How Is The Music Of 1965 Like The World Today?

1965 Satisfaction

I tried something new recently and it was a fascinating experience.

Those of you who follow my posts about classic jazz records know that I have developed a fondness for the YouTube channel of Musicprof78.  Well he offers a much broader selection of tunes than the pre-rock stuff that is my home base.  In addition he has collections based on various themes, one of which is music that charted in a given year.

On one of my many trips to visit my mother in her memory care facility I decided that I was ready for a change of pace and looked at the selections there.  I was in a mood to sample 1966 but my time at a traffic light was rapidly waning and I decided to settle for 1965 (arranged by chart popularity) which came up quickly.  And it made me think of some things.

First off, I cannot remember the last time I listened to a steady stream of pop music purposefully restricted to a particular year.  OK, I actually did this in 1965 as I rode around in the back seat of my mother’s car.  She kept the AM radio in her Oldsmobile tuned to Fort Wayne’s big 50,000 watt station WOWO.  However, I was only six and was not really paying close attention yet.  But who could forget What’s New Pussycat?

My temporary immersion into a musical 1965 turned out to be an unusual experience.  As time has passed the pop music of the 1960s has retained much of its vigor and popularity.  The difference is that most listeners today (dare I say virtually all of us) get this music as part of a “sub-genre” that encompasses several years.  Some playlists or collections will give you lots of Beatles and Rolling Stones, maybe with some Byrds and Dylan thrown in.  Others will feature classic Motown and soul.  Then you have the Beach Boys, the Righteous Brothers and Sonny & Cher bringing a sort of American Pop with a broad cross appeal.

But 1965 was more than that.  Sure, I got all of the hits from those artists listed above – the kind of records that make everyone recognize music from that time.  But there was much more.

1965 was also the lesser groups of the British Invasion, like Herman’s Hermits (Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter and Henry VIII I Am).  There were also hits from lesser known Americans like Gary Lewis & The Playboys (This Diamond Ring) and The McCoys (Hang On Sloopy).  For those who might not know, the former included the son of famous comedian Jerry Lewis while the latter was a one-hit wonder from Union City, Indiana.

There were stylistic (or actual) throwbacks like The Four Seasons (Let’s Hang On) and  The Searchers (a cover of 1959’s Love Potion No. 9).

Is this not enough variey for you?  Let’s add in some easy listening crossovers like Petula Clark (Downtown) and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (A Taste Of Honey).

Lest you think I am reaching too deeply into 1965, every one I have named was among the records that hit No. 1 on the charts that year.  My point is that nobody today would ever get this broad variety of 1965 music in any one source unless you specifically seek it out as I did (if even by accident.)

As I was remarking in my mind about the extremely wide stylistic variety of the most popular music of 1965 my mind wandered to current events of recent years.

Everything has become polarized in politics and public life.  We get our news from the NYT or the WSJ.  Or from Fox News or from CNN.  Our internet browsers take us to sites that are hard left or hard right.  It occurred to me that these are like modern music playlists that are either all Bob Dylan (Like A Rolling Stone) and Barry McGuire (Eve Of Distruction) or quite different selections like Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders (Game Of Love) or Len Berry (1-2-3).

Is late term abortion infanticide or is it about a woman’s right to choose?  How you think of this probably depends on the news playlist you are listening to.  What about immigration and borders?  Same.  They are like Sam The Sham (Wooly Bully) or The Toys (Lover’s Concerto).  Which opinion equates to which song is something I will leave for you to decide.

My point is that in today’s environment we are unlikely to get the whole spectrum of a story from any one place (or viewpoint).  America is indeed a nation of immigrants and there is much to be said for welcoming those in need.  However, borders exist for a reason and we have a right to make decisions about who will and will not be allowed to come in.  Both views are widely held and it is folly to pretend that one or the other is not.

And like old music, some ideas will hold up over time better than others.  The problem is knowing which is which when everything is fresh.  After all, Herman’s Hermits were all over the pop charts of 1965 but have very little relevance to most of today’s music fans.  But what is obvious today was not obvious at all back then.

There is nothing wrong with having an opinion on a host of important issues, just like there is noting wrong with listening to a lot of Motown or a lot of Beach Boys.  But listening to too much of one group of tunes can make you forget just how many styles made 1965 (or any given year) what it was in music, where many disparate styles found favor with the general public.

Too much from any one news or information source can make us forget that there is often more than one way to look at the world.  As my dip into the music of 1965 confirmed, human civilization is a mighty varied and complicated place.  It always was.

Credits:

All music is from the YouTube channel of MusicProf78

Cover photo from 45cat.com

14 thoughts on “How Is The Music Of 1965 Like The World Today?

