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1967: “All You Need is Love”

September 8, 2017

An excerpted chapter from my book “I’ve Got the Music in Me: A Fan’s View of 1960s and 1970s Rock and Pop Music”. Available on Amazon.com as an ebook (only $3.33) or paperback ($9.99). Enjoy.

1967 
“All You Need Is Love”

I originally wrote this c­hapter during an unusually hot Memorial Day Weekend, and it reminded me that 1967 was the “Summer of Love”. Yours truly, then an admit­tedly somewhat nerdy 12/13-year-old, spent much of his free time listening to music on WABC radio in NYC. I also began buying and collecting numerous singles. (I was a well-known customer in a 23rd Street store called Sultan’s Record Shop run by Harry Sultan, perhaps one of the original “Sultans of Swing”.)

Every Tuesday afternoon, Dan Ingram of WABC presented the top 20 hits of the week (playing “super hit #1” as the second song at the top of every hour). I eagerly listened to these new WABC surveys after school keeping a written list of the top 20. This took some doing because WABC played about 3-4 commercials for every song played so I typically multi-tasked (before I knew what that was!) and did my math homework at the same time. Though popular music was decidedly moving towards more sexually explicit lyrics along with hidden and not-so-hidden drug references, I was mostly blithely unaware of all this at the time.

I also played Strat-O-Matic baseball almost obsessively, calculating the batting averages and ERAs for the shortened AL “season” that I played (to those who don’t know about Strat-O-Matic, it is a board game played with dice and individual player cards based on the actual statistics of the players). I supplemented this with the occasional game of stick­ball, punchball and wiffle ball, though usually only when my mother yelled at me to go outside and play. This occurred typically when my brother, my friends and I started playing indoor baseball, basketball and hockey, which could become rather rough – and particularly rough on the furniture, walls and the built-in wooden closets.

It was a great summer to follow Major League Baseball both live (75 cents for a bleacher seat, $1.50 for a grandstand seat) and on TV even though my favorite team, the New York Yankees, were last most of the year. 1967 featured an incredible AL pennant race between the Red Sox, Tigers, Twins and White Sox with all four in the race coming into the final weekend of the season. I got caught up in the race plus Carl Yastrzemski’s pursuit of the triple crown and even rooted for him to achieve the feat as well as his team to achieve The Impossible Dream from ninth the previous season (only two games out of last) to first in the AL. (This in spite of the fact that in later years, the Red Sox became my “Darth Vader” as a fan.)

British Music Still Ascendant

But as exciting as 1967 was for baseball fans, it also featured many new and exciting rock music developments. There were the Spencer Davis Group’s first and only two top 40 hits “Gimme Some Lovin’” (#7 Feb.) and “I’m a Man” (#10 Apr.). The group featured an 18-yr-old Steve Winwood, born in South Wales. At age 14, Steve had formed the group in Birmingham, England with brother Muff (bass) and Peter York (drums) and brought out the unique sounds of the Hammond organ as well as being an excellent lead guitarist and lead vocalist. (One actually wonders why the group wasn’t called the “Steve Winwood Group” even back then.) This marked the beginning of Steve Winwood’s legendary and lengthy career which has spanned Spencer Davis, Traffic, Blind Faith, Traffic again and a very successful solo career that continues to this day. Winwood, whom I saw several years ago in concert with Eric Clapton, still is among my favorite artists of all time.

Disraeli Gears by the trio Cream – Jack Bruce (bass), Ginger Baker (drums) and Eric Clapton (guitar) – was released in England in 1967 and at the end of 1967 in the U.S. It was the best album by Cream and featured the iconic songs “Sunshine of Your Love”, “Strange Brew” (“killed what’s inside of you”) and “Tales of Brave Ulysses” (“and the sirens sweetly singing”). It was also the breakout album success for the lead guitarist Eric Clapton.

