1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 380 to 371
Oh, where have you been, my blue eyed son?
380. “Where Have all the Good Times Gone,” The Kinks. Songwriter: Ray Davies; Did Not Chart; 1966. At the grand age of twenty-one, Ray Davies discovered what would become his major theme as a songwriter – his position that the romanticized past was always better than the confusing present. Davies, “I remember rehearsing it and our tour manager said ‘that’s a song that a 40 year old person would write.’ I was aware of feeling older. I was aware that it’s not always going to be this good.” Author Chris O’Leary, “’Where Have All the Good Times Gone’ also doubled as a commentary on the Kinks’ current state (broke, feuding and blacklisted) and on the 1965 British pop scene, which had gone from the Liverpool docks to the Hollywood Bowl and was sifting winners from losers, with Davies predicting he was heading for the latter pile.”
379. “Funnel of Love,” Wanda Jackson. Songwriters: Charles McCoy, Kent Westbury; Did Not Chart; 1961. If there was a music genre called “voodoo rockabilly,” “Funnel of Love” would be its defining moment. On this b-side to the 1961 pop and country hit “Right or Wrong,” Roy Clark plays slinky guitar lines while Wanda growls about her romantic claustrophobia. Wanda Jackson, “It wasn’t country, it wasn’t rock, but we knew it was a good song. So, we made a good record on it.” We can also partially blame Wanda for Adele’s success, who says there’s a direct line between “Funnel of Love” and “Rolling in the Deep.” Adele, “I got addicted to this Wanda Jackson hits album. She’s so cheeky and so raunchy. She’s kind of like the female Elvis: really sexual, not afraid to embarrass herself.” Speaking of voodoo rockabilly, Jackson recorded a new version of “Funnel of Love” in 2003 with The Cramps.
378. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” The Beatles. Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney; #1 pop; 1967. Even with the obvious reference to LSD, John Lennon always maintained that “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was not about acid. Lennon, “My son (Julian) came home with a drawing of a strange-looking woman flying around. He said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote the song about it.” Lennon has stated that the lyrical images were inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Musical experimentation on “Lucy” included altering the speed of the vocals, George Harrison playing a tamboura (a traditional Indian instrument) for a drone effect, and distorting Harrison’s guitar sound by recording it through a Leslie organ speaker. Geoff Emerick, “Instead of being opinionated about everything, John Lennon was becoming complacent; in fact, he seemed quite content to have someone else do his thinking for him, even when we were working on one of his own songs. By the spring of 1967, he was becoming increasingly disengaged…No doubt Paul was aware of the situation, and he was seizing the opportunity to step in and expand his role within the band. That manifested itself down in the studio as they worked on this song, with John’s lead vocal getting less aggressive and more dreamy with each successive take.”
377. “Yes, I’m Ready,” Barbara Mason. Songwriter: Barbara Mason; #5 pop/#2 R&B; 1965. Barbara Mason’s “Yes I’m Ready” is an early example of the silky Philadelphia soul sound – future producer Kenny Gamble sings backing vocals on the record and several future members of the Philly MFSB studio band provide the instrumentation. Mason was 18 when she wrote and recorded this lyric about her eagerness to discover romance. Mason, “I was a huge Curtis Mayfield fan, and I heard a record he had produced, Major Lance’s ‘The Monkey Time’ and he sings, ‘Are you ready?’ and I just thought, there’s my record. It only took me 10 minutes to write, and then we recorded it live in one take.”
376. “The Last Time,” The Rolling Stones. Songwriters: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards; #9 pop; 1965. Keith Richards on re-writing the 1954 Staples Singers’ single “This May be the Last Time,” “We didn’t find it difficult to write pop songs, but it was VERY difficult – and I think Mick will agree – to write one for the Stones. It seemed to us it took months and months and in the end we came up with ‘The Last Time,’ which was basically re-adapting a traditional Gospel song that had been sung by the Staple Singers, but luckily the song itself goes back into the mists of time. At least we put our own stamp on it, as the Staple Singers had done, and as many other people have before and since: they’re still singing it in churches today. It gave us something to build on to create the first song that we felt we could decently present to the band to play.”
