Showing posts with label 60 Years of Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 60 Years of Music. Show all posts

Monday, March 11, 2024

60 Years of Music • February-March, 1964 • The Times They Are A-Changin'

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin'
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'
3rd Verse, The Times They Are A-Changin' –Bob Dylan


It's been too hard living
But I'm afraid to die
'Cause I don't know what's up there
Beyond the sky
It's been a long
A long time coming, but I know
A change gon' come
Oh yes, it will
3rd verse, A Change is Gonna Come –Sam Cooke


History has a way of circling back. Just when we think we have left behind-
  • fascism back in the 1930 and 40's;
  • disability and death by viruses back in the 50's;
  • racial hate back in the 60's;
  • Roe vs Wade back in the 70's;
  • evangelicals working to destroy the separation of church and state back in the 80's;
  • a cad, running again for President without a moral center, like another cad President back in the 90's;
  • and, authoritarians bombing and invading their neighbors land, like well... forever.
I can go on, but you get the point. America probably has always been two-steps forward, and one-step back. Now the one-steppers back, want to take it all the way back to the mythical 1950's, where power and control would be restored to a white majority culture.

Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' has always been one of my favorite Bob Dylan albums. The lead song is one of the greatest songs of all-time. The entire album is a somber protest as the artist's lyrics are pure poetry raising social consciousness through the medium of folk music. In recent years, I have been enraptured by Dylan's early years, especially concert footage and audio capturing the passion of his voice delivering the song to a hushed audience taking in every word and verse.

Two other songs are to me even more outstanding. First, With God on Our Side, an anti-war song written by such a young man about America having the Christian moral high ground over other countries. It smacks directly at millions of Americans upbringing, and surely mine, brought down to the level that the Little League's team prayer was somehow going to translate into a winning score.

The next is, Only a Pawn in their Game. Dylan sings truth to power about America in his pure clarity of racism and political manipulation of the powerful to the isolated, poor, and uneducated. The song is as relevant today, maybe substitute a George Floyd-like killing mixed with our current political divide, and we surely can dust off this song for a fresh listen.

Sam Cooke recorded his last album, Ain't That Good News released in February 1964, as he would be tragically shot dead in December by a hotel clerk in a bizarre set of circumstances involving a woman who he had taken to a hotel in Los Angeles.

Ain't That Good News is a wonderful mix of fun songs with the very serious, A Change is gonna Come which would come to be the enduring anthem of the 1960's civil rights movement. The song's first verse-

I was born by the river
In a little tent
Oh, and just like the river, I've been running
Ever since

simply opens you up to his experience, an experience where hate and hard times were some day going to be better, because the alternative could not be tolerated any longer. The theme of "we're not ever going back to that again," is a people's determination and history lesson all in a song. 

I never realized that The Times They Are A-Changin' and A Change is gonna Come, would be released only eight days from each other in February, 1964. Sixty years later, they came together for me and this little blog. In fact, this past week of listening to music in this time period helped shape for me three themes about popular music of that time.

Think of the first six songs here as two-set themes of the early 1960's in music.
  1. The Times They Are A-Changin' and A Change is gonna Come, represent social change and the emergence of the "protest song" or statement songs with a clear message about our society.

  2. Glad All Over (The Dave Clark Five), and Fun, Fun, Fun (The Beach Boys), represent fun simple rock 'n' roll love songs. (The Beach Boys also needed to start putting teens in cars because only so many people could geographically get to the beach.)

  3. Anyone Who Had a Heart (matching Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick), and The Girl From Ipanema (matching American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto, featuring the vocals of Astrud Gilberto.) These two songs represent the transition from 50's popular standards songs mostly sung by males, to 60's pop songs influenced by R&B, soul, jazz, rock 'n' roll, women singers, and even world culture like the bossa nova.
Like last week's blog, musically the culture is saying, "goodbye" to the previous decade, and "hello" to a new order. Enjoy the playlist my friends!

