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Monday, October 13, 2008

The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s


Story by Pitchfork Staff

People always ask: "When is Pitchfork gonna run a list of the top albums of the 1960s?" The answer today? Probably never. Not that we didn't consider it. It's just that when we sat down to map it all out, we found it would be more rewarding to approach the decade through its songs instead. After all, it was by and large a single-oriented era-- the long-player didn't really take over as a creative medium until the 60s had nearly come to an end. And besides, Revolver's ego is out of hand as it is.

So today, we kick off the largest feature in Pitchfork history, a five-day trip through the first full decade of the pop/rock era. From today until Friday, we'll roll out the 200 songs that most resonate with a generation too young to have experienced the decade firsthand, but old enough to know it had more to offer than "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction".

Of course, we recognize that even at 200 tracks, our list leaves off hundreds of other fantastic and amazing songs-- not to mention a handful of cuts from the Baby Boomer canon that our staff doesn't much care for (hello, "Light My Fire"!). But if nothing else, we at least limited the maximum number of tracks per artist to five so that, say, the 14th most popular Beach Boys song (probably "Vega-Tables" or some such) wouldn't bump off more deserving tracks from less iconic artists. So let's waste no time counting off the first 50...

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200. The Kinks: "Sunny Afternoon"
(Ray Davies)
1966
Chart info: U.S. (#14), UK (#1)
Available on Face to Face

While already rightly revered as bratty garage rockers by the time of this track's release, the Kinks truly excelled when singer Ray Davies took a more observational, wry approach to songwriting-- and "Sunny Afternoon" is one of his wriest on record. As the song's ground-down, sadsack narrator, Davies sounds utterly exhausted by the task of telling his miserable tale, backed by a descending chromatic bassline that nearly flatlines by song's end. --Adam Moerder

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199. Nina Simone: "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair"
(Traditional)
1964
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Anthology

The famous Celtic ballad begins with a lustful list of physical attributes-- a true love's hair, face, eyes, and hands-- but Nina Simone's voice is less than interested in the material world. She emits a spectral trill, as confident and crestfallen as a death-row inmate. Even the skeletal piano feels too heavy for Simone's vaporous devotion. --Alex Linhardt

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198. Dionne Warwick: "Walk On By"
(Burt Bacharach/Hal David)
1964
Chart info: U.S. (#6), UK (#9)
Available on The Very Best of Dionne Warwick

People talk about "perfect pop" and I generally have no idea what they're talking about. "Walk On By" is perfect pop, though, in the strictest sense: not a hair is out of place, no smudged eyeliner, nothing to taint its inherent loveliness. Any Bacharach/Warwick collaboration is a pick hit to click, but this is the most famous for a reason. Poised to the brink of formality, the song moves with the utterly unhurried grace of a woman in a ball gown. Perfect composure is one way to keep the tears inside, after all. -- Jess Harvell

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197. Charles Mingus: "Solo Dancer"
(Charles Mingus)
1963
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is regularly cited as a masterpiece of jazz orchestration, but that hardly accounts for the sheer fury of Mingus' creativity. "Solo Dancer" is like a jazz diagram of the psyche or a chronology of the 20th century: a swarming assembly of neon alto, cracked trumpets, chromatic discord, and prolonged lyricism. --Alex Linhardt

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196. Irma Thomas: "Time Is on My Side"
(Norman Meade/Jerry Ragovoy)
1964
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Sweet Soul Queen of New Orleans: The Irma Thomas Collection

Though Thomas is widely acknowledged as the Soul Queen of Nola, I've always thought she never got a fair shake (e.g. neither "Ruler of My Heart" nor "Don't Mess With My Man" made this list). The Rolling Stones eventually made this song a smash, but all they did was jack Thomas' steez in full, changing nary a note, save one small thing: They could never belt like her. -- Sean Fennessey

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195. James Brown: "Night Train (Live at the Apollo)"
(Jimmy Forrest/Lewis Simpkins/Oscar Washington)
1963
Chart info: U.S. (#35), UK (N/A)
Available on Live at the Apollo

Sure, the official version (released in 1962) moves and grooves just fine, especially with Brown doing double duty on the mic and on the drums. But compared to what's on Live at the Apollo, it's doing the standing still. On the greatest stage in the world, Mr. Star Time goes up and down the eastern seaboard in record time, shouting out the stops the train ain't stopping at, while the band throws more and more coal into the engine. --David Raposa

