Hop on a 13-minute journey through the history of rock and roll. Starting with the classic rock of the Who in 1965, you’ll hear hard rock, psychedelia, roots rock, Southern rock, funk, punk, new wave, a quick nod to disco, eighties pop, grunge, indie rock, and beyond….
- one song a year
- the song has to sound like its year
- each band just once
I made this video to commemorate my 47th birthday. I can’t wait to update it in three years to feature 50 years of great rock and roll. I’ll need some reason to look forward to turning 50.
1965 — My Generation — The Who
During the year of my birth, rock really got rolling with this song. Released as a single and on the album My Generation in 1965, it reached #2 in the UK. The BBC at first refused to play the song because it didn’t want to offend stutterers, and it has one of the earliest bass solos in rock (Wikipedia). Check out the video of the Who performing the song on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967) with Townsend destroying his guitar at the end.
1966 — Ramblin’ on My Mind — John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers
This song features the sweet sounds of a young Eric Clapton singing the blues with John Mayall’s band after leaving the Yardbirds in this Robert Johnson song. That’s Eric Clapton reading the comic book Beano on the cover of the album.
1967 — For What It’s Worth — Buffalo Springfield
A famous protest song, Stephen Stills said he wrote it about conflict between the police and young club goers regarding a curfew, but it is now associated with the protest movement against the Vietnam War (Wikipedia).
1968 — White Room — Cream
Here is Clapton again in this psychedelic song powerfully sung by Jack Bruce. The song is from the double album Wheels of Fire.
1969 — Up on Cripple Creak — The Band
“Up on Cripple Creek” is from the Band’s second album. I love the live version from The Last Waltz too, especially when Levon Helm says, “I sure wish I could yodel.”
1970 — Get Back — The Beatles
It’s the closing track of the 1970 album Let it Be. There are a few different versions of the song, including a single released in 1969. It hit #1 on the UK singles chart and the Billboard Hot 100. At the end of the famous rooftop concert, John can be heard joking, “I’d like to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.”
1971 — Hope You’re Feeling Better — Santana
1972 — One Way Out — Allman Brothers
A live song from the double album Eat a Peach, this was originally a blues song by Elmore James.
1973 — Fat Man in the Bathtub — Little Feat
Oh, the sound of this song! Let me listen and listen and listen.
1974 — Black Water — The Doobie Brothers
1975 — Night Flight — Led Zeppelin
From the double album Physical Graffiti (“In the Days of My Youth … Listening to Led Zeppelin“)
1976 — Sir Duke — Stevie Wonder
A tribute to Duke Ellington
1977 — Psycho Killer — Talking Heads
1978 — I Wanna Be Sedated — The Ramones
Joey Ramone wrote this about finally being in London while on the road when it was shut down at Christmas time and there was nothing to do (Wikipedia).
1979 — Joe’s Garage — Frank Zappa
1980 — Emotional Rescue — Rolling Stones
I should personally apologize to the Stones that this song is their only representation on this list, but I have always liked this song as a guilty pleasure and it’s my way of begrudgingly including disco.
1981 — Every Little Thing She Does is Magic — The Police
1983 — Sunday, Bloody Sunday — U2
This song’s about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. I almost put Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy” here, but I decided that it didn’t sound like 1983 like this one does.
1984 — Glory Days — Bruce Springsteen
The 80s were a rough decade to get through musically (both during high school and college and during this project) with so many of the hits from the decade either outright lousy or unpleasantly dated to hear now. I really love some Springsteen songs from the 70s, but I needed his help in the 80s. I remember this song, from Born in the USA, being a breath of fresh air at the time.
1986 — Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes — Paul Simon
This song is from the album Graceland. Simon worked with a variety of groups, including South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
1987 — Beds Are Burning — Midnight Oil
This song was reworked in 2009 as part of a project against climate change.
1988 — If I Should Fall from Grace with God — The Pogues
1989 — You Are the Everything — R.E.M.
1990 — Been Caught Stealing — Jane’s Addiction
1991 — In Bloom — Nirvana
1992 — No Rain — Blind Melon
1994 — Ants Marching — Dave Matthews Band
From the album Under the Table and Dreaming, which gets its title from this song
1995 — When I Come Around — Green Day
1996 — What I Got — Sublime
1997 — Bitter Sweet Symphony — The Verve
1998 — The General — Dispatch
1999 — Scar Tissue — Red Hot Chili Peppers
2001 — Bubble Toes — Jack Johnson
2002 — Clocks — Coldplay
2003 — Sad, Sad Song — M. Ward
2004 — Float On — Modest Mouse
Isaac Brock said he wrote the song in response to all the bad news related to George W. Bush because he wanted to “feel good for a day” (Wikipedia).
2005 — Take, Take, Take — The White Stripes
2006 — Falling Slowly — The Frames
A version of the song by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová is featured in the piano store scene in their wonderful movie Once. Here they are signing it on Letterman.
2007 — Paper Planes — M.I.A.
This song was featured in Slumdog Millionaire when the boys were on the train.
2008 — Skinny Love — Bon Iver
Justin Vernon holed up in a cabin by himself for three months and created the album For Emma, Forever Ago, which includes this song.
2009 — Hey, Soul Sister — Train
2010 — F*** You — Cee Lo Green
This video, a final project for a sign language class, really captures the spirit of the song.
2011 — Somebody That I Used to Know — Gotye
The video for this song was cool, and these other videos are worth checking out, too: an unusual cover with five people playing one guitar, and a hilarious parody of the cover. “Now and then we like to play one guitar together….”
2012 — Danse Caribe — Andrew Bird
Performed on the Colbert Report‘s site: “Hello there, tech-savvy youth demographic. This isn’t on television; that’s for the old people….”
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What is your favorite decade for rock music? Do you love any of these songs?