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1965 Pt. 1 ” I Believe in Yesterday”

February 19, 2015

Fifty years ago, rock and popular music had a magical year. I say this despite the fact that I was only 10 years old and really didn’t listen to music yet on the radio (as I started to do in early 1966). In fact, I was still much more enamoured with following the New York Yankees who sadly for me were to suffer their first losing season in decades in 1965 and the abrupt end of a baseball dynasty that had lasted more than four decades. Musically, 1965 was a year that I remember mostly for my first record album “Help!” that my mother allowed me to play on her old RCA Victor as well as my second record album “Rubber Soul” that I bought at the end of 1965. But it wasn’t long before (during 1966 and 1967) that I started catching up collecting singles and albums from 1965, which in my opinion is the best year for rock music ever. (But it’s not just “my” opinion, Lou Simon of Sirius XM radio “60s Satellite Survey” describes 1965 as his “favorite year” as well).  

1965 was characterized by several important trends in rock/pop music. The first was the continuing dominance of the Beatles as the top group on the rock scene. The second was the continuation of the British invasion with many 1964 groups doing well in 1965 and several notable new acts emerging. Third, it was the beginning of a new US folk-rock sound. Lastly, soul and R&B was arguably better than ever, most notably the Motown sound in 1965. In this regard, 1965 was a “classic” year with the Beatles, British invasion, folk-rock and the Motown sound, newly ascendant or at or near its peak. Because of all the great music in 1965, I decided to split “1965” into two blog postings. So herewith is Pt. 1, the Beatles and the British Invasion:

1965 began and ended with the Beatles who released four albums during the year (Beatles 65, Beatles VI, Help! and Rubber Soul), though technically Beatles 65 was released on December 15, 1964, no doubt to coincide with Christmas shopping. All four albums went immediately to no. 1 on the charts. Similarly, the year was nicely bracketed by five outstanding Beatles singles-all that went to #1 starting with “Eight Days a Week” “Ticket to Ride”, “Help”, “Yesterday” and finishing with my favorite two-sided Beatles hit “We Can Work it Out/Day Tripper” released in early December 1965. My favorite Beatles song was “Ticket to Ride” perhaps for it infectious chorus and driving guitar playing by George, and I constantly sang the chorus around our apartment during 1965. But I really loved them all, from “Day Tripper” excellent guitar riffs  to the great vocals and harmonies in “Help”, “Eight Days a Week” and “We Can Work it Out” and finally the beautiful simplicity of  “Yesterday”.

Of the 1965 Beatles albums, “Help” and “Rubber Soul” are my favorites, no doubt because they were the first albums I owned.  (However, in retrospect, “Beatles 65” has many excellent songs as well including most notably  “I’m a Loser”, “No Reply”, “I’ll Be Back” “Baby’s in Black” “I Feel Fine” (which was also a #1 single at the end of 1964/beginning of 1965), and “She’s a Woman”.

“Help” has seven outstanding songs all from the movie– Help!, Ticket to Ride, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, The Night Before, You’re Gonna Lose that Girl, Another Girl, and I Need You.  All could have been hit singles if the Beatles had chosen to release them and in fact, one song “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” was turned into a hit single by another group Silkie later in the year. The only problem with the “Help” album is that it had another five tracks containing soundtrack filler from the movie which with the exception of the instrumental sitar version of a Hard Days Night theme (“Another Hard Day’s Night”) are not memorable. This soundtrack filler resulted in many scratches and skips in the album as I was constantly picking up the needle to skip these mostly forgettable, instrumental tracks.

The Beatles “Rubber Soul” album is still one of their all-time classics. Similar to  “Help” it features the Beatles great songwriting, singing and harmonies. But unlike Help,  it contains the beginning of the Beatles more sophisticated lyrical and musical themes particularly John’s beautiful snapshots in  “Norwegian Wood” and “In My Life” as well as his complicated relationship in “Girl”. And of course Paul had two great love songs “Michelle” (which was later covered and charted by multiple other artists) as well as the up-tempo country and western style, acoustic “I’ve Just Seen a Face” which contains some fine guitar work by George. But Paul also was getting away from simple themes with his interesting and very melodic “I’m Looking Thru You”… “I thought I knew you , what did I know” and my favorite song on the album, the irresistibly catchy “You Won’t See Me” that captured Paul’s desperate mood in his tenuous relationship with Jane Asher in late 1965.  

However, as much as the Beatles preeminence was an enduring characteristic of 1965, in many ways it was the emergence of the Rolling Stones as the Beatles main challenger in the rock scene that characterized the year. Though the Stones didn’t sell nearly as many singles or albums as the Beatles in 1965, they did have the most successful single of the year “Satisfaction” which is perhaps the most famous rock anthem of the 1960s and is rightfully on many lists as the greatest rock song of all time. “Satisfaction” had a catchy and unique guitar riff by Keith Richard that was played thru a fuzz box in order to roughen the sound. Early in the year, the Stones had one of their first major commercial successes in the US with “The Last Time” which features a driving guitar riff (this time played by Brian Jones) and was another Jagger/Richard original composition. Later in the year, the Stones released another great rocker “Get Off of My Cloud” which was so up tempo that they managed to squeeze in the lyric “I live on an apartment on the ninety-ninth floor of my block” all in the first musical line of the song. The full lyrics of this song along with the aforementioned “Satisfaction” and “The Last Time” cemented the Stones reputation as the bad boys of rock or the anti-Beatles, though of course the truth was more complicated. In December 1965, the Stones released its version of the very McCartney-like “As Tears Go By” that it had written earlier for Marianne Faithful in late 1964. It was a beautiful love song with the Stones arrangement including acoustic guitar and a string orchestra accompaniment very much influenced by the late 1965 success of the Beatles “Yesterday”. 