References and Resources

1964 in music
- Wikipedia. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

Ain't That Good News (album)
- Wikipedia. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

Sam Cooke - Wikipedia. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

The Times They Are a-Changin' (Bob Dylan album) - Wikipedia. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

Tolsen,. Billboard Hot 100™. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

Monday, December 11, 2023

My Favorite Songs of 1963

60 Years of Music. 1963 is the year before the rock 'n' roll "British Invasion" and "Beatlemania" coming to America. However, The Beach Boys have already established their own Los Angeles beachhead and Bob Dylan emerges on the folk scene in New York City as both take the country by storm. We're at the dawn of the monster years of rock 'n' roll and my generation is ready for the ride, even if many of us are not quite old enough to know it yet. 

These are the years where artists and bands were often required by their record companies to put out two albums a year plus be on a regular schedule to produce hit singles for the Billboard charts. In 1963, The Beatles and Beach Boys each put out two albums and a series of singles that will influence a whole new generation of kids playing musical instruments. The musical output will be astonishing, enough so that for me making 60 years of music playlists in the months and years ahead will be child's play. 

So, strap on those metal roller skates and turn on the transistor radios as the boomer generation will take on the establishment and put the suits, haters, and bible thumpers on notice, let's get the counter-culture party started!

1963 in Music and World Events (from Wikipedia)

Notable Bands Formed in 1963
  • The Kinks
  • Manfred Mann
  • Bob Marley and the Wailers
  • The Spencer Davis Group
  • Neil Young & The Squires
  • The Yardbirds

Enjoy the 1963 Playlist my friends!

Monday, November 20, 2023

With the Beatles and JFK • November 22, 1963

Friday, November 22, 1963. I was an 8 year-old in third grade at Robert Bruce Elementary when our teacher told the class that our President, John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed. 

My searing memory of that day is that I had not cried like our teacher and many of my classmates. I remember getting home and immediately heading towards the bathroom. I closed and locked the door, put the toilet seat lid down and sat on it, bent over and put my hands to my face, and cried. 

I'm shedding a tear now as I write this, 60 years later as if it were yesterday. It is my first historical day as an American citizen and the anguish never goes away. Anyone who was old enough knows this day, in their heart and soul. We all share a similar story of where we were on the day Camelot died.

This past week, I watched National Geographic's three-part documentary,  JFK: One Day in America. It's also streaming on Disney+ and Hulu, so you can plan for this sobering sit down. I highly recommend this documentary on the 60th anniversary of that day that has been a yearly reminder to me since it happens to always be just before Thanksgiving. I don't remember Thanksgiving in 1963, but it was just six days later after the President had been killed. I'm sure the Thanksgiving prayer around the dinner table that year was a tearful hand-holding extended affair for most families.

Now as an 8 year-old I had no idea that another event happened on that same day, the release of The Beatles second album, With the Beatles. That in itself is not significant compared to the assassination of JFK, but just three months later, The Beatles would come to America on February 7, 1964. On February 9th, The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time and gave a reeling nation a release of pure joy, and a spark to the healing process. 

The timing of these two juxtaposed events kicks off my experience of the 1960's. It makes me think of Pete Seeger's song taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes and made famous by The Byrds in 1965, Turn, Turn, Turn.

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

A time to kill, a time to heal. Assassination and Vietnam, baseball and rock 'n' roll. The Beatles had come to America and love was going to win over hate.

Enjoy the lad's second album, and their hit single, I Want to Hold Your Hand, released November 29, 1963, with the B-Side, I Saw Her Standing There.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends.

Monday, March 27, 2023

60 Years of Music • The Beach Boys, Surfin' USA • Released March 25, 1963

Avila Beach Pier and town. Notice the red rectangle?
Music is all about association. In March of 1963, I turned 8 years old. This post is about my childhood in the 1960's and the associations I have with California beach culture growing up on the central coast. For me, Avila Beach and the Beach Boys are joined as sand is to the surf.

