Why do the songs of the 1960s still have such a dominant hold on our collective aural memories, even for those of us too young to have heard them when they were new? There are a few clues in Pitchfork’s newly completed list of the 200 best songs of the ’60s. Which, by the way, is a pretty well-thought out compilation, so far as these massive, arbitrary lists go.
It’s not all peace, love, flowers, and Motown chirpiness, though there are plenty of those elements on the list. It’s also about dread, horror, regret, and loss of innocence. (Look at the top 20, which includes such anthems of paranoia, frustration, and unresolved longings as ”God Only Knows,” ”A Day in the Life,” ”Like a Rolling Stone, ” I Can’t Explain,” and ”Gimme Shelter.” Even the Jackson 5’s exuberant ”I Want You Back,” featuring a weirdly mature and rueful 11-year-old lead singer, is a desperate plea for ”one more chance.”)
I can’t wait to see a similar Pitchfork take on the maligned songwriting eras known as the 1970s and ’80s. Meanwhile, you can find MP3s of all 200 songs on this list here.