Though the Dave Clark 5 had good year in 1964 ( with “Glad All Over” most notably) , 1965 was their best year, starting with their excellent cover of Chris Kenner’s I Like it Like That and then September’s very “catchy” “Catch Us if you Can” (from the DC 5 movie “Having a Wild Weekend”). “Catch Us if You Can” was unquestionably the best song they ever recorded and one of my favorites of the 60s. Finally, DC 5 ended the year with the release of “Over and Over” their most popular and only #1 hit , which is another irresistible DC 5 song.

Meanwhile, The Kinks fed off their success in 64 with two more great rock n’ roll classics. First, there was the up-tempo, guitar-infused “All of the Day and All the Night” with another unforgettable Ray Davies guitar riff and solo ( much like its predecessor in 1964 ” You Really Got Me ” ) . This was followed by the slower tempo , soulful “Tired of Waiting for You” which became the first in a long line of more introspective and lyrical Kinks songs. I love this song for Ray Davies vocal where you feel that he is truly “so tired”, something that John Lennon might have picked up on in the Beatles recording “I’m So Tired” several years later.

The Animals recorded some of their best songs in 1965 though they were all much less successful commercially than 1964’s #1 hit “House of the Rising Sun”. Their three best of the year without question were “Dont Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “We Gotta Get out of this Place” and “It’s My Life”. Each featured a great tune, a great driving bass and guitar line, Eric Burdon’s deep voice and occasionally Jagger-like vocals and some great lyrics such as “In this dirty old part of the city where the sun refuse to shine…”We gotta get out of this place if it’s the last thing we ever do….girl there’s a better life for me and you” and “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh lord, don’t let me be misunderstood”.

A new group, the Yardbirds helped to blaze the trail for future hard rock with their first hit song in the US “For Your Love” which cracked the top ten in the US. “For Your Love” is a simple rock song with a driving beat and melody but it still stands as one of the top rock songs of the 1960s. Interestingly, Eric Clapton who had been lead guitarist for the group since late 1963 left the group to join John Mayall’s Blues Breakers right after the commercial success of the single, afraid the group was becoming too “popular’ and eschewing the original group’s “blues’ roots. However, the Yardbirds barely missed a beat when they replaced Clapton with Jeff Beck and recorded the excellent and almost as successful “Heart Full of Soul” which included Beck’s experimental fuzz guitar sound.     

Another new British soft rock act, Herman’s Hermits invaded America at the very end of 1964 , with their release of “I’m into Something Good” which was to be the first of their SEVEN top ten charting hits during 1965. The remaining hits included “Can’t you hear, my heartbeat”, “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”, “Silhouettes”, “Wonderful World”, “I’m Henry the VIII”, and “Just a little bit better”. At the time I remember hearing “I’m Henry, the VIII , I am” repeatedly while in a car (no doubt because WABC played the #1 song every hour) with my friend Neil up at his parents country place in the Catskills . It was a very simple ( “second verse same as the first”) catchy song driven by Peter Noone’s excellent vocals. In retrospect, ” Mrs. Brown…” the Hermits other #1 hit was a better song with a unique opening guitar sound and nicer tune. However, my favorite of their songs in ’65 was the #2 hit “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat”  because as the song intones “you’re the one I love”.

Another successful “new” British act (at least on the U.S. Charts) was Petula Clark, who scored at the beginning of the year with #1 smash, and one of the top songs of 1965 “Downtown”. Petula had actually been a childhood entertainer during WWII for the British troops and a recording artist and film actress since the late 1940s. However, it took “Downtown” to make her an American singing star. The song had a great musical refrain and a wonderful musical and lyrical introduction “When you’re alone and live is bringing you down, you can always go….Downtown” led by a great piano intro and Petula’s heartfelt singing. Her follow-up “I Know a Place” reached #3 and was nearly as good “a swinging place, a cellar full of noise”. Petula had a rich and beautiful voice and finally got the song material she deserved in 1965.

Other British invasion singles that I also enjoyed included Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders “Game of Love”, Freddie and the Dreamers “I’m Telling You Now”, Gerry and the Pacemakers beautiful “Ferry Cross the Mersey”, the Zombies excellent “Tell Her No” and the Fortunes great vocal harmonies in the impossible-not-to-sing or hum-along “You’ve Got Your Troubles”. I also enjoyed the Moody Blues’ first US hit “Go Now” though Denny Laine’s tenure in the group was short-lived thereafter, with the group being transformed with the arrival of Justin Hayward and John Lodge in late 1966.  And it was hard not to like Shirley Bassey’s only US chart success with her stirring rendition of “Goldfinger” in the 1965 film which began a long history of  excellent James Bond movie songs. 

Not all British invasion songs were good of course, with probably my least favorite being Welshman crooner Tom Jones’ two hits “What’s New Pussycat” and “It’s Not Unusual”. However, I must admit I was never a big fan of Tom Jones though I can understand his appeal to some.  

But it was certainly a small quibble with an outstanding year of music from “across the pond”. In fact, these songs made it easy f0r me to  “believe in yesterday”.

From → Music 60s70s

One Comment
  1. Neil permalink

    Great year. Great post. I used to fantasize about meeting Mrs. Brown’s lovely daughter!

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