When it comes to musical repertoire, the hip and happening '60s and '70s gave us a cool playlist. What was on your playlist back then, Baby Boomer? Can you recall?
The 1960s was a decade filled with many evolutions and revolutions. The world was still recovering from the throes of another World War in the late '40s when the '50s hit us with news of the Korean War. And when that one wrapped up, the Vietnam War came up, which lasted all throughout the '60s and half of the '70s. How did the world react to such changes?
Well, one way it reacted was with the birth of the counterculture movement. The events of decades prior propelled some people to rebel against the concept of war. The concept of "make love, not war" was uttered all around, and people wanted more changes to happen.
All these things were reflected in the music industry. We heard how the varying tunes of the '30s, '40s and '50s paved the way for an intersectional '60s sound, as evident in R&B, doo-wop, and the Motown hits. The jumping jives segued into more dance fads that came and went. Rock 'n' roll was there to stay, all right, but it also evolved into various permutations that led to the development of newer sounds, such as funk and heavy metal.
Indeed, pop music became a way to bring people's sentiments out into the open. Great songs spoke of these changes, these evolutions and of course the revolutions. Some of these hits became anthems of a generation—and these anthems continue to resonate with newer generations that came after the Boomers.
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The Rolling Stones hit it big for the first time in America with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Released in 1965, it was one of the songs that played with double meanings by using sexually suggestive wordings. For this reason, the song didn't get airtime on commercial radio stations at first.
One of the most popular singer-songwriters of the Baby Boomer era, Neil Diamond, was the composer of the 1966 hit song "I'm A Believer." The song was a hit for the Monkees, an American band that got propelled into stardom by their television show.
The official start of the so-called British Invasion, music-wise, began in 1963 with the release of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in the U.S. The 1963 chart-topper opened the door to America for the Beatles, and eventually to the rest of the world.
The Motown sound was an undeniable force in the music industry of the '60s. One of the greatest hits to come out of that label is Marvin Gaye's 1968 hit "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Rolling Stone magazine included the song in their list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."
"It's Now or Never" is the 1960 Elvis Presley hit he recorded for RCA. If the rhythm of this song sounds familiar to Europeans and followers of traditional music, that's because it was based on a traditional Italian song called "O Sole Mio," which was composed in the late 1800s.
Classic-film lovers who are not into older music that much might encounter "The Sound of Silence" in Mike Nichols' 1967 film "The Graduate." However, this Simon & Garfunkel song first hit it big during 1965.
The prolific British band Queen came out with "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 1975, which was included in their album "A Night at the Opera." The song clocks in at five minutes and 55 seconds long, defying traditional song lengths of that era.
If you watch Netflix's "Riverdale," you may have caught Josie and the Pussycats perform a hipper version of "Sugar Sugar" during the first season. This hit song was originally performed by the Archies, the virtual band from the '60s animated series "The Archie Show."
Don McLean wrote many great songs, but he is best identified with the huge 1971 hit "American Pie." He wrote that classic line in reference to an infamous event in 1959 when great rock 'n' rollers died on a plane crash. Included in that tragedy were Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.
The Swedish singing group called ABBA further enhanced their international musical influence with the popularity of "Dancing Queen." The 1976 song was a chart-topper in many countries, including the U.S. The song is their contribution to the global disco playlist of the '70s.
Thanks to Chubby Checker's 1960 hit song of the same name, we now have "The Twist" dance move. This is done by turning one's hips continuously, but the feet somewhat stay on the same spot. The shoulders can also move in sync with the twisting hip motion.
Soul music was very much alive and kicking back in the '60s, and one of the most memorable hits of that genre was "My Girl." Performed by the Temptations, this 1964 Motown hit was composed by Smokey Robinson, the leader of the Miracles, and his band mate, Ronald White.
The 1970s started to usher in the adult-contemporary genre classification of music, and 1971's hit "Rainy Days and Mondays" exemplified the characteristics of the genre. The popular song was performed by the brother-sister tandem called the Carpenters, one of the biggest musical acts of that decade.
Both the Baby Boomers and the Gen Xers have enjoyed two versions of the hit called "Killing Me Softly with His Song." Boomers loved the slow, melodic version by Roberta Flack back in 1973. Gen Xers danced to the hiphop version by the Fugees in 1996, with the shortened title "Killing Me Softly."
Many dancing folks of the '70s obviously loved disco, since they made disco tunes very popular during that time. One of those dance classics was the Bee Gees' hit "Stayin' Alive," which reached number one in the U.S. and in other countries as well.
"Tapestry" is one of the popular adult-contemporary albums to come out the '70s, and it's filled with many of Carole King's greatest hits. One of them is "It's Too Late," a Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper. It's also included in Act 2 of the stage musical called "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical."