The Beatles had an eventful year with the March release of the double-sided hit “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever” (#1 Mar.) simulta­neously with two separate promo­tional videos. These were among the first “music videos” in which musicians weren’t just performing and predated MTV by almost 15 years. “Strawberry Fields” is one of the earliest and probably defining works of the psychedelic rock genre. In addition to unique instru­mentation and lyrics and Lennon’s extra­ordinary vocals (“let me take you down, cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields, nothing is real”), the song featured a dramatic shift in musical tempo and key midway through, which creates a very unique effect. In fact, this all happened by accident as two separate versions of the song (that John had created) were melded together by the production genius of George Martin.[i]

Of course, The Beatles were only beginning in 1967 and followed up with the early summer release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is considered by many (e.g., Rolling Stone) as the greatest rock album of all time. It was hard to disagree even after repeated listenings that virtually every song on the album was great and blended together nicely from the “Sgt. Peppers/With a Little Help from My Friends” intro to the “Sgt. Peppers (reprise)/ A Day in the Life” finale. In between were several very unique songs: the psychedelic brilliance of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, the jarring yet upbeat “Getting Better”, the bizarre, circus-sounding “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, and the interesting-sounding rockers “Lovely Rita” and “Good Morning”.

Later in the summer and fall, The Beatles had two new singles, “All You Need Is Love” (#1 Aug.), the unofficial anthem of the Summer of Love, and “Hello Goodbye/I Am The Walrus” (#1 Dec.). The latter two-sided single included as the A-side, “Hello Goodbye”, which was the fitting opening song of McCartney’s solo concert that I saw performed in 2002. The B-side, “I Am the Walrus”, was a great Lennon-inspired hit that took psychedelic rock to newer and even more avant-garde directions (“Yellow mother custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye...”).

Though not one of their better years, The Rolling Stones weren’t silent either in a 1967 that featured an outstanding two-sided hit “Ruby Tuesday/Let’s Spend the Night Together” (#1 Mar.) and later in the year “Dandelion” (#14 Oct.) (“Tell me if she laughs or cries, blow away dandelion”). Being a naive seventh grader, I had assumed that “Ruby Tuesday” (“Yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone…no one knows she comes and goes”) was about the day “Tuesday” rather than Linda Keith, who had a love relationship with Keith Richards. Richards notes that “Linda Keith was the one that first broke my heart” and “Basically, Linda is ‘Ruby Tuesday’”.[ii]

Back in the U.S.A.

In 1967, American born Jimi Hendrix had his first popular success in the U.K. as he formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience and released several singles before releasing his first, and in my opinion, “best” album Are You Experienced. (Hendrix had spent several years prior in the U.S. recording and touring with various acts including the Isley Brothers, Joey Dee and the Starlighters and Little Richard, to name a few.) The first album included such great songs as “Purple Haze” (#65 Sep.) (“Purple haze, all in my brain, lately things, they don’t seem the same”), “Foxey Lady” (#67 Jan. 1968), “Hey Joe”, “Fire”, and the title track from the album “Are You Experienced” and gives a good indication of why Hendrix is considered the best rock guitarist in history by many.

Meanwhile from LA, the Doors burst onto the scene with their first album, The Doors, released in January that fittingly included “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” as its first track. The album features one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Light My Fire” (#1 Aug.), in its seven-minute version, as opposed to the three-minute version that AM radio played and made popular during the summer. (This marked the first divide between AM and FM radio as FM was just beginning to play album music, including all seven minutes of songs like “Light My Fire”.) The album, which is considered one of the best albums in rock history, also features “The Crystal Ship” (“Before you slip into unconsciousness, I’d like to have another kiss”), “Back Door Man”, and “Twentieth Century Fox”, among other iconic songs. The album finishes up with “The End”, an 11-minute FM classic that it is truly unforgettable for those who remember the opening credits to the movie Apocalypse Now.