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194. The Foundations: "Build Me Up Buttercup"
(Michael d'Abo/Tony Macaulay)
1968
Chart info: U.S. (#3), UK (#2)
Available on Baby Now That You've Found Me

This is the stuff mixtapes are made of: an infectiously catchy melody that sugarcoats a protagonist's romantic plight, and lyrics that instantaneously connect with red-blooded love birds. The Foundations' career may have burned short and hot, but their pop chops and puppy-dog pathos remain timeless. --Adam Moerder

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193. Johnny and June Carter Cash: "Jackson"
(Gaby Rogers)
1967
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on The Essential Johnny Cash

About a haranguing wife that, in the fourth verse, transforms into a creature far more badass than her "big talkin'" husband, "Jackson" puts to song the time-honored tradition of doing crazy things to fix a crazy relationship. The story is almost as romantic as that of the two lovers who sing it. --Zach Baron

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192. Alton Ellis: "I'm Still in Love With You"
(Alton Ellis)
1967
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Studio One Story

With Alton Ellis crying eternal affection above a gentle, stuttering riddim, this is the perfect starry-eyed Jamaican wedding song, right? Not quite. "You don't know how to love me, not even how to kiss me-- I just don't know why…" he sneaks in, slyly mixing tragedy in with the love-drunk refrain. Unrequited love has rarely seemed so tantalizing. --Ryan Dombal

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191. The Cannonball Adderley Quintet: "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"
(Joe Zawinul)
1966
Chart info: U.S. (#11), UK (N/A)
Available on Mercy, Mercy, Mercy: Live at "The Club"

It wasn't really recorded at "The Club"-- that was just a trick to get some publicity for a new venue on Chicago's South Side. Instead, Adderley got some friends together in the studio and plied them with drinks while the band cut this bit of surging, euphoric gospel. Every whoop, though, is true and from the heart. --Mark Richardson

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190. Leonard Cohen: "So Long, Marianne"
(Leonard Cohen)
1968
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on The Songs of Leonard Cohen

"So Long, Marianne”'s acoustic strum and weepy concertina crank up once Cohen weighs his conflicting desires for shelter and freedom, establishing a recursive loop of lamentation and joy. Love is a filament of web binding him to a ledge-- stronger than its fragile appearance would imply; it's easier stretched than severed. --Brian Howe
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189. The Sonics: "Strychnine"
(Gerry Roslie)
1965
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Here Are the Sonics

A song about drinking rat poison and liking it more than either water or wine. Garage-rock proto-punks the Sonics-- without their raw fuzzed-buzz and Gerry Roslie's roll'n'roll howl-- played rock that couldn't help but shock and awe. --Zach Baron

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188. Tyrannosaurus Rex: "Debora"
(Marc Bolan)
1968
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (#34)
Available on The Definitive Tyrannosaurus Rex

Pre-glam, pre-T. Rex Marc Bolan recorded this hand-drummed Lord of the Rings Brit folk spasmodica. Among other things, it's another great example of Bolan's unmistakable influence on Devendra Banhart and the Hairy Fairy crew. The jumpy verbal string of "Dug a re dug n dug a re dug re dug" and lines like "O Debora, always dress like a conjurer/ It's fine to see your young face hiding/ ‘Neath the stallion that I'm riding" confirm why Bolan named his book of poetry a very Danzig sounding, The Warlock of Love. But really, he's Donovan with chops. --Brandon Stosuy

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187. The Walker Brothers: "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"
(Bob Crewe/Bob Gaudio)
1966
Chart info: U.S. (#13), UK (#1)
Available on After the Lights Go Out

Before Scott Walker was a shivery avant-gardist, he was a shivery crooner pinup, and this spaghetti Western anthem was his band's biggest hit. Like the Righteous Brothers by way of the Free Design and Ennio Morricone, this was light years away from his current coordinates, but no less cinematic. --Mark Pytlik

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186. The Hollies: "Bus Stop"
(Graham Gouldman)
1966
Chart info: U.S. (#5), UK (#5)
Available on 30th Anniversary Collection 1963-1993