John and Michelle Phillips, the married couple of the Mamas and the Papas, wrote "California' Dreamin'," but it was performed by another singer at first. Their own band's rendition of the song became a hit for them in 1965.
The Four Tops sang "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," which became a hit in 1965. This song contributed to giving the Motown label its distinct sound back in the '60s. This trademark sound is evident in the Four Tops' intersected rhythms of soul, R&B, jazz and doo-wop influences.
During the Baby Boomer era, some songs that didn't become hits get remade later on; in some instances, these remakes are the ones that become hits. The Troggs' "Wild Thing" is an example of this practice, as it became a hit in 1966. It was first released by the Wild Ones in 1965.
The Righteous Brothers' 1965 hit "Unchained Melody" was reintroduced to the Gen X crowd in 1990 when it was used in a famous film. That film is the iconic "Ghost," starring the late Patrick Swayze and the short-cropped Demi Moore. It was played during the famous "pottery seduction" scene.
The 1961 inspirational soul song "Stand By Me" became a huge hit for Ben E. King. Young Gen Xers coming of age in the '80s may have encountered it for the first time while watching "Stand By Me," the 1986 film starring teenagers River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell.
"Hit The Road Jack" may have been a huge hit for Ray Charles back in 1961, but the female voice heard on the song is sometimes not acknowledged when mentioning this tune. That female contribution came from Margie Hendrix, the lead vocalist of Charles' back-up girl group called the Raelettes.
The Supremes released many superb songs while they were signed to Motown. One of their hits is the 1965 song "Stop! In the Name of Love." Their other hits include "Baby Love," "Where Did Our Love Go," "Come See About Me," "You Keep Me Hanging On" and "You Can't Hurry Love," to name a few.
If you saw Oliver Stone's 1991 biopic "The Doors," there was a scene there where the band was being censored prior to performing "Light My Fire" on television. This 1967 hit had the controversial ambiguous line "girl, we couldn't get much higher," which TV execs thought encouraged drug use.
Earth, Wind & Fire helped define the danceable funk sound of the '70s with songs like the 1978 hit "September." They also sang other hit tracks such as "Boogie Wonderland" and "Fantasy." They continued this vibe into the '80s with hit songs like "Let's Groove."
Steppenwolf sang one of the counterculture movement's most famous songs entitled "Born to be Wild." This 1968 song became a big hit during that era, more so when it was included in the soundtrack of the 1969 counterculture movie called "Easy Rider" made by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.
Another Baby Boomer hit that also resonated with Generation Xers is "My Sharona." The Knack's 1979 hit pop song was included in the "Reality Bites" soundtrack. In that 1994 film, the characters of Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn danced to the song while inside a convenience store.
The 1978 hit song "I Will Survive" earned Gloria Gaynor a certified platinum award, which means the record sold one million units. To this day, the song is heavily played in dance club circuits around the world. It also became a "gay anthem," meaning it's a popular song within the LGBT community.
The Grammy Awards gave the Eagles the Record of the Year award in 1978 for their hit song called "Hotel California." The song was released in 1977, the same year they released another hit song called "Life in the Fast Lane."
A diminutive Michael Jackson led his brothers in singing their 1970 hit song called "I'll Be There." The Jackson 5 recorded this soul ditty under Motown Records. Mariah Carey did a cover version of the song in 1992 for her MTV Unplugged performance; that version became one of her biggest hits.
When Eric Clapton was still with the band Derek and the Dominos, he and band mate Jim Gordon wrote "Layla." This 1971 song got rebooted by Clapton himself when he performed it in his 1992 MTV Unplugged appearance.
Elton John's longtime creative collaborator, Bernie Taupin, wrote the lyrics for his hit single called "Tiny Dancer." It was released in 1972, the same year he released his other hit called "Rocket Man." "Rocketman" is also the title of the 2019 Elton John biopic starring Taron Egerton.
"Lean on Me" is yet another song that both Baby Boomers and Generation Xers enjoyed. The original version by Bill Withers became a Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit in 1972. The song reached that same spot in that same tally in 1987, but as a danceable track covered by Club Nouveau.
A folk-rock favorite of the '70s was "Cat's in the Cradle," the 1974 hit song by Harry Chapin. A rock-ballad version of this song became popular in the '90s when Ugly Kid Joe released their version of it in 1993.
Frank Sinatra's singing daughter Nancy is known for her 1965 hit song titled "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." Other singers covered this song, too, such as Billy Ray Cyrus in 1992, the Spice Girls' Geri Halliwell in 2000 and Jessica Simpson in 2005, to name a few.