1969 was another great year in music, here are my 20 chosen songs (and those who came close).
Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
One of the greatest rock songs from any artist, “Gimme Shelter” is a glowering, snarling beast of a recording. It tiptoes in on one of music’s most recognizable chord-based riffs, ghostly “oooh’s,” and percussion ratcheting up the tension. When the full band enters—sinister low piano notes, fuzzy harmonica, organ chimes—it grabs you by the lapels and shakes you, begging you for shelter from an ominous storm.
-Bill Janovitz (Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones)
It first appeared as the opening track on the band’s 1969 album Let It Bleed. Greil Marcus, writing in Rolling Stone magazine at the time of its release, said of it, “The Stones have never done anything better.”
The recording features Richards playing in his new open tuning on electric guitar. The recording also features vocals by Merry Clayton, recorded at a last-minute late-night recording session during the mixing phase, arranged by her friend and record producer Jack Nitzsche.Lisa Fischer was later recruited to perform the song during their concerts.
– Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
A shitload of great music was released in 1968, here are my 20 chosen songs.
Madame George – Van Morrison
Madame George is the album’s whirlpool. Possibly one of the most compassionate pieces of music ever made, it asks us, no, arranges that we see the plight of what I’ll be brutal and call a lovelorn drag queen with such intense empathy that when the singer hurts him, we do too.
A song from the album Astral Weeks, released in 1968. It was recorded during the first Astral Weeks session that took place on September 25, 1968 at Century Sound Studios in New York City with Lewis Merenstein as producer.
In 1974, after he had recorded eight albums, Morrison told Ritchie Yorke when he asked him what he considered his finest single track and the one that he enjoyed the most that it was: “Definitely ‘Madame George’, definitely. I’m just starting to realize it more and more. It just seems to get at you… it just lays right in there, that whole track. The vocals and the instruments and the whole thing. I like that one.”
– Down on Cyprus Avenue
With a childlike vision leaping into view
Clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe
Ford and Fitzroy, Madame George
Marching with the soldier boy behind
He’s much older now with hat on drinking wine
And that smell of sweet perfume comes drifting through
The cool night air like Shalimar
A lot of wonderful music was released in 1967, here are my 20 chosen songs.
All Along the Watchtower – Bob Dylan
Written and recorded by Bob Dylan. The song initially appeared on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding, and it has been included on most of Dylan’s subsequent greatest hits compilations. Since the late 1970s, he has performed it in concert more than any of his other songs. Different versions appear on four of Dylan’s live albums.
– There must be some kind of way outta here Said the joker to the thief There’s too much confusion I can’t get no relief
Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa (June 11).
Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin Resolution after North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly attack US destroyers (Aug. 7).
Khrushchev is deposed; Kosygin becomes premier and Brezhnev becomes first secretary of the Communist Party (October).
China detonates its first atomic bomb.
Three civil rights workers—Schwerner, Goodman, and Cheney—murdered in Mississippi (June).
President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy issues Warren Report concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Only one song per artist/group
The song must be released that specific year
Songs from live albums not allowed
Restricted to only 20 songs
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll – Bob Dylan
A topical song written by the American musician Bob Dylan. Recorded on October 23, 1963, the song was released on Dylan’s 1964 album, The Times They Are a-Changin’ and gives a generally factual account of the killing of a 51-year-old barmaid, Hattie Carroll, by William Devereux “Billy” Zantzinger.
– William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger At a Baltimore hotel society gath’rin’ And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him As they rode him in custody down to the station And booked William Zanzinger for first-degree murder But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears Take the rag away from your face Now ain’t the time for your tears