1968: 20 Songs Released in 1968 You Must Hear

My rules:

  • 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

A shitload of great music was released in 1968, here are my 20 chosen songs.

  • Madame George – Van Morrison

    [vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_color=”mulled_wine” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-quote-left”]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.
    -Lester Bangs[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]

    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

  • Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones

    [vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_color=”mulled_wine” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-quote-left”]Originally written as a Dylan-esque folk song, it rolls forward like a storm front, driven by a menacing samba-funk groove from Watts and African percussionist Rocky Dijon and piano and bass (played by Richards), with a wicked guitar solo midway through. The unrepentant whoo-whoo backing vocals were sung by a crowd that included Watts, Jones (who would be dead in a year) and his ex-girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, who was keeping company with Richards.
    -100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs (rollingstone.com)[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]

    Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Sung by Jagger, the song is an ironic homage to the Devil, written in the first-person narrative from his point of view, recounting atrocities committed throughout the history of humanity. It is performed in a rock arrangement with a samba rhythm. It first appeared as the opening track on their 1968 album Beggars BanquetRolling Stone magazine placed it at number 32 in its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

    Please allow me to introduce myself
    I’m a man of wealth and taste
    I’ve been around for a long, long year
    Stole many a man’s soul to waste

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  • Hey Jude – The Beatles

    [vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_color=”mulled_wine” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-quote-left”] ..pseudo-soul shrieking in the fade-out may be a blemish ….. a pop/rock hybrid drawing on the best of both idioms”.’Hey Jude’ strikes a universal note, touching on an archetypal moment in male sexual psychology with a gentle wisdom one might properly call inspired.
    -Ian MacDonald (Revolution in the Head)

    one of [McCartney’s] masterpieces.
    -John Lennon

    A song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The ballad evolved from “Hey Jules”, a song McCartney wrote to comfort John Lennon’s son, Julian, during his parents’ divorce. “Hey Jude” begins with a verse-bridge structure incorporating McCartney’s vocal performance and piano accompaniment; further instrumentation is added as the song progresses. After the fourth verse, the song shifts to a fade-out coda that lasts for more than four minutes.

    “Hey Jude” was released in August 1968 as the first single from the Beatles’ record label Apple Records. More than seven minutes in length, it was at the time the longest single ever to top the British charts. It also spent nine weeks at number one in the United States, the longest for any Beatles single. “Hey Jude” tied the “all-time” record, at the time, for the longest run at the top of the US charts. The single has sold approximately eight million copies and is frequently included on professional critics’ lists of the greatest songs of all time. In 2013, Billboard named it the 10th biggest song of all time.

    Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
    Take a sad song and make it better
    Remember to let her into your heart
    Then you can start to make it better

    Could not find the original on youtube, but here is BeatlesVEVO live version:

    ..and Spotify remastered version:

  • Sittin´ on (The Dock of the Bay) – Otis Redding

    A song co-written by soul singer Otis Redding and guitarist Steve Cropper. It was recorded by Redding twice in 1967, including once just days before his death in a plane crash. The song was released on Stax Records‘ Volt label in 1968, becoming the first posthumous single to top the charts in the US. It reached number 3 on the UK Singles Chart.

    Redding started writing the lyrics to the song in August 1967, while sitting on a rented houseboat in Sausalito, California. He completed the song with the help of Cropper, who was a Stax producer and the guitarist for Booker T. & the M.G.’s.

    Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
    I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
    Watching the ships roll in
    And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah

  • All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix Experience

    The Jimi Hendrix Experience began to record their version of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” on January 21, 1968, at Olympic Studios in London. After some remixing andoverdubbing a final version was released as a single in the US on September 21, 1968, almost a month prior to the album release on Electric Ladyland in October. The single reached number five in the British charts, becoming the first UK stereo-only single to do so, and number 20 on the Billboard chart, Hendrix’s highest ranking American single.

    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

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  • I Heard it Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye

    [vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_color=”mulled_wine” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-quote-left”]”I Heard It Through the Grapevine” isn’t a plea to save a love affair; it’s Marvin Gaye’s essay on salvaging the human spirit. The record distills four hundred years of paranoia and talking drum gossip into three minutes and fifteen seconds of anguished soul-searching. The proof’s as readily accessible as your next unexpected encounter on the radio with the fretful, self-absorbed vocal that makes the record a lost continent of music and emotion.
    -Dave Marsh (The Heart of Rock and Soul)[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]

    A song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966.

    Marvin Gaye´s version was placed on his 1968 album In the Groove, where it gained the attention of radio disc jockeys, and Motown founder Berry Gordy finally agreed to its release as a single in October 1968, when it went to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969 and became for a time the biggest hit single on the Motown label (Tamla).

