50 Years of Great Rock: You Say It’s Your Birthday

Hop on a 14-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….

The rules:

  • one song a year
  • the song has to sound like its year
  • each band just once

(Video link)

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. 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.” {Related: 10 more movies you’ve never seen, but should}

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 {Related: 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 London 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

The Clash1982 — Should I Stay or Should I Go — The Clash
The band came up with the Spanish for the backing vocals by having their tape operator call his Ecuadorian mother to translate (Wikipedia).

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 life 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.

1985 — The Whole of the Moon — The Waterboys

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

1993 — Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town — Pearl Jam

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

2000 — Steal My Kisses — Ben Harper

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.

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

2013 — Do I Wanna Know? — Arctic Monkeys

2014 — That Black Bat Licorice — Jack White
Jack White released a cool, interactive video of “That Black Bat Licorice” that allows viewers to click among three different videos as they watch.

P.S. Three years ago, I made an earlier version of this video, knowing I would want to update it for my Big Five-Oh: 47 Years of Great Rock: You Say It’s Your Birthday.

P.P.S. My playlist of these 50 songs is 3 hours, 24 minutes.

P.P.P.S. My favorite segue: 1969/70. Levon Helm says, “When I get off of this mountain, you know where I want to go,” and Paul McCartney replies, “Go home.” (1:00) My second favorite segue: 1982/1983: The Clash musically ask, “Should I stay or should I go?” and Bono answers, “All right, let’s go.” (4:20)

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What is your favorite decade for rock music? Do you love any of these songs?

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About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.
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5 Responses to 50 Years of Great Rock: You Say It’s Your Birthday

  1. Amber says:

    I seriously can’t stand where rock music has gone these days. I think rock was great in the nineties. Love the song by The Verve. I really miss great rock music.

    • Marcy says:

      I go through years here and there where I feel like that, but there’s a lot of great stuff coming out all the time, I think, if I could just find it. There is so much now it’s hard to find the gems among the rest, though. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Wow what an effort to put the entire nostalgia in list ..
    Ruby Manchanda recently posted..XyrisMy Profile

  3. Pingback: Year in Review 2015: Just When I Thought I Was Out | (Don't Be) Too Timid and Squeamish

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