Classic folk rock songs pop

August 26, 2022
60s/70s folk/rock songs

I need to limit the category pretty strictly to decide. But it’s not simply a pragmatic limitation. Earlier Songbook posts have laid the groundwork for my main assumption, that the basic folk-rock recipe was to inject the purity and longing of the gentler, Baez-esque , side of the folk sound into the (already somewhat folk-inflected) sound of The Beatles .

Still, in some cases, the category is going to have to be a bit arbitrary. Basically, it applies to songs using the recipe circa 1965-1968, following the breakthrough example of the Byrds, often prominently featuring the jangle-y use (or imitation!) of the electric twelve-string. There are a couple of categories excluded then, the first of which will be the many folk-rock inflected pop songs , such as the wonderful “Summer Song” by Chad and Jeremy, “I Got You Babe, ” by Sonny and Cher, “Happy Together” by the Turtles, “Both Sides Now” by Judy Collins, and so many others—-many of these overlap with the “pop-art” sound I described in It Was the Dawning of the Age of the Harpsichord . These typically are not as guitar-based—the sound is often filled out by strings and such. The second category I’m going exclude are the late-60s sensitivity songs , which grew out of folk-rock and folk but which blend into the early 70s ascendance of James Taylor and such—some real beauties here, sometimes coming directly out of the folkie tradition, indeed often just recording acoustic guitar in novel ways.squires image Examples: “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her, ” by Simon and Garfunkle, “Candy Says, ” by The Velvet Underground, “Andmoreagain” by Love, and “Today” by Jefferson Airplane.

So, having set apart the folk-rock category that way, here are my choices. No links for really well-known numbers.

1) The Byrds, “Mr. Tambourine Man”
2) Jefferson Airplane, “Come up the Years”
3) The Squires, “Going All the Way”
4) The Gants, “I Wonder”
5) Jefferson Airplane, “Blues from an Airplane”
6) The Squires, “Go Ahead”
7) Vejtables, “I Still Love You”
8) The Byrds, “She Has a Way”
9) Love, “No Matter What”
10) The Byrds, “If You’re Gone”
11) Simon and Garfunkle, “Sounds of Silence”
12) We Five, “You Were on My Mind”
13) Jefferson Airplane, “It’s No Secret”
14) The Who, “The Kids Are Alright”
15) Scott Mackenzie, “If You’re Going to San Francisco”
16) The Velvet Underground, “Sunday Morning”
17) The Byrds, “My Back Pages”

Love imageWith “Mr. Tambourine Man, ” it’s hard to decide between the original and the cover—that’s how great both are. The Byrds version is known to be the beginning-point of folk-rock, but the impression I got from the authoritative book on the subject, Turn! Turn! Turn! by Richie Unterberger, is that there were plenty of other groups right behind the Byrds in terms of the basic sound—one of those “simultaneous discoveries” made by many folks in many places, in this case due to The Beatles.

The folk-rock album is not however, the Byrds’ debut, but Jefferson Airplane’s. They achieved, before becoming known for being a “psychedelic band, ” the best folk-rock sound: fuller and rockier than that of the Byrds, which at times, especially vocal-wise, gets kind of tiring. Their second album Surrealistic Pillow , is deservedly regarded as a rock classic (alas, their third, After Bathing at Baxter’s is one of the best pieces of evidence for the “acid ruined the music” hypothesis), but for me it’s still Jefferson Airplane Takes Off that rules. “Come Up the Years, ” is its in all-ways-glorious standout—sure, there’s always something creepy about “You’re so young, but I love you anyhow” songs, but you’ll make an exception for this one.

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Classic Rock/Pop Power Hour
Classic Rock/Pop Power Hour
Emo, POP Punk / Rock, Indie Sad Songs ( 2012 ) Demitri
Emo, POP Punk / Rock, Indie Sad Songs ( 2012 ) Demitri
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