“Not my generation, but my muse.”
From 1960 to 1969 was a decade of soulful music that may not have defined my generation, but I love it nonetheless. For me, being born in the 1980’s, 1960 was the year my mother was born. From the sounds of Ray Charles singing hits like Georgia On My Mind, a state that he refused to play a concert because of the Jim Crow laws of the south. A move that created tension toward him for years to come. But was it all about the Jim Crow south? No, because the year 1961 brought hits like Etta James, At Last. A love song that anyone who has been hit by cupid’s arrow can relate to. And that same year Ray Charles would return with yet another hit song, Hit The Road Jack. A track that spans just over two minutes, but sends a powerful message to it’s listeners.
And in the same year of 1961 who could forget Ben E. King’s hit song, Stand By Me. Which just over twenty years later would carry the title of a 1980’s cult classic movie. Starring River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, John Cusack, and Wil Wheaton. The next year in 1962 kept the hits coming as Ray Charles reemerged, this time with three hit tracks: I Can’t Stop Loving You, You Don’t Know Me, and Your Cheatin Heart. But in 1963, not only was a year in music, but the year president John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Such a heartfelt year brought joy, love, and sadness with the Shirelles, Foolish Little Girl. And who can forget in 1963 Heat Wave by Martha and The Vandellas. Then the following year 1964 came around with yet another tragedy. This time Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
Even with the tragedy, music kept being pumped out that year. Like The Four Tops, Baby I need your Loving, The Temptations with The Way You Do The Things You Do, The Supremes with Baby Love and Come See About Me, and Martha and The Vandellas returned with Dancing In The Streets. As with the groups, we saw Mary Wells come with the hit some My Guy and James Brown’s Please, Please, Please. Feeling the love of the 1960’s continued on into 1965 with songs like Sam Cooke’s Change Is Gonna Come. This hit song has been replayed and remastered in numerous television shows, films, and theatre plays; adding to Sam Cooke’s already hit catalog. But you can’t talk great music of 1965 without including Marvin Gaye’s Aint That Peculiar and How Sweet It Is, The Four Tops Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, and James Brown I Feel Good and Poppa’s Got A Brand New Bag
That same year The Temptations brought us My Girl. Yet another song that would be the inspirational song behind a Hollywood movie. Starring Macaulay Culkin, Anna Chlumsky, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Dan Aykroyd. Meanwhile Martha and The Vandellas reminded us there’s Nowhere to Run and Nowhere To Hide adding to their catalog of hits. But let’s not forget Jr. Walker and The All Stars with Shotgun. As the we rounded past the mid 1960’s headed into the year 1966 hits continued to flow. Stevie Wonder let us know not to be “Uptight” cause everything’s going to be alright and Blowing In The Wind as Sam and Dave told us to Hold On, I’m Coming. As the year 1967 came we saw music from Aretha Franklin who taught us the value in be Respected and Natural Woman. As Jackie Wilson told us to reach Higher and Higher. The same year Sam and Dave gave us Soul Man.
1967 kept on with Gladys Knight and The Pips I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles I Second That Emotion. The year of 1968 was off to yet another emotional round-block as two leaders were assassinated: Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hard to believe music could keep coming. But it commenced with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell with Aint Nothing Like The Real Thing,James Brown’s Say It Loud and I Got The Feeling, Otis Redding’s On The Dock Of The Bay. Then to round out the decade Marvin Gaye gave us his version of Heard It Through The Grapevine. We were also introduced to the Jackson 5 with I Want You Back. Throughout this decade there were highs and lows, but the music is what kept it all together. Above all, entertainment remained strong going into the 1970’s.