Way back 50 years ago, in 1967, the music was the stuff of legend — full of artists, songs, and culture that begat the Summer Of Love. So many great bands/artists were burgeoning under the surface: Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, Rolling Stones, the Who, Janis Joplin/Big Brother and the Holding Company. Tina Turner was preparing to blow away Ike, and Carole King was readying to become her own artist. The Byrds, the Hollies, and Buffalo Springfield birthed CSN(Y), and audiences booed Dylan at Newport Folk Festival for going electric.
It was a time of great social change, a new generation declaring itself in resistance to the Vietnam War and their parents’ conservatism; a time of refuting politics, haircuts, normalcy; a time of experimentation with mind-altering substances, and a quest for peace and love. The late ’60s were a cauldron of cultures and consciousness, and it made for tremendous music.
Let us stand back and appreciate 1967. Let us hope for our cultural renaissance in 2017, in our equally turbulent times. If ever we need a music revolution again, it is now. As Picasso said, “Artists are the politicians of the future.” — Paula Cole (also a product of 1967)
The Beatles — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles were sick and tired of being the Beatles, so they became Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, creating the first concept album with no singles. Free from touring, they began to live their unique personal lives, then went to the studio to record their masterwork. Psychedelia, innovation in writing/recording, the 1967 London art scene, Yoko, transcendental meditation, brilliance, and irreverence … they made the alter-ego masterwork whose influence is incalculable.
Aretha Franklin — I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)
Newly signed to Atlantic Records, recording with the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, rhythm section featuring Ms. Franklin on gospel rock piano, Aretha stormed the charts and changed music, hearts, and minds forever with fireworks such as “Respect,” “Think,” “Baby, I Love You,” and “You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman).”
Bobbie Gentry — Ode to Billie Joe
My sister from another generation, an introvert, Best New Artist Grammy winner Bobbie Gentry left the patriarchal music business, leaving us with this amazing story. She sang and played her guitar and, importantly, self-produced in a time when women didn’t do that. Her timeless song leaves us wondering what ever happened to Billie Joe, over the course of a Southern American family supper.
Jimi Hendrix — Are You Experienced?
One of the greatest debuts in music history, Jimi marked the sonic marriage of psychedelic UK rock with American blues and R&B.
Dolly Parton — Hello, I’m Dolly
Dolly’s first full-length album introduced her to the world, with two country hit singles — “Dumb Blonde” and “Something Fishy.”
Miles Davis — Live in Europe: 1967
The album celebrated one of the greatest quartets in musical history behind Miles:
Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, an Tony Williams.
James Brown — “Cold Sweat”
This was possibly the first funk single — with drums breaks, single chord jams, and funky instrumental arrangements.
Otis Redding — “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay”
He recorded this in December 1967 and died four days later, never knowing the tremendous success achieved on both the R&B and pop charts. It is said that he wrote this song, influenced by listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Nina Simone — High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone Sings the Blues, and Silk & Soul
Enough said! Incredible!
Sly and the Family Stone — A Whole New Thing
Sly and company made their debut with this one, which was lauded by Tony Bennett and Mose Allison, despite no commercial success.
Jefferson Airplane — Surrealistic Pillow
Jefferson Airplane had breakthrough hits with “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” pioneering the psychedelic era of rock.
Other notable musical moments of 1967:
Grateful Dead — The Grateful Dead
Loretta Lynn — Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)
The Doors — The Doors
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell — “Aint No Mountain High Enough” (off United)
Cream — Disraeli Gears
Simon & Garfunkel — “Mrs. Robinson” (from The Graduate)
Leonard Cohen — Songs of Leonard Cohen
Glen Campbell — Gentle on My Mind
Bob Dylan — “All Along the Watchtower” (off John Wesley Harding)