Never mind that "Bus Stop" evokes a gentler counterculture in which the youth of the nation enacted mating rituals-- attraction, pairing, commitment-- underneath a pedestrian umbrella. From the first sprinkles of acoustic guitar to the stormcloud minor-chords, from the desperate harmonies of the chorus to the sweet idea of falling in love out of the rain, this Hollies hit is all hook. --Stephen M. Deusner

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185. The Temptations: "Get Ready"
(Smokey Robinson)
1966
Chart info: U.S. (#29), UK (#10)
Available on The Ultimate Collection

On the verses, "Get Ready" is a tense and unforgiving stomper, but the chorus turns the song into a sweeping drama, a transcendent whoop of joy-- and throughout it all, Eddie Kendricks' angelic falsetto floats overhead like a balloon caught in a gust of wind. --Tom Breihan

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184. James Brown: "Mother Popcorn (You Got to Have a Mother for Me)"
(James Brown/Pee Wee Ellis)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (#11), UK (N/A)
Available on Star Time

No words can describe this song's throbbing physicality better than the singer's own "Jump back baby, James Brown's gonna do his thing." That "thing" involves a hysterical performance that switches from a sexualized grunt to a bizarre, high-pitched whine without warning. And with a horn chart snaking around a squirmy guitar line, Brown's band does its thing, too. --Stephen M. Deusner

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183. Bobby Darin: "Beyond the Sea"
(Jack Lawrence/Charles Trenet)
1960
Chart info: U.S. (#6), UK (#8)
Available on The Ultimate Bobby Darin

The aural definition of "wistful," the lyrics to "Beyond the Sea" scan as if there should be doubt that the song's distant lovers will meet again. In his reading of the song, Darin doesn't sound so sure; even when his band gets raucous, he sits it out and comes back as melancholy as ever. --Joe Tangari

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182. Patsy Cline: "She's Got You"
(Hank Cochran)
1962
Chart info: U.S. (#14), UK (N/A)
Available on 12 Greatest Hits

Money can't buy love, but roving hands can steal it, and on this countrypolitan waltz, Cline sounds irrevocably bereaved, running through possessions she has, and the precious one that no longer belongs to her. I think there's a piano in my beer. --Marc Hogan

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181. France Gall: "Laisse Tomber les Filles"
(Serge Gainsbourg)
1964
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Poupée de Son

In 1964, Gall was a 17-year-old ingénue, but her mentor-- a promising 36-year-old lecher named Serge Gainsbourg-- turned garish jailbait euphemisms into an art form. Accompanied by swooning trumpets and speakeasy bass, Gall makes her way through a tawdry jukebox-slapping cabaret populated by alcoholics and nymphettes. If pop music is supposed to combine virginity and carnality, "Laisse Tomber les Filles" might well be the pinnacle of yé-yé ecstasy. --Alex Linhardt

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180. The Barbarians: "Moulty"
(Eliot Greenberg/Doug Morris/Barbara Baer/Robert Schwartz)
1965
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Nuggets

This song is best known for being the inspirational tale of the band's hook-handed drummer, but I'll put up the chorus of "Moulty" against any other from the decade-- "Louie Louie", "Mony Mony", anything-- as being the biggest, loudest, and most unintelligible, made all the more dynamically triumphant by the aw-shucks verses. --Rob Mitchum

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179. Bembeya Jazz National: "Armée Guinéenne"
(Bembeya Jazz National)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on The Syliphone Years

Updating an old folk song honoring warriors and dedicating it to Guinea's then-fledgling armed forces, Bembeya Jazz created a hypnotic masterpiece. Balafon and percussion underpin Cuban-influenced horns and vocals, but Sekou Diabate's lead guitar steals the show as the fluid lifeblood of the song. --Joe Tangari

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178. Otis Redding: "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)"
(Jerry Butler/Otis Redding)
1965
Chart info: U.S. (#29), UK (N/A)
Available on Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul

Few performer/musician combos have enjoyed better, tighter dynamics than the ones forged between Redding and the Stax house band. The players follow his lead at every note, offsetting his soul-wrenching performance with austere horn ascensions and demonstrative punches. Redding makes the climax massive, but the band downplays it sweetly, internalizing his proclamation and making it an intimate exchange as much between the singer and band as between a man and a woman. --Stephen M. Deusner

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177. The Tammys: "Egyptian Shumba"
(Lou Christie/Twyla Herbert)
1963
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Egyptian Shumba: The Singles and Rare Recordings 1962-1964

