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.

Chambers Brothers – Time Has Come Today

I’ve always liked this song. I will admit I never heard the song until 1988 on a great tv series called “Almost Grown” that starred Tim Daly… that of course was canceled midway through the first season. It’s a psychedelic rock/soul song. There are four versions…one in 1966 and two trippier versions in 1968..different in length only…and the album version…I prefer the album version (11:06). Any song that uses the word…I guess it’s a word…”psychedelicized” has got my support.

This song has worked extremely well in films and on television as a soundtrack of the sixties. It’s powerful and punchy and doesn’t let up.

It was released in 1968 and peaked at #11 on the Billboard 100 and #9 in Canada. After listening to it I want to wear tie-dye and protest something…anything. The Chambers Brothers were from Mississippi and started out as a gospel act. They wrote this song after relocating to Los Angeles, where they rented a two-story house.

It was written by two of the four Chambers brothers, Joe and Willie. Joe wrote most of the lyrics after sitting in on a class at UCLA with Timothy Leary and taking LSD. Willie put the music together and contributed the line, “My soul has been psychedelicized.”

Below is the “brilliance” of record executives…in this case Clive Davis. Davis tried to forbid them to record the song. The following is Willie Chambers telling the story (its a bit long but important):

“After we signed with Columbia Records, there was a big party with all the food and booze and all this stuff. All the important people were there and we got to meet all of the head hogs and Clive was there. He was there for a couple of hours and he says, ‘Well, I must be going, I have other appointments.’ He immediately leans back in the door, ‘Oh, by the way, that song ‘Time Has Come Today’ that you guys do, we won’t be doing that. We won’t do that kind of s–t on this label.’ 

That was it, and he walks away. I looked at my brothers, and we were looking at each other like, ‘What the heck?’ And our producer [David Rubinson], he was in tears now – he was crying. He says, ‘I’ve waited my whole life to record this song, now he’s going to tell us we can’t record it. Why?’

A couple of days went by and our producer came by and said, ‘I don’t give a s–t what he says, we’re going to record that song. When we get our recording date, you guys show up an hour early, we’re going to go in the studio, we’re going to turn on the tape, we’re going to play it live, we’re going to do it like a live performance. We’re going to record it and whatever we get we’re going to have to live with it. We can’t play back, we can’t overdub, we can’t splice, we can’t fix something if there’s a mistake, we’re just going to have to live with it.’ He says, ‘I’m probably going to lose my job, but that’s how important it is to me to record this song.’ 

Later on, Joe and I went to Columbia Records to have a pow-wow with Mr. Davis to have him explain to us just why he thought we shouldn’t record this song. We didn’t have an appointment with him, we just showed up. We were six-feet-four tall, angry black guys. So, we walk in to the receptionist and we say, ‘We need to speak to Mr. Davis.’

So, we kind of forced our way into his office and we said to him, ‘Why can’t we record this song?’ He says, ‘It’s not the kind of music that black guys produce or play.’

Clive says, ‘You’re four black guys, you’re going to be sending up that stream into the world, ‘Time Has Come Today.’ It’s too profound of a statement for four black guys to be saying to the world.’

That was his reason. He says, ‘We’ll get a white artist to record the song, it’s not your kind of music.’ My brother Joe says, ‘What do you mean it’s not our kind of music? We wrote this.’

So, after having that conversation with him, we were ready to do whatever the producer said. We were going to record it anyway.

When we got our moment, we went in the studio and did it in one take. ‘Time Has Come Today’ was done in one take. There was no listening back – we couldn’t listen back. When we came to the end of it, we had no idea where it was going to go. Once we ended it, we shut down the machines and then we left the studio and came back at the time we were supposed to. 

Clive Davis didn’t find out about it until it had been mixed, prepped and released. When he found out, he fired everybody he could. He fired our producer, I think he fired the guy that opened the door for us. He fired everybody that got involved with recording that song.”

The Ramones did a great cover of this song.

Time Has Come Today

Time has come today
Young hearts can go their way
Can’t put it off another day
I don’t care what others say
They say we don’t listen anyway
Time has come today
(Hey)

Oh
The rules have changed today (Hey)
I have no place to stay (Hey)
I’m thinking about the subway (Hey)
My love has flown away (Hey)
My tears have come and gone (Hey)
Oh my Lord, I have to roam (Hey)
I have no home (Hey)
I have no home (Hey)

Now the time has come (Time)
There’s no place to run (Time)
I might get burned up by the sun (Time)
But I had my fun (Time)
I’ve been loved and put aside (Time)
I’ve been crushed by the tumbling tide (Time)
And my soul has been psychedelicized (Time)

(Time)
Now the time has come (Time)
There are things to realize (Time)
Time has come today (Time)
Time has come today (Time)

Time [x11]

Oh
Now the time has come (Time)
There’s no place to run (Time)
I might get burned up by the sun (Time)
But I had my fun (Time)
I’ve been loved and put aside (Time)
I’ve been crushed by tumbling tide (Time)
And my soul has been psychedelicized (Time)

(Time)
Now the time has come (Time)
There are things to realize (Time)
Time has come today (Time)
Time has come today (Time)

Time [x4]
Yeah