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.
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
Why Don’t We Do It In the Road
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
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)
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.