375. “Jack the Ripper,” Link Wray and His Ray Men. Songwriters: Link Wray, Mark Cooper; #64 pop; 1963. North Carolina native/Native American Link Wray had no easy path to rock stardom – he contracted tuberculosis during the Korean War and lost a lung before finding fame. Musician/author Cub Koda on Link Wray’s impact on popular music, “Quite simply, Link Wray invented the power chord, the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarists.” Wray had his biggest chart success with 1958’s “Rumble,” described by Bob Dylan as “the best instrumental ever.” By the time he released “Jack the Ripper,” he no longer had a label and was selling records out of the trunk of his car. It was the public’s loss, not hearing this brilliant combination of power chords, distortion, and surf guitar licks.
374. “Bright Lights, Big City,” Jimmy Reed. Songwriter: Jimmy Reed; #58 pop/#3 R&B; 1961. The path of Jimmy Reed’s life included a Mississippi childhood, serving in the Navy, working in an Indiana meat plant, and becoming an R&B star with his slow paced blues shuffles before battling alcoholism and epilepsy. Reed scored ten Top Ten R&B hits with his 1954 single “You Don’t Have to Go” being the first and “Bright Lights, Big City” being the last. Reed cautions his woman about her poor choices on “Bright Lights, Big City,” a lyrical setup for an “I told you so” showdown. Mama Reed, Jimmy’s wife, sings in the background, while Jimmy works the top octave of his harmonica for the instrumental break. Reed’s shuffle based material easily translated to country music. Sonny James, who topped the pop charts in 1957 with “Young Love,” had a #1 country hit with his cover version of “Bright Lights, Big City” in 1971.
373. “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” Dionne Warwick. Songwriters: Burt Bacharach, Hal David; #8 pop/#6 R&B; 1963. Burt Bacharach on the dramatic tension in Dionne Warwick’s breakthrough single, “It’s very rich, it’s very emotional. It’s soft, it’s loud, it’s explosive. It changes time signature constantly, 4/4 to 5/4, and 7/8 bar at the end of the song on the turnaround. It wasn’t intentional, it was all just natural. That’s the way I felt it.” Meanwhile, perfectionist Hal David struggled with having the lyrical emphasis on the preposition “of” in the opening verse. David, “I tried to find a way to make the ‘you’ do something and I could never do it. I had to let it go.”
372. “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” Bob Dylan. Songwriter: Bob Dylan; Did Not Chart; 1963. Bob Dylan emerged as a major new artist on his 1963 album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” and was viewed as an important voice in the civil rights movement due to his songs “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Masters of War.” “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” a seven minute folk tale about a son who witnesses a series of soul crushing tragedies, was often categorized as an anti-war/post nuclear destruction cautionary tale. Dylan, “It’s not atomic rain, it’s just a hard rain. It isn’t the fallout rain. I mean some sort of end that’s just gotta happen. In the last verse, when I say, ‘the pellets of poison are flooding the waters,’ that means all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers.” Folksinger Dave Van Ronk, “I was acutely aware that it represented the beginning of an artistic revolution.” Allen Ginsberg, “I heard ‘Hard Rain’ – I think – and wept, because it seemed that the torch had been past to another generation, from earlier Bohemian or Beat illumination and self-empowerment.”
371. “Shake Your Hips,” Slim Harpo. Songwriter: James Moore (Slim Harpo); Did Not Chart; 1966. Bo Diddley released a funky b-side in 1955 titled “Bring It to Jerome,” a song written by his maracas player Jerome Green, who also “sings” on the record. Slim Harpo sped up the tempo of that number for the blues dance number “Shake Your Hips.” Harpo’s song was covered by The Rolling Stones on their “Exile on Main Street” album and was also reshaped as “La Grange” by ZZ Top. Author Chris Charlesworth, “Jagger’s Slim Harpo impression was real enough to conjure up images of one of those weird Southern boys propping up a bar in Memphis. Thankfully, no eye contact was required here.” Harpo passed away in 1970, missing the opportunity to see his legacy grow. Lovell Moore, his widow, “What meant more to me (than his music) was him being a good husband and father to my children. He worked construction. He hauled sugar cane. He bought a truck; he’d haul scrap iron, he worked at a service station. Anything to make an honest living. The only thing I regret is he didn’t live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor.”