The year, 1965. It’s a magic charm of sorts. Say the year, summon the mystical brilliance of one of the greatest years in musical history—great in the sense that so many bands and songs that would become contributors to the canon were born in these 12 fortuitous months. So many great entries, so many great authors, at the forefront of this beautiful revolution that keeps turning, keeps revolving, keeps innovating, despite the modern trends that seem so bent on working against its progress. Rock is dead, they say? Daltrey sang it so in 1972—he wasn’t the first; he won’t be the last.
If rock survives, it should be in spite of all those whole take such joy in declaring it flat lined while celebrating the latest trend and innovation that take music in some new, misguided direction. If rock survives—and seriously, stop bitching about it—it will be by virtue of a strange alchemy of swagger, sex, rebellion and a whole host of attitudes and behaviors. It will not depend on the older generation's disapproval and the sneering reaction of the younger one--rock will always be frowned upon by ‘polite’ society. How many times has the press declared rock’s heartbeat to have ceased and insisted on putting it in the ground, ignoring the funky, beautiful rhythm of the dirt falling on the casket? Rock dies and comes back to life in the same ragged breath. How many times? Too many. And none of them have ever been right. Look at this year, look 5 years, 10 years, 20 years back. Rock is rebellion, rock is pure eff you attitude, rock is refusal to be labeled, dead, alive, whatever.
Look back as far as you want--rock music thrives off being the anti. But look at the year 1965 if you want to get a historical frame of perspective—so many songs that would be exemplars for what was to come, and what the rest of rock ‘n roll history would always have to live up to came out in one simple year. It’s hard to believe. It’s a bit of magic, and with that kind of mojo working in it's favor, you have to admit, rock ‘n roll has got all the odds beat, and while it might go through fits and spurts and change its appearance, maybe get a little silly, a little bitchy, and little funny at times, might even need a smack to set it right, it will never die.
Not with this kind of pedigree…
Rather than linger any longer on this sermon I present a small sampling of a few of the sacred verses from that blessed year, of 1965. Imagine hearing these songs for the first time? Did those kids have any idea of the history making moment they were listening to?
Dominus Ominous, pass the wine, hit the chords, turn it up, Long live rock…
In 1965, The Who released I Can't Explain, from their debut, My Generation. Power chords and madman drummers. The Who is rock 'n roll. pure, simple. Rock 'n roll.
Bob Dylan abandoned his acoustic, to a very well-documented collective howl of betrayal from his folk-purist fans and put out Highway 61 Revisited . the lead track? "Like a Rolling Stone What else can you say? Nothing has been the same since.
The Tracks of My Tears, by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles has always been one of my favorites. Immortalized in Oliver Stone’s Platoon, “Tracks” is soul at it’s best: smooth vocal harmony, bittersweet lamentation, pure groove, all all right.
Van Morrison defined badass cool so much better, and earlier, than anyone else with his band, Them. Baby Please Don't Go" still sounds like the toughest tough guy you know showing just a little bit of vulnerability in the face of losing the hottest girl you’ve ever know. Or wish you did. Switchblades included with purchase of this 45.
("I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones. Seriously. If you don’t understand the absolute holy place this Keith Richard’s riff holds in the very echelon of rock’s greatest, absolutely greatest, moments, than you’ve missed the whole point. A few notes, a bit of fuzz, and everything—EVERYTHING—changed. Amazing what a hard snare-driver beat, a thumping base, and repeating riff can do to stir the soul of a few million kids looking for a brand new way to give the finger to the generation before, and the one to come.
Oh yeah, and there was also this little group called The Beatles. They released a lot of music between 1964 and 1965. Help, Ticket to Ride, Eight Days a Week—The Beatles. What else can you say?
Rubber Soul…Released December 3, 1965. One of the greatest pop/rock albums ever recorded. Nice way to end one of the greatest years rock will ever know…
1965—what would rock be without it?