It's not just that this girl group's gone wilder than any garage band on the list-- it's that they're possessed. The Tammys bop hard and bratty, but by the chorus they're literally growling, barking, and squealing like sexed-up hyenas; in the bridge you can hear them shudder and jerk their way into a frenzy. It's their party and they'll scream if they want to. --Nitsuh Abebe

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176. MC5: "Kick Out the Jams"
(Michael Davis/Wayne Kramer/Fred "Sonic" Smith/Dennis Thompson/Rob Tyner)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Kick Out the Jams

This one's a classic before it even starts, thanks to Rob Tyner's still-startling introduction (take the title, add "muthafuckahhhs!"). Though punk more in intent ("Let me be who I am!") than action (essentially, post-Who/Jimi Hendrix blooze-rock, but sloppier), this remains an eternal rallying cry for anarchy in the USA. --Stuart Berman

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175. Loretta Lynn: "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)"
(Loretta Lynn/Peggy Sue Wells)
1967
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on The Definitive Collection

Loretta Lynn hates drunk sex (or something). Loves the Iraq War, though. She said as much at a pre-Jack White Taste of Chicago. But "Liquor and love, they just don't mix," teases Lynn on 1967's "Don't Come Home a Drinkin'", with honky-tonk pedal steel and juke-joint piano. See, lady is crazy! --Marc Hogan

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174. Darlene Love: "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
(Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich/Phil Spector)
1963
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector

Love's woe-steeped holiday ballad is the best Xmas present Phil Spector ever gave. The track features all of the producer's trademarks and his dense arrangement provides the perfect backdrop for Love's rich voice, making it easy to understand why this has become an integral part of the Christmas music canon. --Cory D. Byrom

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173. Phil Ochs: "I Ain't Marching Anymore"
(Phil Ochs)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on I Ain't Marching Anymore

Of all the protest songs Ochs penned, "I Ain't Marching Anymore" is the strongest. Ochs' narrow tenor and staccato guitar propel this anthem about a soldier who up and stops killing. It's an urgent rebuke against the war in Vietnam, but Ochs also takes the high road: He doesn't rip into the old men who start the wars that get young men killed-- he just puts down his gun and walks away. --Chris Dahlen

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172. Archie Bell & the Drells: "Here I Go Again"
(Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (#11)
Available on There's Gonna Be a Showdown

Whether it be "Tighten Up", "I Can't Stop Dancing", "Dancing to Your Music", "Dance Your Troubles Away", or "Dancin' Man", these dudes sure liked to dance. But with this Gamble & Huff swift-string strut, Bell and co. took on a different kind of hustle. "I should have learned my lesson, you hurt me before/ But every time I see ya, I keep running back for more," blows Bell, breaking down romance's inexplicable two-step with a purposeful stride. --Ryan Dombal

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171. Neil Diamond: "Sweet Caroline"
(Neil Diamond)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (#4), UK (#8)
Available on His 12 Greatest Hits

When I was little, my best friend's mom-- who'd seen Neil Diamond in concert a dozen times-- told me he had "a nice tush." It was a strange moment-- almost traumatic. I was just a kid for chrissakes, and this was an authority figure. But Neil had that kind of power over women and this single is one reason why. It also explains why 12 Songs was a bad idea. --Mark Richardson

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170. Françoise Hardy: "Tous Les Garcons et Les Filles"
(Françoise Hardy/Roger Samyn)
1964
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (#36)
Available on The Vogue Years

The beat sways, Hardy sings, you swoon. The space between the guitar, bass, drums, and vocals-- and that's all there is on this song-- is palpable, and Hardy's vocal is a nonchalantly solitary midnight waltz through swinging Paris. Makes me want to learn French. --Joe Tangari

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169. Stevie Wonder: "Uptight (Everything's Alright)"
(Henry Cosby/Sylvia Moy/Stevie Wonder)
1966
Chart info: U.S. (#3), UK (#14)
Available on Definitive Collection

After two years without a major hit-- an eternity in the Motown days-- and with his voice making the troublesome transition from "Little" to big, 15-year-old Stevie Wonder (with help from a cavalcade of horns) literally laughs through his woes on this No. 3 smash. It's all in this rich girl/poor boy tale: the freakish optimism, opulent funk, and sneaky sociology. Here, the full breadth of Wonder's talent starts to come into full view. --Ryan Dombal