    The Gaye recording has since become an acclaimed soul classic, and in 2004, it was placed on the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. On the commemorative fiftieth anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine in June 2008, Marvin Gaye’s “Grapevine” was ranked sixty-fifth. It was also inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant” value.

    I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew
    ‘Bout your plans to make me blue
    With some other guy you knew before
    Between the two of us guys
    You know I loved you more
    It took me by surprise I must say
    When I found out yesterday
    Don’t you know that I heard it through the grapevine

  • If I Can Dream – Elvis Presley

    A song made famous by Elvis Presley, written by Walter Earl Brown and notable for its direct quotations of Martin Luther King, Jr. The song was published by Elvis Presley’s music publishing company Gladys Music, Inc. It was recorded by Presley in June 1968, two months after King’s assassination. The recording was first released to the public as the finale of Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special.

    Although the song is not technically gospel music, Presley performed the song with the intensity and intonations of southern gospel. It has since appeared on various Presley gospel and/or inspirational compilations.

    There must be lights burning brighter somewhere
    Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue
    If I can dream of a better land
    Where all my brothers walk hand in hand
    Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true
    oh why

  • The Weight – The Band

    A song originally by the Canadian-American group The Band that was released as Capitol Records single in 1968 and on the group’s debut album Music from Big Pink. Written by Band member Robbie Robertson, the song is about a visitor’s experiences in a town mentioned in the lyric’s first line as Nazareth. “The Weight” has significantly influenced American popular music, having been listed as #41 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time published in 2004. Pitchfork Media named it the 13th best song of the Sixties, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named it one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. PBS, which broadcast performances of the song in “Ramble at the Ryman” (2011), “Austin City Limits” (2012), and “Quick Hits” (2012), describes it as “a masterpiece of Biblical allusions, enigmatic lines and iconic characters” and notes its enduring popularity as “an essential part of the American songbook.”

    I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling ’bout half past dead
    I just need some place where I can lay my head
    Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed?
    He just grinned and shook my hand, “No” was all he said.

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  • The World Keep On Turning – Fleetwood Mac

    Included on Fleetwood Mac, also known as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, the debut studio album by British blues rock band Fleetwood Mac, released on 24 February 1968. The album is a mixture of blues covers and originals penned by guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, who also share the vocal duties.

    An absolutely AWESOME blues song.

    Don’t look for no worries, worries and troubles come around
    Yes, I don’t look for no worries, people, worries and troubles come around
    The world keep on turning, I got to keep my feet on the ground

    Brilliant live video:

    Spotify – album version:

  • Waiting ‘Round to Die – Townes Van Zandt

    A folk/country song written and recorded by Texas singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt. One of Van Zandt’s more famous songs, “Waiting Around to Die” chronicles the life of a fictional drifter as he passes sadly through the experiences of an abusive father, the abandonment of his mother, drug and alcohol abuse, fast women, and even prison. The song appeared first on Van Zandt’s debut album, For the Sake of the Song, in 1968, and later on his 1969 release Townes Van Zandt. Several live albums, notably Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas also feature the song.

    Sometimes I don’t know where
    This dirty road is taking me
    Sometimes I can’t even see the reason why
    I guess I keep a-gamblin’
    Lots of booze and lots of ramblin’
    It’s easier than just waitin’ around to die

  • I Say a Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin

    Released on Aretha Now the fifteenth studio album by Aretha Franklin, on June 14, 1968 by Atlantic Records.

    The moment I wake up
    Before I put on my makeup
    I say a little pray for you
    While combing my hair now
    And wondering what dress to wear now
    I say a little prayer for you

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  • What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me) – Jerry Lee Lewis

    From his wonderful Another Place, Another Time released in 1968 on Smash Records. It was Lewis’s “comeback album” and features a stripped down, “hardcore” country sound that yielded two top 5 country hits, the icon’s first major chart success in a decade.

    It’s late and she’s waiting
    And I know I should go home
    But every time I start to leave
    They play another song
    Then someone buys another round
    And wherever drinks are free
    What’s made Milwaukee famous
    Has made a fool out of me

  • The Village Green Preservation Society – The Kinks

    Released on The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society their sixth studio album, released in November 1968. It was the last album by original quartet, as bassist Pete Quaife left the group in early 1969. A collection of vignettes of English life, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society was assembled from songs written and recorded over the previous two years.

    We are the Village Green Preservation Society
    God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety
    We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
    God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties
    Preserving the old ways from being abused
    Protecting the new ways for me and for you
    What more can we do

  • Mama Tried – Merle Haggard

    A song written and recorded by American country music artist Merle Haggard. It was released in July 1968 as the first single and title track from the album Mama Tried. The song became one of the cornerstone songs of his career. It won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, and was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its “cultural, historic, or artistic significance” on March 23, 2016, just 14 days before Haggard’s death.