  1. Good idea! I sort of did something like that when I was refurbishing my 63 VW, I made an effort to listen to mid 60’s music while I was doing it. That was 10 years ago, so my level of technology was getting my brother in law to bootleg me some CD’s. Now I would have taken the bluetooth speaker out to the garage and put Musicprof on the computer.

    As with your list there it’s surprising how many songs that were popular I am only peripherally aware of, or flat out never heard of. Like Ebb Tide, holy Phil Specter echoey wall of sound! Meanwhile I can hardly listen to Satisfaction because I’ve heard it so many times.

    Broadness and nuance is a pretty fun thing, but seems in ever shorter supply. I try to vary my information diet, but there’s one auto-ish website I’ve just stopped visiting, because it’s impossible to bring any nuance to the discussion. And I find it tough to learn anything in that environment as well 😦

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    • I’m with you on Satisfaction, but then a little Rolling Stones always went a long way with me.
      I made it fairly deeply into the playlist on subsequent dives and even though I was alive then and have a pretty good grasp on the music of the era, there was a lot that I had never heard of. Much of it for good reason.

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    • It has also been interesting listening to”classic hits” radio through the years. 40s music and jazz could be found occasionally into the 80s, 50s to pre-Beatles music was played after that. 60s got really popular in the 80s and has only recently gotten hard to find on air. Now “classic hits” means 80s-90s music. Aging is a terrible thing. 😀

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  2. If you go back and listen to radio airchecks from the period, “Top 40” stations really did play the top 40 records, whatever they were. It wasn’t until the 70s that it started to fragment.

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    • The way I remember it (and I was awfully young and could be wrong) was that there were real top 40 stations that played both Stones and Sinatra, like WOWO in Fort Wayne. There were also stations that were focused more on the youth demographic (huge in 1965) and these omitted the stodgy adult stuff from their playlists. WOWO was for parents, WLYV was for kids.

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      • Yes, I think you’re right. I’m recalling WABC in New York now. But still, that was the removal of only the stodgy — it wasn’t the full fragmenting into subgenre radio as we have now.

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      • As I recall (I turned 8 in 1965, but had an older sister who had the radio on all the time) at least here in California, Top 40 stations played a few oldies that had been Top 40 hits. Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, and even Sinatra and Louis Armstrong (Mack the Knife could be heard right after Henry VIII). By the way, The McCoys were a one-hit wonder as a group, but singer Rick Derringer went on to become somewhat of a star as a solo performer and performing with Johnny Winter. He was a pretty talented guitarist. By late 1968, influenced again by my older sister, I started listening to our local FM “underground” station which played an eclectic mix of everything from the Beatles to an entire side of a Jimi Hendrix album, to Bach, to Taj Mahal. Probably the best era for radio, with a long empty period of “programmed” stations before streaming and YouTube let you listen to whatever you want. Which is not always a good way to hear new music.

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      • Yes, older siblings were good ways to learn things, and as the oldest kid in the house I didn’t have one of those. I remember in the summer of 1971 my mom got my cousin Dave to “watch” us during the day while she was at work. I was 12 and Dave was 16 and very hands-off. He had CKLW from Windsor Ontario on all day, and it was very youth oriented. I didn’t know it then but that was about the end of the line for the days of an AM station dominating the teen market.

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  3. A Taste of Honey was a beautiful tune. I loved Classical Gas (Mason Williams) and Atlantis (Donovan) but I think those were both 1966. I don’t think I have either in my collection today so I need to add them to my list as well as Herb Alpert. Today I am mostly a Classic Rock listener, with a sprinkling of 70s – 80s pop. I do enjoy the Mills Brothers from time to time. Ahh the music of our youths.

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    • It is funny that out of everything I listen to from the 20s through today, it is the stuff from the 70s that is least appealing to me (and that should be my favorite based on my age).
      It is also funny how I have been buying records/CDs for decades yet almost never touch them with all that is available via streaming.

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  4. Like Doug, I put together a collection to go with my Chrysler, so I am also quite familiar with the 1965 charts. As I recall to get a little more quantity I went from ’64-’66. The best find was the Keener13 website about Detroit’s top 40 station, which has not only DJ airchecks but vintage commercials as well.

    How about the fact that you could possibly hear Dean Martin and Gary Lewis on the same station?

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    • I thought of you and your Chrysler as I listened to these. An AM radio in a car like that is about useless for getting music these days without some kind of Aux input for playing your own stuff.
      I had not thought about the Dean Martin and Gary Lewis thing, which is pretty good.

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