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168. Albert Ayler: "Ghosts"
(Albert Ayler)
1964
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Love Cry

Ayler first recorded his signature piece "Ghosts" in 1964, and it eventually became his most frequently played composition. The shortened version that appears on his 1967 Impulse album Love Cry is perhaps the purest distillation of Ayler's ecstatic marching-band mode, as he and his brother Donald volley the theme's simple fanfare back and forth with a joyous, Pentecostal fervor. --Matthew Murphy

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167. Stone Poneys: "Different Drum"
(Michael Nesmith)
1967
Chart info: U.S. (#13), UK (N/A)
Available on The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt

It's not you, it's Linda Rondstadt. Only in her 1967 Stone Poneys version of Monkees guitarist Mike Nesmith's "Different Drum", the country-pop diva would never put it so blandly. "I ain't saying you ain't pretty/ All I'm sayin' is I'm not ready," she avers, standing proud with Nashville strings and "In My Life"-like harpsichord. So… can we stay friends? --Marc Hogan

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166. The Flirtations: "Nothing But a Heartache"
(Wayne Bickerton/Tony Waddington)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (#34), UK (N/A)
Available on The Northern Soul Scene

This is girl-group pop with all the swoony drama that the genre demanded, but it's also tense and brittle: The horn stabs and string whooshes anticipate the funk and disco that were in their embryonic stages in 1969, and the group sings about heartache like they're sharpening their teeth. Northern Soul kids picked up on this one for very good reasons. --Tom Breihan

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165. The Monks: "Monk Time"
(Gary Burger/Larry Clark/Dave Day/Roger Johnston/Eddie Shaw)
1966
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Black Monk Time

It's beat time, it's hop time, it's Monk time! It's American punk GIs in Germany destroying everything in sight with overdriven organ, guitar feedback, and electrified banjo. This was not your rank-and-file Army beat group, raging against Vietnam, the Bomb, and complacency. --Joe Tangari

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164. Frank Sinatra: "It Was a Very Good Year"
(Ervin Drake)
1965
Chart info: U.S. (#28), UK (N/A)
Available on September of My Years

Frank walks the same balancing act as Jay-Z, somehow pulling off the aging-Don Juan character and even making himself sympathetic. Strings weep and oboes hum while Sinatra looks back on all the girls he's fucked with a fond, eloquent melancholy, never dropping his swagger but still letting weariness seep in. Masterful. --Tom Breihan

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163. Cromagnon: "Caledonia"
(Connecticut Tribe/Brian Elliot/Austin Grasmere)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Orgasm

A stately funereal march for a whole army of whispering maniacs, "Caledonia"-- with its pre-industrial stomp and pre-modern bagpipery-- evokes nothing so much as the distant and terrifying future. Like pretty much everything else on the ESP-Disk label, Cromagnon made songs so far ahead of their time we've yet to catch up. --Zach Baron

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162. The Who: "I Can See For Miles"
(Pete Townshend)
1967
Chart info: U.S. (#9), UK (#10)
Available on The Who Sell Out

At the time of this song's release, the Who weren't pleased with its chart success-- it only reached #10 in the UK. But while it found them stretching out a bit, it's really classic Who, with loose, airy verses, tight, catchy choruses, and plenty of wailing from both Pete Townshend and Keith Moon. --Cory D. Byrom

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161. The Zombies: "She's Not There"
(Rod Argent)
1964
Chart info: U.S. (#2), UK (#12)
Available on Begin Here

It's counterintuitively groovy, with its minor-key darkness and halting drum part, but "She's Not There" is as arresting and mysterious as the girl it describes. Singer Colin Blunstone exudes cool on the verses, obeys the frenzy of the chorus, and lets Rod Argent unload on one of rock's best electric piano solos. --Joe Tangari

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160. Os Mutantes: "A Minha Menina"
(Jorge Ben)
1968
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Os Mutantes

In 1968 Brazil, it constituted a political statement for Os Mutantes to perform their brash and radical form of Tropicália. But you'd never guess it from the playful, sunny bounce of "A Minha Menina", which combines propulsive Latin rhythms, delirious doo-wop choruses, and trebly fuzz guitar to frame a near-perfect slice of carefree boy-meets-girl pop. --Matthew Murphy

