August 1967 Spawned An Embarrassment Of Musical Riches, Like These 18 Gems

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If you were listening to the radio in August 1967, you were enjoying a steady diet of new songs destined to become all-time classics. It was of course the Summer of Love, and the world felt like it was changing on a daily basis. The incredible array of brilliant music on the day’s pop chart reflected just about everything you needed to know about the ongoing social and cultural transition. These songs and their chart positions are taken from the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending August 19, 1967. Just imagine what it was like having them all pour out of your radio for the first time, one after another. It would somehow affect you forever.

 

    • 1 Light My Fire – The Doors

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The Doors had their own take on The Summer Of Love and it was obviously a lot more subversive than The Beatles’ version. Also, this was one of the first instances when preferring an album version of a song made you cooler.

 

      1. All You Need Is Love – The Beatles

The Mop Tops were now wild and bearded and pouring it on, releasing their Love Anthem just one month after unleashing Sgt. Pepper on the planet.

 

      1. I Was Made To Love Her – Stevie Wonder

Little Stevie was developing into a brilliant singer-songwriter right before our eyes. This track’s hybrid pop/soul/rock arrangement, complete with electric sitar, was already claiming new sonic territory.

 

      1. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy – The Buckinghams

The song was a surprise hit as a jazz instrumental by Cannonball Adderley in 1966, and this was the age of experimental crossover, so the Bucks added their own lyrics and still gave complete writing credit to jazz keyboard legend Joe Zawinul.

 

      1. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Frankie Valli

Valli saw himself rivalling The Beatles in 1964, but by 1967 Tom Jones or Johnny Mathis were more realistic targets. This was more than a comeback, this was a re-invention, thanks mostly to the epic songwriting effort of Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio.

 

      1. A Whiter Shade Of Pale – Procol Harum

This song really struck a nerve in an entire generation, which was ultimately bad news for Procol Harum because it ended up overshadowing all the brilliant things they did after it.

 

      1. Carrie Anne – The Hollies

Graham Nash wrote it about Marianne Faithful but was “too shy” to use her real name. The real hero is whoever thought to put steel drums on a rock’n’roll record.

 

      1. Baby I Love You – Aretha Franklin

You can’t have a snapshot of radio in 1967 without including Aretha on it somewhere.

 

      1. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

Little did anyone realize that Grace Slick was laying down a vocal performance for the ages.

 

      1. Soul Finger – The Bar-Kays

Rock was borrowing heavily from Soul and R&B, but people forget that the borrowing went the other way too. I always loved Jimmy King’s sweet subtle guitar solo. Sadly, the mighty Bar-Kays perished on Otis Redding’s plane in December that year.

 

      1. Ode To Billy Joe – Bobbie Gentry

In the cities they were wearing flowers in their hair, but back in the heartland they were tossin’em off bridges. This eerie rustic mystery yarn somehow dovetailed with the hippie vibe.

 

      1. San Francisco – Scott McKenzie

There are still plenty of people in motion, all across the nation, but nowadays they’re mostly just working on their abs and glutes.

 

      1. Heroes And Villains – The Beach Boys

Sure, it’s overproduced, self-indulgent and lyrically obscure, and its failure was the last straw pushing Brian Wilson over the edge, but wow, it’s still pretty remarkable.

 

      1. Fakin’ It – Simon & Garfunkel

You knew shit was getting real crazy when even Simon & Garfunkel were going psychedelic, and pulling it off as well as this, even if they did rip off “Strawberry Fields Forever” in the opening and closing riffs.

 

      1. San Franciscan Nights – Eric Burden and the Animals

I’ll leave it to someone even more nerdy than me to determine if this was the only time two different songs with the same city in their titles charted at the same time. I’m guessing yes it was.

 

      1. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

Simply one of the most beloved songs in Rock history, and for good reason: it’s got the best sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-de-da of all time.

 

      1. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher – Jackie Wilson

As if everyone wasn’t high enough on Love already, Jackie Wilson went where the air gets thinner and harder to breathe, and you got a little dizzier.

 

      1. The Letter – The Box Tops

This one was a new release in August, and in a few weeks time it would reach number one. And the hits just keep on coming.

 

Other Great Songs On The Chart That Week:

4. Pleasant Valley Sunday – The Monkees
8. Windy – The Association
10. A Girl Like You – The Rascals
16. Little Bit O’ Soul – The Music Explosion
19. Thank The Lord For The Night Time – Neil Diamond
20. Cold Sweat – James Brown
22. To Love Somebody – The Bee Gees
26. Up – Up And Away – The 5th Dimension
31. Come On Down To My Boat – Every Mothers’ Son
34. Baby You’re A Rich Man – The Beatles
61. Reflections – Diana Ross & The Supremes
62. Gentle On My Mind – Glen Campbell
63. Bluebird – Buffalo Springfield
84. There Is a Mountain – Donovan

Photo: By Elektra Records (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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