Yearly Mix, Part I


The Early Years. Or, Everything Before I Was Born

About a year ago I started to create a mix where every track represented a single year. The basic self-imposed rules were to only include studio albums (no live recordings or best-of collections), and generally use the official US release date (which these days is easy, but even the Beatles early releases were a hodge podge of different dates, names, and tracks). I gave preference to iconic songs and albums, but also tried to include variety so the list isn't spammed with a single artist (although of course some will show up more than once). Lastly, since it's my mix I picked songs I like. My sources were a combination of my personal collection, my site (, and Wikipedia.

Since it covers a wide range that I could talk about for days, I'll be breaking it up over at least a couple of posts. If you're curious/hate waiting, you can see the full list Yearly Mix (

If it seems like I'm skipping Elvis, Sinatra, and various other early artists, I am. I don't think they're horrible, I just don't care enough to include them here. So it goes.

From the Dawn of Time Until Apollo

I have some albums in my collection that pre-date this list; big band, early blues, etc. For sake of effort I'm basically leaping ahead to 1959, but even then I'll be skipping a couple of early years in the 1960s because… well… limited options. If you'd like to propose songs for years I'm completely missing, please send me a note. All that said, let's begin!

  1. 1959 – Dave Brubeck – Time Out – Take Five
  2. 1960 – John Coltrane – Giant Steps – Giant Steps
  3. 1963 – Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Girl From the North Country
  4. 1964 – The Beatles – A Hard Day's Night – A Hard Day’s Night
  5. 1965 – The Beatles – Help! – I’ve Just Seen a Face
  6. 1966 – Beach Boys – Pet Sounds – Wouldn’t It Be Nice
  7. 1967 – Thelonious Monk – Straight, No Chaser – Locomotive
  8. 1968 – Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland – Voodoo Child (slight return)
  9. 1969 – Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin – Dazed and Confused

The range of music styles in the 1960s is pretty amazing. Jazz was strong throughout, but the rise of folk, rock, and then hard rock towards the end of the decade are fun to review over such a short time period. Jazz was still “pop” music early on, so those lead the way on the mix. I don't have anything listed at the moment for ‘61 or ‘62, but part of the reason is I'm working out where to put “Stand By Me”, which was out as a single in ‘61 and on an album in ‘62.

Continuing on, early Dylan and then the Beatles take over. While it can easily be argued the later Beatles albums were more complex and interesting, those later tracks have a lot more competition in regards to this mix. I thought it'd be fun to include their “competition” with the Beach Boys (the movie from a few years ago that covers this album is well worth a stream). Then, a track from one of my favorite jazz albums of all time, “Straight, No Chaser”.

As the tail end of the decade arrived, the music landscape certainly changed. Hendrix's “Voodoo Child” is simply one of my favorite songs of all time. And this is five years after Dylan's acoustic styling wowed the musical landscape! The following year is a little Led Zeppelin “Dazed and Confused”, which I'd find myself humming even though I didn't own the album until a year or two ago. Apparently hearing it on the radio for two decades growing up helped with the memory.

The  Initial Leftovers

Since I'm picking a single song per year, there are certainly other worthwhile tracks (or whole albums) to consider. So while these weren't chosen for my mix, they're certainly worth listening to many times over. I'll also note debut albums from noteworthy bands, sometimes because the album is great and other times just to note the overlap of very different music existing in the same time. Album names are listed as is, while song names are in quotes.

  • 1963 – The Beatles first two albums
  • 1964 – Dylan's 3rd album (first with all original songs). More Beatles, aside from chosen track. Blame the record label, they were clueless (and then released as much as possible). Rolling Stones’ debut, Simon & Garfunkel's debut
  • 1965 – Coltrane's A Love Supreme, Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage, more Dylan (twice), The Who's debut, more Beatles, aside from chosen track.
  • 1966 – James Brown's “I Got You (I Feel Good)", Simon & Garfunkel (twice), Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, Beatles’ Revolver, The Monkees’ debut, Cream's debut
  • 1967 – The Doors’ debut, Aretha Franklin's awesome recording of “Respect”, Grateful Dead's debut, Jimi Hendrix's first two albums, David Bowie's debut, Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper's, Pink Floyd's debut, Doors’ Strange Days, Arlo Guthrie's “Alice's Restaurant Massacree”, Van Morrison's debut, Cream's Disraeli Gears, Leonard Cohen's debut. Feels like worth noting there was also a “greatest hits” for Dylan, ha!
  • 1968 – Doors’ Waiting for the Sun, Cream's Wheels of Fire, Muddy Waters’ Electric Mud, Neil Young's debut, Beatles’ White Album
  • 1969 – Blind Faith album, Santana's debut, Nick Drake's debut, more Beatles (twice), Led Zeppelin II, Allman Brothers Band's debut, Jackson 5's debut, Sly & the Family Stone's Stand!, Who's Tommy, The Meters’ first two albums

From Hippies To Me

  1. 1970 – Santana – Abraxas – Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen
  2. 1971 – Billy Joel – Cold Spring Harbor – She's Got a Way
  3. 1972 – Nick Drake – Pink Moon – Know
  4. 1973 – Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  5. 1974 – Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness’ First Finale – Boogie on Reggae Woman
  6. 1975 – Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run – Thunder Road
  7. 1976 – Billy Joel – Turnstiles – New York State of Mind

The music I largely grew up on, in no small part due to having older brothers. The only exception on the list is Nick Drake, whom I discovered decades later on my own. Overall, this decade is probably the strongest and least personal; if you don't like these songs, there's probably something wrong with you and I'll think you're unamerican. And not in a good way. These are all iconic songs that everyone should know. And to pile on, if you don't celebrate them I really wonder what's going on inside your noggin’!

The Later Leftovers

  • 1970 – Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge over Troubled Water, Black Sabbath's first two albums, Funkadelic's debut, Parliament's debut, Van Morrison's Moondance, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Elton John's debut US album, The Beatles’ last studio album (and solo albums by everyone later in the year), Jackson 5's ABC, Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, Eric Clapton's solo debut, Led Zeppelin III, Nick Drake's Bryter Layter
  • 1971 – Janis Joplin's Pearl, Doors’ L.A. Woman, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, John Lennon's Imagine, Led Zeppelin IV, Don McLean's song “American Pie”
  • 1972 – Paul Simon's self-titled solo album, Eagles’ debut, Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, Stealers Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle with You”, Carly Simon's song “You're So Vain”
  • 1973 – Springsteen's first two albums, Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zep's Houses of the Holy, Tom Waits’ Closing Time, Eagles’ Desperado, Queen's debut, Stevie Wonder's Innervisions, Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On, Kool & the Gang's song “Jungle Boogie”, Barry White's song “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up”,  Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Bob Marley's Burnin’, Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters, Who's Quadrophenia, Steve Miller Band's Joker, Billy Joel's Piano Man, Wings’ Band on the Run
  • 1974 – Billy Joel's Streetlife Serenade, Bob Marley's Natty Dread, Rush's debut
  • 1975 – Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Led Zep's Physical Graffiti, KC and the Sunshine Band's self-titled album, Fleetwood Mac's self-titled album, Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, Queen's A Night at the Opera
  • 1976 – Ramones’ debut, Led Zep's Presence, Rush's 2112, Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, Tom Petty's debut, Eagles’ Hotel California

That's it for now. The next round will certainly finish off the 70s (and that glorious year of 1977) as well as the somewhat-sketchy 80s. Depending on feedback I'll either finish things off to the present, or go into more detail and break it up into an additional post. If you care, let me know, otherwise my whims shall dictate all.

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