On this unofficial holiday of things groovy and far out, we’ve compiled a list of some late sixties rock classics that blew the collective minds of an earlier generation.
9. “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane
Short and unidirectional, “White Rabbit” is a 1967 hit song by Jefferson Airplane. The lyrics tell an altered version of Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass, while the song’s title is a tribute to counterculture era-figure, Owsley Stanley.
Buy Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane
8. “21st Century Schizoid Man” by King Crimson
A mixture between jazz, psychedelia, and heavy metal, “21st Century Schizoid Man” is a breakthrough musical piece by King Crimson. Lyrically, Peter Sinfield used clever, loosely connected phrases to construct a puzzle to match the song’s provocative title.
Listen to “21st Century Schizoid Man”:
Classic Rock Review of In the Court of the Crimson King
Buy In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson
7. “Astronomy Domine” by Pink Floyd
“Lime and limpid green, a second scene, a fight between the blue you once knew / Floating down, the sound resounds around the icy waters underground…”
So starts the first song on the first album by Pink Floyd. Vocally, the song was presented like a Gregorian chant by composer Syd Barrett, while the space-influenced music perfectly matches the “far out” theme of those lyrics.
Listen to “Astronomy Domine”:
Classic Rock Review of The Piper At the Gates of Dawn
Buy The Piper At the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd
6. “Legend of a Mind” by Moody Blues
“Timothy Leary’s dead, no, no he’s outside looking in…”
“Legend of a Mind” by Moody Blues provides explicit reference to 1960s LSD icon Timothy Leary, the man who coined the catchphrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Beyond this, the extended track also refers to Eastern philosophy by citing works such as The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Listen to “Legend of a Mind”:
Classic Rock Review of In Search of the Lost Chord
Buy In Search of the Lost Chord by Moody Blues
5. “Can’t Find My Way Home” by Blind Faith
“And I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home…”
Written by Steve Winwood, “Can’t Find My Way Home” is one of the more indelible tracks by the short-lived super-group Blind Faith. With subtle picked acoustic and innovative percussion adding to the vibe, Winwood’s lyrics brings the listener on a somber, mellow journey.
Listen to “Can’t Find My Way Home”:
Classic Rock Review of Blind Faith
Buy Blind Faith
4. “Not to Touch the Earth” by The Doors
“Dead Presidents’ corpse in the driver’s car, the engine runs on glue and tar, come on along, not going very far, to the East to meet the Czar…”
“Not to Touch the Earth” was the only surviving part of the studio version of The Doors extended poem “The Celebration of the Lizard”. Written by Jim Morrison, the song consistently builds into a frenzy reminiscent of a Native American, shaman-led ritual.
Listen to “Not to Touch the Earth”:
Classic Rock Review of Waiting For the Sun
Buy Waiting For the Sun by The Doors
3. “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix Experience
“Excuse me while I kiss the sky…”
“Purple Haze” is one of Jimi Hendrix‘s most popular songs and was many listeners’ introduction into the brilliant talent and approach of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This opening track from Hendrix’s debut album was a surprise worldwide hit in 1967 and has since been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Classic Rock Review of Are You Experienced?
Buy Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix Experience
2. “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles
“Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream, it is not dying, it is not dying / Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void, it is shining, it is shining…”
While John Lennon‘s lyrics are often cited as the genius behind the 1966 psychedelic breakthrough “Tomorrow Never Knows”, the real force on this Beatles‘ album closer from Revolver is Ringo Starr. Not only does he provide the unique drum pattern which holds the effect-laden song together, but Starr actually coined the term (during a 1964 BBC interview) which gave this classic song its title.
Listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows”:
Classic Rock Review of Revolver
Buy Revolver by The Beatles
1. “Dazed and Confused” by Led Zeppelin
While Jimmy Page fully admits that he stole this song from singer-songwriter Jake Holmes, the true genius of this recording falls more within the production and arrangement than the core composition (although that certainly works to enhance the affect). During the summer of 1967, Holmes opened for The Yardbirds in Greenwich Village, New York City. Over the course of the next year and a half, as The Yardbirds morphed into The New Yardbirds and ultimately Led Zeppelin, Page used “Dazed and Confused” as a canvas to showcase his bowed guitar technique, as well as an extended jam piece for the whole group live.
Listen to “Dazed and Confused”:
Classic Rock Review of Led Zeppelin I
Buy Led Zeppelin I
“Mr. Tambourine Man” Bob Dylan
“Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf
“Journey to the Center of Your Mind” by Asbury Dukes
Of course, this is pure subjective opinion and we’re sure there are many songs which we’ve neglected that would fit right in this list. Please add your comments below to tell us what you like or don’t like about our list.
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