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A Little Help From My Friends?

 Imagine you’re the DJ for a monster party celebrating your crazy life during the 1960s – the Beatles and Stones, the summer of love, the Vietnam War. What 100 songs would you play to bring it all back home? I’ve started the list below – tell me what hits I’m missing?

The background, and a few rules: In 2011, Peace Corps celebrates its 50th Anniversary since JFK  launched it back in 1961. I served as a Volunteer in Thailand (1969-1972) during the Vietnam War along with 73 others. We’re feverishly planning a big bash in DC for the July 4th weekend, and I’ve decided to create an iTunes playlist to drive the party. The rules: 1) Stick to rock from 1965-1972. It covers the Vietnam War through our Thailand Peace Corps experience. OK OK, so I start with the Fifties – that’s because I was 25 when I finally landed in Bangkok, and I’m the DJ, so I can do what I damn well please. 2) Like Tom Hanks says in the 1985 film Volunteers, skip the hootenanny. We want loud, driving stuff we can dance to. Yeah, I know, Leonard Cohen and James Taylor made the cut, but rules are made to be broken. Didn’t you live through the Sixties? At least I didn’t include any whiny downers from Bob Dylan. 3) The night ends with the Beatles. Get over it, Stones fans.

The Playlist

Rock Around the Clock (Bill Haley)  – It started everything
Don’t Be Cruel (Elvis Presley) – women are cruel, that’s what you learn in high school
Whole Lot of Shaking Going On (Jerry Lee Lewis) – did he really marry his 15 year old cousin?
Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins)
Be Bop a Lula (Gene Vincent) – Because I used to sing it to Judy Crofut in grade school
Poison Ivy (The Coasters)
Peggy Sue (Buddy Holly) –I wanted to be a drummer.
That’ll Be the Day (Crickets) – sometimes they do leave you. But you get over it.
Louie Louie (Paul Revere and the Raiders)
La Bamba (Richie Valens)
Money –That’s What I Want (Backbeat Band) – If you haven’t seen the 1994 film Backbeat, jeez, do.
Long Tall Sally
Twist and Shout
Good Golly Miss Molly
I Want to Hold Your Hand (Beatles) – the Brits arrive and American teenage girls pee and faint.
Can’t Buy Me Love
Ticket to Ride
Hard Day’s Night – If you haven’t seen the 1964 Richard Lester Beatles B/W film, shame on you.
Good Day Sunshine
I’m a Believer (Monkees) – I’m embarrassed to add this
I Dig Rock & Roll (Peter, Paul and Mary) – the desperate reinvention of a folk group
Satisfaction (Rolling Stones)
19th Nervous Breakdown
Let’s Spend the Night Together – what every boy wanted to do
Can’t Always get What You Want – things get darker as the Sixties roll on
Jumping Jack Flash
Street Fighting Man – Jagger fantasized about joining the street protests, but didn’t.
Gimme Shelter –  1968, Altamont, Hell’s Angels and the death of idealism
Sympathy for the Devil – Button in Greenwich Village: Jesus Saves Green Stamps
Honky Tonk Woman – anthem of the Bangkok bar girls.
A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procul Harem)
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Beatles) – the best rock album of all times?
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
A Day in the Life – the best rock song ever composed
Back in the USSR
Obla-dee Obla-daa
Why Don’t We Do It In the Road
Revolution 1
Savoy Truffle.
They Say It’s Your Birthday
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide – ‘cept for me and my monkey
Helter Skelter – blasting, driving, screaming, intense, mind-numbing
Hey Jude
Little Help from my Friends (Joe Cocker) – Spastic Joe at Woodstock redefined the song
She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
Bird on a Wire – Cocker’s bluesiest blue
Get Together (Indigo Girls)
Drift Away (Judson Spence)
Marrakesh Express (Crosby Stills Nash & Young)
Helplessly Hoping
Judy Blue Eyes
Teach Your Children
Long Time Coming
Take it Easy (Eagles)
Take It to the Limit – one more time
Sweet Baby James (James Taylor) – I dare you to leave this song off the list
Crocodile Rock (Elton John)
Benny and the Jets – because it’s so much fun singing “Buh-buh-buh-Benny…”
Suzanne (Judy Collins)
So Long Maryanne (Leonard Cohen)
Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye – Got to wrap our party up somehow
Peace Train (Ritchie Havens) – Vietnam War ends 1975
When I’m 64 (Beatles) – Are we there yet? For better or for worse, yes.
All You Need is Love – Never been truer.

7 Comment count
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Great list, Michael ...

... but where are Aretha Franklin, the Beach Boys, the Supremes, the Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, and on and on? Elton John? Peter, Paul & Mary? Not so sure!

Thanks - it takes me back, now that I'm 64.


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To everything, turn, turn turn...

Aloha Barbara: That was a quick response -- this being the eve of Christmas Eve. I thought everybody would be wrapping presents. I like your suggestions. OK, your turn -- for each of the groups I forgot, give me one song (the most danceable, in your estimation), and I'll add them to the list. Thanks, and may we all have someone who still needs us, and who still feeds us, when we're 64. Merry Christmas from Hawaii!

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Hey, Mike -- no Dylan!!!

Hey, Mike -- no Dylan!!! (Without Dylan, you have no '60s. I better send you my article on how he changed the world.) And unless I missed them in my scan I didn't see much Motown or Memphis. (And way too many Beatles for this boy.) Was Janis on there? the Dead? the Airplane? Jesse Colin Young? Oy! Oy! Oy! If i didn't have a deadline to meet, I'd give you more. Still, it sounds like a great party. And happy holidays!

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Dancin' to Dylan?

Bob: I know, I know, but our gang wants to boogie, and I couldn't come up with a hard rock danceable Dylan. Same with Janis -- I love "Me and Bobbie Magee," and "Take another little piece of my heart," but how do you dance to them? Help me out with a few suggestions when the holidays are over. You and Adele have a Happy Holiday!

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Okay, you're on ...

... I'm not busy now, but I'm never too busy to dance!

- Aretha Franklin's Respect
- Beach Boys' Little Deuce Coupe
- Supremes' You Can't Hurry Love
- Mamas & Papas' California Dreamin'
- Simon & Garfunkel's Cecelia
- The Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man

Of course, it's hard to pick one from those artists, but I gave it my best shot.



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How could I miss Cecilia?

Barbara: Great suggestions. Consider them added.
From my clock, it looks like Santa should be arriving very soon in Nova Scotia (we get him last -- or almost last, if you count Guam). Thanks for the help and have a Happy New Year! Gotta wrap the final presents.
PS: I like your Year in Review advice. Keep writing.

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Jimi? The Doors? The Allman

Jimi? The Doors? The Allman Brothers? Take enough drugs and you can dance to anything.