Left of the pier, sunning by the wall.
I picked the panoramic photo above because it best helps tell this little story. I want you to picture this scene if you drove into Avila Beach with your family in the 1960's, parked the station wagon, and walked to the beach. As you approach, the right side beach at the pier was the family side, and the left side was more of the teenager's side. If you look how I've blocked off the rising road and embankment wall in the red rectangle, that particular section was where all the high school and possibly Cal Poly college students laid out their beach towels and sunned themselves in all their beach blanket bikini glory. As a child and adolescent, I walked that section many times, not only on the beach, but walking up on the sidewalk and looking down the embankment, if you get my drift. Oh my wannabe self, to be one of the guys with my Gordon and Smith surfboard resting against the embankment wall while I was talking with the girls... Hello cowgirl in the sand.

Now to the right of the pier (the family side), that's where my parents would set up. When you were really little you played in the sand, on the slide or took a spin on the merry-go-round. It was so cool, that they had all that right there in the sand for the kids to play.

A vintage "Surf Mat"

When we got a little older, we would rent the inflatable canvas blue and yellow rafts for 50 cents a hour under the pier and ride the waves in the pre-Boogieboard days (see the photo on the left I found on the Internet called, "surf mats"). Typically Avila waves are not a left or right break at all. On bigger days (3-5 ft.) the swell would develop and just slam straight down. A great ride was being in the wave and when it slammed, the industrial strength rental raft just bounced and you held on for dear life and rode that buckin' bronco in a wave of white foam. A bad ride was usually catching it a little too early on top and going over the cliff of the wave to be body slammed. Now as an 8-9 year old, if you did that in the shallower water, you'd get slammed into the sand. By 10 years old, you were a pro, and if you were going to get slammed, it would be on bigger waves in deeper water, or what everybody called, "the washing machine."

It was so fun. You would spend about a hour in the water, and the water was not like Southern California that warmed up in the summer. The water in Northern and Central Coast beaches are cold. You would see kids come out of the water shivering and their skin would be blush red. I remember, running from the surf with my raft to my beach towel cooking on the sand. I would dive into that big beach towel as my shivering would turn to roasting, and then running back into the surf to repeat the whole cycle. I was stoked.

Now back in those days, you could be 10 years old, and your mom gives you money for a burger or treat and you go to the beach strip of shops, all by yourself! I remember this like it's yesterday. The smell of burgers cooking on the grill, teens drinking cokes, kids eating cotton candy all covered in sand, and The Beach Boys playing through a shop's rusted outdoor cone speaker system. I can't say that Surfin' USA was playing in that most vivid moment of my memory, but let's just say it was.

The Wilson brothers (Brian, Carl and Dennis), cousin Mike, and neighbor David Marks had tapped into the early sixties beach culture and surfer music. Sixty years later, why would anyone ever want to leave that scene, you gremmies. 

Enjoy my friends.


Here are some common surfing terms from the 1960s:
  1. Beach Bum: Someone who spends most of their time at the beach, usually a surfer.
  2. Cowabunga: The surfer's cry "Cowabunga" as they climb a 12 foot wall of water and "take the drop."
  3. Ditching: Skipping school to go surfing.
  4. Gremmie: A beginner surfer.
  5. Gun: A long surfboard used for riding big waves.
  6. Hang Ten: A term used to describe a surfer's ability to ride a wave with both feet at the front of the board, toes over the edge.
  7. Hotdogging: Showing off one's surfing skills, often involving radical maneuvers and tricks.
  8. Kook: A surfer who is inexperienced or lacks skill.
  9. Nose Riding: Riding the front of the board while balancing on the nose.
  10. Soul Surfer: A surfer who embodies the spirit and culture of surfing.
  11. Stoked: A feeling of excitement or happiness.
  12. Tubed: To successfully ride inside a wave's hollow barrel.
  13. Wipeout: Falling off the board while surfing.

Avila Beach today, minus the oil storage tanks on the bluffs, and that's another story.