wexler and engineered by Tom Dowd.

Another fun fact…the “ree, ree, ree, ree…” refrain is a nod to Franklin’s nickname, Ree (as in A-Ree-tha). The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard 100, #3 in Canada, and #10 in the UK in 1967.

Respect earned Franklin two Grammy Awards in 1968 for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording and Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female. Franklin’s “Respect” was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2002, the Library of Congress added Franklin’s version of the song to the National Recording Registry.

Tom Dowd: “I walked out into the studio and said, ‘What’s the next song?’ Aretha starts singing it to me, I said, ‘I know that song, I made it with Otis Redding like three years ago.’ The first time I recorded ‘Respect,’ was on the Otis Blue album, and she picked up on it. She and Carolyn were the ones who conceived of it coming from the woman’s point of view instead of the man’s point of view, and when it came to the middle, Carolyn said, ‘Take care, TCB.’ Aretha jumped on it and that was how we did ‘Respect.'”

Otis Redding: “That’s one of my favorite songs because it has a better groove than any of my records. It says something, too: ‘What you want, baby, you got it; what you need, baby, you got it; all I’m asking for is a little respect when I come home.’ The song lines are great. The band track is beautiful. It took me a whole day to write it and about twenty minutes to arrange it. We cut it once and that was it. Everybody wants respect, you know.”

Aretha Franklin: “Everyone wants to be respected.”

Respect

What you want (ho) baby I got it
What you need (ho) you know I got it
(Ho) all I’m asking (ho) is for a little respect
When you come home (just a little bit)
Hey baby (just little bit)
When you get home (just a little Bit) mister (just a little bit)

I ain’t gonna do you wrong while you’re gone
I ain’t gonna do you wrong ’cause I don’t wanna
All I’m asking is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Baby (just a little bit)
When you get home (just a little bit) yeah (just a little bit)

I’m about to give you all my money
And all I’m asking in return honey
Is to give me my propers when you get home (just a, just a, just a, just a)
Yeah, baby when you get home (just a little bit)
Yeah (just a little bit)

Ho your kisses (ho) sweeter than honey (ho) and guess what (ho) so is my money (ho)
All I want you to do for me is give it to me when you get home (re, re, re, re, re, respect)
Yeah baby whip it to me (just a little bit)
When you get home now (just a little bit)

R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take care, T-C-B oh (Sock it to me)

A little respect oh yeah (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)
I get tired (just a little bit)
Keep on tryin’ (just a little bit)
You’re runnin’ out of fools (just a little bit)
And I ain’t lyin’ (just a little bit)
(Re, re, re, re) ‘spect
When you come home (re, re, re ,re)
Or you might walk in (respect, just a little bit)
And find out I’m gone (just a little bit)
I got to have (just a little bit)

Aretha Franklin – Think

Aretha equals greatness. I always think of the Blues Brothers movie this was featured in years after it was released. Franklin wrote this with Teddy White, who was her husband and manager. In the song, Aretha sings about freedom and respect for women.

The song peaked at #7 in the Billboard 100 and #26 in the UK in 1968.

When I’m asked who my favorite female singers are…Aretha always comes up. Her soul had soul. She could take a mediocre song and make it great. I’ve heard her do songs such as “You Light Up My Life” and put life and soul in them.

From Songfacts

Jerry Wexler, who worked with Franklin on many of her hit songs, produced this track at the Atlantic Records recording studios in New York. Members of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section played at the session.

This song was released on May 2, 1968, less than a month after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. Franklin’s family was close to King, and Aretha attended his funeral. The song’s insistant refrain of “freedom” evoked one of King’s famous quotes: “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.”

Franklin performed this in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. The Blues Brothers themselves also recorded the song, which was released as the B-side of their 1989 UK single “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.”

This was Franklin’s sixth #1 single on the R&B chart.

Leading up to the 2018 midterm elections in America, Levi’s used this in a commercial encouraging people to vote. The spot mostly used the “freedom” part of the song.