Most Popular Hits in 1967

 1. To Sir With Love – Lulu

 2. Ode to Billie Joe – Bobby Gentry

 3. The Letter – Box Tops

 4. Groovin’ – Young Rascals

 5. Daydream Believer – Monkees

 6. Happy Together – Turtles

 7. Windy – Association

 8. Light My Fire – Doors

 9. Something Stupid – Nancy and Frank Sinatra

  1. Hello Goodbye – Beatles

Up north in San Francisco, Jefferson Airplane, originally formed in 1966, decided to add a new, then unknown female lead vocalist, Grace Slick, who had been singing and writing with the group The Great Society, for their second album Surrealistic Pillow in 1967. In addition to her rather extraordinary rock voice, Grace penned two songs on the album that were path-breaking – “Somebody to Love” (#5 June) and “White Rabbit” (#8 Aug.) (“One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small”). At the same time, to memorialize the San Francisco rock and love scene, there were two popular hits, Eric Burdon and the Animals’ “San Franciscan Nights” (#9 Sep.) (“It’s an American dream includes Indians too) and Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco” (#4 July) (“be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”).

Buffalo Springfield hit its peak in 1967 with “For What It’s Worth” (#7 Mar.) (“Paranoia strikes deep into your life it will creep”), its highest-charting single and what was to become a political anthem of the 1960s. Later that same year, the group released its best album Buffalo Springfield Again that included three other classics: “Bluebird” (#58 Aug.), “Mr. Soul”, and “Broken Arrow”. The group featured Stephen Stills and Neil Young who in a couple of years made up half of the highly successful Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The other half of the future CSNY – the ByrdsDavid Crosby and the HolliesGraham Nash – were also active. The Byrds had an excellent album and two very good songs: Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages” (#30 May) and the satiric “So You Want to Be a Rock N Roll Star” (#29 Feb.) (“Just get an electric guitar and take some time to learn how to play”). Both songs were from their fourth album Younger than Yesterday early in the year. However, by the end of the year, Crosby had been “fired” by the other group members due to his highly egotistical, erratic and contentious nature.[iii]

Meanwhile, Graham Nash left the Hollies on a high note after finishing the recording of the colorful “On a Carousel” (#11 May) (“Riding along on a carousel, got to catch up to you”). Both Crosby and Nash teamed up with Stills to start CSN in late 1967.

My Favorite Songs in 1967

 1. Light My Fire – Doors

 2. Happy Together – Turtles

 3. Gimme Some Lovin’ – Spencer Davis Group

 4. Ruby Tuesday – Rolling Stones

 5. All You Need is Love – Beatles

 6. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

 7. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Frankie Valli

 8. Friday on My Mind – Easybeats

 9. Windy – The Association

  1. Sunshine of Your Love – Cream

There are many other great individual rock songs and memories for me in 1967, including:

I first saw The Turtles’ “Happy Together” (#1 Apr.) (“Imagine me and you I do”) performed on TV during The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (before the show was cancelled because of their anti-war/anti-police skits in 1968).

“Windy” (#1 July) by The Association, which much later became one of the earliest songs my eldest daughter Kathleen at age 2 could remember. (This dad made sure to play and educate his daughters about 1960s music!)

The Easybeats’ “Friday on My Mind” (#16 May) included lyrics that I found very relatable even in junior high school. “Monday morning seems so bad. Everybody seems to nag me.”

“Good Thing” (#4 Jan.) by Paul Revere and the Raiders (I can still remember trying to count how many times they repeat “Good Thing” in the song).

Other songs that evoked positive memories:

Procol Harum’s first hit “Whiter Shade of Pale” (#5 Aug.) (“Skipped the last fandango. Turned cartwheels across the floor”) had very unique lyrics and stately organ playing.

“I Think We’re Alone Now” (#4 Apr.) (“There doesn’t seem to be anyone around”) by Tommy James and the Shondells – This very catchy tune was one of my first single purchases of 1967.

“The Letter” (#1 Sep.) by The Box Tops was one of the liveliest hits of the year (love that opening “popping” drum sequence) and the first hit by this Memphis blue-eyed soul group. But “The Letter” was almost over before it started, checking in at only 1 min. 58 sec. on my copy of the single.

“We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet” (#7 Feb.) by the Blues Magoos was the first and only top 40 hit by this Bronx group and evoked memories of the garage rock sound.

“Sock It to Me Baby” (#6 Mar.) by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels was another enjoyable Mitch Ryder rocker.

“Kind of a Drag” (#1 Feb.) by the Buckinghams was the first hit by this group as well as by any “Chicago” group that featured brass instruments.

Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (#2 July) (“You’re just too good to be true”) was the best slow ballad of the year.

The Mamas and the Papas had their last two top 20 songs “Dedicated to the One I Love” (#2 Mar.) and “Creeque Alley” (#5 May) (“And no one’s getting fat except Mama Cass”). The former song is a beautiful cover of the Shirelles song from the early 1960s. The latter song is a nice autobiographical tune about the group’s early years, a memoir of sorts in light of their fall from popularity shortly thereafter.

Likewise, the Lovin’ Spoonful had their last two top 20 hits – “Darling Be Home Soon” (#15 Mar.) (“For the great relief of having you to talk too”) and “Six O’clock” (#18 June) (“There’s something special about six o’clock”). Both were excellent Sebastian compositions.

1967 also marked the height of the Monkees’ popularity, which really only lasted for the two years of their very popular TV show from fall 1966 to summer 1968. At the time, I cringed at the fact that the group didn’t even play on much of their first two albums, relying instead on session musicians. However, several of their songs from 1967 have endured the test of time, largely benefitting from excellent song­writing from the likes of Carole King (“Pleasant Valley Sunday”, #3 Aug.), Neil Diamond (“A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”, #2 Apr.), and “I’m a Believer”, #1 Jan.), and John Stewart of the Kingston Trio (“Daydream Believer”, #1 Dec.).

In addition, two of my favorite female vocalists near the end of their popular careers – Petula Clark and Lesley Gore – hit it big with “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” (#5 July) (“Don’t stand in the pouring rain”), and “California Nights” (#16 Mar.), respectively. (In the latter case, Lesley sang this song while appearing as one of Catwoman’s sidekicks in an episode of Batman.) Sixteen-year-old Janis Ian had her first hit with the beautiful and socially conscious “Society’s Child” (#14 July) (“I can’t see you anymore, baby”), a song she had written at age 14. Another outstanding female vocalist, Dionne Warwick, had a big hit with “I Say a Little Prayer” (#4 Dec.) (“The moment I wake up before I put on my makeup”).

Meanwhile, Motown and other soul and R&B hits were excellent. The most famous and long-lasting hit was Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” (#1 June) (“All I’m asking for is a little respect”). However, the year also featured:

The Supremes’ “The Happening” (#1 May) (“It happened to me and it can happen to you”) and “Reflec­tions” (#2 Sep.) (“Reflections of the way life used to be”). Both songs were outstanding and written by Holland-Dozier-Holland, though “Reflections” broke a streak of four #1 hits in a row for the Supremes.

The Four Tops’ “Bernadette” (#4 Apr.) (“I want you cause I need you to live!”), and “7 Rooms of Gloom” (#14 June) (“I see a house of stone, a lonely house cause now you’re gone”) were both irresistible hit songs by my favorite Motown group.

Other excellent Motown hits included Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her” (#2 Aug.), Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “I Second that Emotion” (#4 Dec.) (“But if you feel like loving me, if you got the notion, I second that emotion”), the Temptations’ “You’re My Everything” (#6 Sep.), Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man” (#2 Nov.), Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music” (#2 May) (“Do you like good music? Yeh, Yeh.”) and Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (#2 Dec.) (“Bet you’re wondering how I knew”).

Last but not least was the unforgettable “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” (#6 Sep.) (“Than I’ve ever been lifted before”) by Jackie Wilson, an always inspiring love song, which was a featured opening song that I played on my tape deck for my friend Jonathan’s wedding more than three decades later.

*****

Though not quite as good a year as 1965 and 1966, 1967 was still a very good year. And though 1967 was mostly about psychedelic and folk rock (e.g., Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Mamas and Papas, Lovin’ Spoonful, etc.), there were signs of the emerging hard rock boom that was to start in 1968.

[i] Spignesi and Lewis, 100 Best Beatles Songs: An Informed Fan’s Guide, pp. 16-17.

[ii] Richards with Fox, Life, pp. 184-187.

[iii] Johnny Rogan, The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.) (UK: Rogan House, 1998), pp. 232-234.

From → Music 60s70s

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