Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The 40 Best Songs of 1966

Numbers 5 to 1

5. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas

Growing up in hot sunny Alabama and making my home here in the gray Pacific Northwest, I should identify strongly with this tale of longing for one’s warmer native lands, except I much prefer the cool overcast climate of Seattle to the humid inferno of my youth. Nevertheless, I can understand the desire to return to the Golden State. I once vacationed amongst the coastal redwoods of Del Norte County and cannot imagine a more beautiful location on the planet. The Mamas and The Papas made it to number four, their first hit single, with this classic. Their tremendous vocal harmonies complemented with a lovely flute solo garner it a place in my top five.

4. Try A Little Tenderness – Otis Redding

The King of Soul, backed up by the magnificent Stax house band, Booker T. and the MGs, transformed this old standard into one of the all-time soul classics. From the Memphis Horns and their opening dirge, the song builds a consistent Bolero-like momentum until Otis explodes into a staccato shouting of the lyrics. I often wonder what would have happened if Otis had lived and had the opportunity to play around with Funk and Philly Soul in the 70’s.   

3. Eight Miles High – The Byrds

It’s amazing what you can do with a twelve-string Rickenbacker, especially if you are Roger McGuinn. This was one of the first major hits to feature that raga-like sitar-tinged sound. It only made it to number fourteen, but that’s mostly due to the radio stations refusing to play it because of drug references. The band claimed it was about a plane ride to London. I think it was maybe a little bit of both.  

2. Eleanor Rigby – The Beatles

It’s really amazing what you can do with a string octet, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. This sad story of lonely people is truly a work of art. It spent four weeks at the top of the British charts, but only made it to eleven here in the States. An unusual Baroque entry for the pop charts, it represented a huge step in the incredible evolution of the Beatles.

1. Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones

From those first hesitant guitar notes to Charlie Watt’s hammering drum intro, you knew this one was a little different. Arguably, this might be the Stones’ best song. This dark masterpiece was a number one hit on both sides of the pond and, in my opinion, the best song of 1966.  

Comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Thank you for your interest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great choices. Just want to say, belatedly, how great it is to have you back and posting good stuff again.