Think

You better think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me
Think (think, think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

Let’s go back, let’s go back
Let’s go way on, way back when
I didn’t even know you
You couldn’t have been too much more than ten (just a child)
I ain’t no psychiatrist, I ain’t no doctor with degrees
But, it don’t take too much high IQ’s
To see what you’re doing to me

You better think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

Oh, freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom)
Oh, freedom, yeah, freedom
Freedom (freedom), oh oh freedom (freedom)
Freedom, oh freedom

Hey, think about it, think about it

There ain’t nothing you could ask
I could answer you but I won’t (I won’t)
But I was gonna change, but I’m not
If you keep doing things I don’t

You better think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me
Think (think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

People walking around everyday
Playing games, taking scores
Trying to make other people lose their minds
Ah, be careful you don’t lose yours, oh

Think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me, ooh
Think (think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

You need me (need me)
And I need you (don’t you know)
Without eachother there ain’t nothing people can do, oh

Think about it, baby (What are you trying to do me)
Yeah, oh baby, think about it now, yeah
(Think about, forgiveness, dream about forgiveness)
To the ball, forgiveness
Think about it baby
To the ball, forgiveness
To the ball, forgiveness

My Favorite Singers

There are so many singers that I cannot possibly list them all. I could make a top 30 and not get them all. This is my personal favorite top 10 plus some extra.

For the most part, I like singers with soul and meaning to their singing…not vocal gymnastics.

1…Aretha Franklin – Aretha could make any song better by singing it.

Related image

2…Van Morrison, Them and Solo  – Probably my favorite male singer.

Related image

3…John Lennon, Beatles – John hated his voice and always wanted an effect on it…It didn’t need it…one of his best performances was “A Day In The Life”

Related image

4…Bob Dylan – Bob changed popular singing.  I would rather hear Bob sing than many of the great traditional singers.

Image result for bob dylan 65

5…Elvis Presley – Hey he’s Elvis…

Related image

6…Otis Redding – Just a fantastic singer and performer and just taking off before he was killed in a plane crash.

Related image

7…Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones – Mick makes the most out of his voice.

Related image

8…John Fogerty…CCR – If I could have the voice of anyone…it would be Fogerty. The power that John has is incredible…his voice is its own instrument.

Related image

9…Janis Joplin – She put everything she had in each song. Her last producer Paul A. Rothchild was teaching Janis how to hold back and sing more traditional to save her voice for old age…which never came.

Related image

10…Johnny Cash – Last but far from least.  Only one man can sound like Cash…and that is Cash

Related image

Honorable Mention…any of these could have easily been on the list.

Steve Marriott, Paul McCartney, Levon Helm, Bessie Smith, Little Richard, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Elton John, Neil Young, Roy Orbison, Smokey Robinson, Sam Cooke, Joe Cocker, Billie Holiday, Freddie Mercury, Kate Bush, Ella Fitzgerald, Paul Rodgers, David Bowie.

 

 

 

 

Aretha Franklin – Baby I Love You

The world lost a voice that cannot be replaced. She was the real deal and no one else had such a soulful voice.

This Aretha Franklin song was released in 1967 and it was on the “Aretha Arrives” album. It peaked at #4 on the US Billboard Charts.

This woman could sing the phonebook and I would listen. This is just one of many songs I like from her… She has sold over 75 million records in her career. This is the first song I remember hearing from her.

“Baby, I Love You”

If you want my lovin’
If you really do
don’t be afraid baby
Just ask me
You know I’m gonna give it to you
Oh and I do declare
I want to see you with it
Stretch out your arms little boy,
You’re gonna get it
Cause I love you
ain’t no doubt about it
Baby I love you,
I love you, I love you
I love you, baby I love youIf you feel you want to kiss me
Go right ahead I don’t mind
All you got to do is
Snap your fingers and I’ll come running
I ain’t lying, I ain’t lying
I heard you once little boy
You know you got it
I’d deny my own self
Before I see you without it
I love you
Ain’t no doubt about it
Baby I love you, I love you, I love you
I love you, baby I love youSomeday you might want to run away
And leave me sittin’ here cryin’
But if it’s all the same to you baby
I’m gonna stop you from sayin’ goodbye
Baby I love you
Baby I need ya
Said I want ya
Got to have you baby
Don’t let your neighbors
Tell you I don’t want you