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159. Pink Floyd: "Astronomy Domine"
(Syd Barrett/Nick Mason/Roger Waters/Rick Wright)
1967
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

In a pre-Dark Side of the Moon world, "Astronomy Domine" was Pink Floyd's calling card, single-handedly generating every space-rock cliché and exposing rock's true psychedelic potential. Forget Jerry Garcia and Jefferson Airplane: According to Syd Barrett's brilliantly warped songwriting, mind expansion and intergalactic research could only be conducted through NASA morse code, academic electronics, time-rippling guitar echoes, and tabernacle vocals about Saturnian staircases. --Alex Linhardt

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158. P.P. Arnold: "The First Cut Is the Deepest"
(Cat Stevens)
1967
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (#18)
Available on The Immediate Singles Collection

Everyone from Rod Stewart to Sheryl Crow has covered this Cat Stevens-penned number, but no one has owned it like Arnold, whose delivery suggests a lively mix of brassy self-possession and courageous vulnerability. Her devastating interpretation outshines the fussily Spector-ian orchestration, making the song a massive monument to a profoundly broken heart. --Stephen M. Deusner

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157. Aretha Franklin: "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man"
(Chips Moman/Dan Penn)
1967
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You

Fuck Dr. Phil. Fuck Oprah. Fuck "Lovelines" and Dr. Drew. The blueprint to how to treat a woman is delivered by the woman with the voice we all want to educate us. Aretha opens plainly with "Take me to heart and I'll always love you." Is there any better way to explain this? --Sean Fennessey

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156. Loretta Lynn: "Fist City"
(Loretta Lynn)
1968
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on The Definitive Collection

The greatest catfight song of all time would be just another sad attempt by a done-wrong woman to stick up for her no-good man if it wasn't for the vicious glee with which Lynn delivers her threats. It's almost as if she encourages him to cheat, just so she can get off on beating up the bitch afterward. --Amy Phillips

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155. Creedence Clearwater Revival: "Bad Moon Rising"
(John Fogerty)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (#2), UK (#1)
Available on Green River

"Bad Moon Rising" remains the apotheosis of midnight dread: sly rockabilly, cheery resignation, and stab-your-friends paranoia. For all of Fogerty's lyrical simplicity ("I hear the voice of rage and ruin"), he manages to unite Cambodian monsoons, tear-gassed riots, postdiluvian Apollo missions, and bayou homicide under one ominous eclipse. --Alex Linhardt

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154. The Kingsmen: "Louie Louie"
(Richard Berry)
1963
Chart info: U.S. (#2), UK (#26)
Available on The Kingsmen in Person

You can blear the words and miss your cues. You can play it in a marching band, with the tubas bobbing up and down, farting the hook. You can even, like radio station KFJC, spin 823 different versions by different bands for a straight 63 hours. Go ahead, try anything-- because you can't fuck up "Louie, Louie". --Chris Dahlen

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153. Lorraine Ellison: "Stay With Me"
(Jerry Ragovoy/George David Weiss)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Stay With Me: The Best of Lorraine Ellison

"Stay With Me" starts with a slow-rotating piano line and a whisper-coo vocal, before it wells up and explodes into one of the great scenery-chewing choruses of all time. An orchestra drops bombs, and Ellison's voice abandons all restraint, clawing and rasping and howling at the man who's about to leave her. --Tom Breihan

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152. The Association: "Never My Love"
(Don Addrisi/Dick Addrisi)
1967
Chart info: U.S. (#2), UK (N/A)
Available on The Association's Greatest Hits

While the Association's happy-together harmonies might make them seem like just another chirpy pop group aching to be hoisted upon Charles Manson's petard, there's a wispy melancholy to "Never My Love" that lifts it above the rabble. This reassuring affirmation of amour is a California dream that knows the alarm could go off at any time, which, in a world of silly love songs, makes all the difference. --David Raposa

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151. David Axelrod: "The Human Abstract"
(David Axelrod)
1969
Chart info: U.S. (N/A), UK (N/A)
Available on Songs of Experience

This is the kind of primary-source material that lets DJ Shadow records get described as "cinematic"-- a bottomless piano figure that ramps up through funk bass, guitar shards, and what we'd now call "breakbeats" to hit a string-drenched climax. This, you know, is the kind of stuff the cool kids listened to. --Nitsuh Abebe

Original here

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