    The first thing I remember knowing,
    Was a lonesome whistle blowing,
    And a young un’s dream of growing up to ride,
    On a freight train leaving town,
    Not knowing where I’m bound,
    And no one could change my mind but Mama tried
    One and only rebel child,
    From a family, meek and mild,
    My Mama seemed to know what lay in store
    Despite my Sunday learning,
    Towards the bad, I kept turning
    ‘Til Mama couldn’t hold me anymore

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  • I´d Rather Go Blind – Etta James

    A blues song written by Ellington Jordan and co-credited to Billy Foster. It was first recorded by Etta James in 1967, released August 21, 1968 on the album “Tell Mama” , and has subsequently become regarded as a blues and soul classic.

    Something told me it was over
    When I saw you and her talking,
    Something deep down in my soul said, “cry girl”´,
    When I saw you and that girl, walking out.

  • Magic Bus – The Who

    A song written by Pete Townshend during the time that My Generation was being recorded in 1965. However, it was not recorded by The Who until 1968 and released in the UK on 18 September 1968. It has become one of the band’s most popular songs and has been a concert staple, although when released, the record only reached number 26 in the United Kingdom and number 25 in the United States.

    The song’s arrangement uses a Latin percussion instrument known as claves. These are pairs of small wooden sticks that make a distinctive high pitched clicking noise when struck together.

    The song makes use of the Bo Diddley beat.

    Every day I get in the queue (Too much, Magic Bus)
    To get on the bus that takes me to you (Too much, Magic Bus)
    I’m so nervous, I just sit and smile (Too much, Magic Bus)
    You house is only another mile (Too much, Magic Bus)

  • Everyday People – Sly and the Family Stone

    A 1968 song by Sly and the Family Stone. It was the first single by the band to go to number one on the Soul singles chart and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. As with most of Sly & the Family Stone’s songs, Sly Stone was credited as the sole songwriter.

    Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
    My own beliefs are in my song
    The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
    Makes no difference what group I’m in

    I am everyday people, yeah yeah

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  • Harper Valley P.T.A – Jeannie C.Riley

     A country song written by Tom T. Hall that was a major international hit single for country singer Jeannie C. Riley in 1968. Riley’s record sold over six million copies as a single. The song made Riley the first woman to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and the U.S. Hot Country Singles charts with the same song, a feat that would go unrepeated until Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” in 1981.

    I wanna tell you all a story ’bout a Harper Valley widowed wife,
    Who had a teenage daughter who attended Harper Valley Junior High,
    Well her daughter came home one afternoon and didn’t even stop to play,
    And she said.”Mom I got a note here from the Harper Valley PTA”

  • You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere – The Byrds

    A song written by Bob Dylan in 1967 in Woodstock, New York, during the self-imposed exile from public appearances that followed his July 29, 1966 motorcycle accident.
    The Byrds also recorded a version of the song in 1968 and issued it as a single. The Byrds’ version is notable for being the first commercial release of the song, predating Dylan’s first release by three years.

    Clouds so swift
    Rain won’t lift
    Gate won’t close
    Railings froze
    Get your mind of wintertime
    You ain’t goin’ nowhere

  • America – Simon & Garfunkel

    A song performed by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel, which they released from their fourth studio album, Bookends, in 1968. Produced by the duo and Roy Halee, the song was later issued as a single in 1972 to promote the release of Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits.

    The song was written and composed by Paul Simon, and concerns young lovers hitchhiking their way across the United States, in search of “America,” in both a literal and figurative sense. It was inspired by a 1964 road trip that Simon took with his then girlfriend Kathy Chitty. The song has been regarded as one of Simon’s strongest songwriting efforts and one of the duo’s best songs. A 2014 Rolling Stone reader’s poll ranked it the group’s fourth best song.

    Let us be lovers,
    We’ll marry our fortunes together.
    I’ve got some real estate
    Here in my bag.

    So we bought a pack of cigarettes,
    And Mrs. Wagner’s pies,
    And walked off
    To look for America.

These came close:

  • Ain’t Got No, I Got Life – Nina Simone
  • Born to be wild – Steppenwolf
  • Lovechild – The Supremes
  • Stand by your man – Tammy Wynette
  • Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud – James Brown
  • In the Good Old Days(When Times Were Bad) – Dolly Parton
  • Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell
  • I wish it would rain – The Temptations
  • Milwaukee, Here I Come / George Jones and Brenda Carter
  • 2+2=? – Bob Seger
  • Mighty Quinn (Quinn the eskimo) – Manfred Man
  • Daddy Sang Bass – Johnny Cash
  • Wrap it Up – Sam & Dave
  • Friends – The Beach Boys

Spotify Playlist:


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