Sunday, October 06, 2013
Music Sunday: The "Year Before 1969" Edition
It occurs to me that a lot gets said and written about 1969 and the music it produced. It was a landmark year, after all, with Woodstock and Altamont, and all the hoopla that surrounded those events. But what about the year before? How was 1968, musically speaking?
Well, Led Zeppelin performed in public for the first time, as The New Yardbirds (just two months after The Yardbirds had disbanded). Calling themselves The New Yardbirds made some sense, as Jimmy Page had played with The Yardbirds. Other bands starting up during the year included Yes, Rush, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath (as Earth). Cream disbanded, and so did the Buffalo Springfield. Before Cream broke up, the band played a farewell performance at Royal Albert Hall, the last time Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker performed together until 1993, when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Here is "White Room", from Cream's farewell concert. I'm not sure what the narration at the beginning of the clip is about:
And this is the band's performance of "Sunshine of Your Love" from the Rock and Roll Induction ceremony in 1993:
While not an immediate break-up, The Monkees ended the run of their television series, for which the band had been created in 1966. The show ran for 58 episodes. I've written here before about my belief that, especially once allowed to record their own music and have some creative input into what they were doing, The Monkees weren't really that bad a band. The movie they made, also in 1968, was not nearly as well-received as their TV series, but the band soldiered on, with some defections (Peter Tork left in 1969 and Michael Nesmith left in 1970) until 1971. There were reunions later on, of course, but very rarely did all four members of the band get back together for very long at a time.
The songs that were popular in 1968 ran a wide range of genres and styles. The biggest song of the year was The Beatles' "Hey Jude", and "Lady Madonna was also a big hit for the band that year as a single, although it did not make it onto one of their albums until 1970. "Lady Madonna" was the last Beatles' single released on the Parlophone label, with all subsequent recording coming out on the Beatles' own Apple Records:
And then there was this, "I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)", by a band called The First Edition. It's hard to tell whether this song was advocating for better living through chemicals or warning against that way of life, but it's an interesting song of its time. And, yes, that is Kenny Rogers singing lead:
From the film "The Graduate", Simon and Garfunkel had a hit in 1968 with "Mrs. Robinson". Here is a live performance of the song from that year:
"The Weight" one of The Band's best-known songs, also was released in 1968. This performance is from their appearance at Woodstock in 1969:
Of course, there was music in 1968 that protested the involvement of the United States in Vietnam. One of the best of those was this song, "Sky Pilot", by Eric Burdon and the Animals:
So, there's a little taste of the music of 1968. As always, I encourage you to go find more on your own, because there is never enough time or room here to share everything I would like to share.