Every once in a while, as I’m drifting off the sleep, I have a idea for a post. Last night, I found myself wondering if it were possible to choose a “Single of the Decade” for each artificial ten-year slot of the Rock and Roll Era.

Of course, it was silly, but I kept on it because some were so easy: “Roll Over Beethoven” for the fifties, “Money Changes Everything” for the eighties.

The sixties seemed problematic due to an embarrassment of riches, but I kept asking myself….”Ode to Billie Joe?”

Once the idea took hold it was hard to shake, even as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Gimme Shelter” and “Respect” all came rapidly to mind. I mean shouldn’t the one song that has to stand in for the entire sixties (not just the post-JFK assassination part) have a air of unsolvable mystery about it?

I fell asleep soon after and I wasn’t going to do anything about it when I woke up.

I’m still not going to do anything about it. Too many arguments in my own head.

But I probably only think about the unsolvable mystery of Bobbie Gentry a couple of times a year and it sure was weird to find this on Twitter today…

Sept. 21. I probably won’t have the money–trying to save for a BIG project concerning my fiction-writing career.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t poss the word along. (Hat tip to David Cantwell’s Twitter feed, where one can learn a lot of good things.)


  1. NDJ

    If “Roll Over Beethoven” was so easy for the fifties, hows come it never entered my mind? I would have gone with “Rock Around the Clock” or “Blue Suede Shoes” or “Johnny B Goode” or “Tutti Frutti” or “Hound Dog” or a host of others long before I considered “Roll Over Beethoven.”

    Not that it’s not a good choice …


    • I just meant it was easy for me….as a fun mental exercise while drifting off to sleep…It wasn’t the first record I thought of….But, when it did pop into my mind (I confess I was mentally sorting Chuck Berry tunes), just the PHRASE Roll Over Beethoven carries so much weight I didn’t think I needed to dwell on it any further.

      FYI: I’d of gone into all of that a lot further if I’d decided to make a post of it!

      Just curious, what would you settle on, if you had to settle on one?


  2. I like your pick, though….It works as both affirmation and satire (even if you intended neither). That’s thinking out of the box!

    Got a pick for the sixties?

    I think I’ve settled on “Season of the Witch” but I’m still open to suggestions….

  3. I always assumed that was a shot at the posers. But GInsberg reportedly died with a net worth of three million so who knows?

    I’ll have to think on Nancy Sinatra versus Toni Wine doing Betty and Veronica….”Sugar Shack” is a bridge too far even for sarcasm!

  4. Believe it or not, no sarcasm was intended above.

    So how about two songs for The Sixties: “All You Need Is Love” for the optimism we felt in the face of what often seemed like overwhelming and insurmountable repression, depression, racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc.

    The flip-side: “Gimme Shelter,” for the skepticism we felt and still feel in the face of what often seems like overwhelming and insurmountable repression, depression, racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc.

    • Happens I do love both “Sugar Town” and “Sugar, Sugar”….I don’t know why I don’t ever need to hear “Sugar Shack” again (though I don’t hate it…I don’t hate anything…I just never responded to it).

      I like your thinking. I was leaning towards a similar juxtaposition of “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “Season of the Witch”….I think it’s safe to say the Sixties are the hardest decade to fit into one song!

    • What’s interesting is that while revisiting the song in the mid-’70s, Frank sang the chorus slightly differently. He pointed at random members of the audience and sang, “YOU are the brain police.”

      • He could have been presciently speaking of today’s manifestation of “political correctness,” a term I laughed at in the ’90s as a concoction of the rightwing thinktankers, but have a more difficult time denying the past few years.

        • The spirit of “the Sixties” took up more time and involved more people in the ’70s than it did the ’60s. Plus, by the time Zappa was ordering everyone around on stage in the early ’70s, a lot of us were writing him off as an uptight (but no longer outta sight) control freak.

          • I’ll have to bow to the expertise of others on Zappa. The only one of his albums I’ve listened to more than a time or two is Ruben and the Jets…which I gather ain’t exactly typical.

  5. This is reminding me that to everything there really is a season….I think where this is going to lead is a How Much Can One Record Mean devoted to “Turn, Turn, Turn.” and the Resistance to Empire!

  6. All the Mothers/Verve albums have lots to offer. With the move to Reprise, things go way downhill real fast—except for HOT RATS, a real gem: if it consisted of only “Peaches En Regalia” and “Willie the Pimp” it would be great album!

  7. Everyone’s tastes are different (of course — it keeps the world interesting)! The Zappa music that I usually recommend is from ’74 to ’79. Specifically, Apostrophe, One Size Fits All and Studio Tan. It’s some of the most musically adventurous, often beautiful material I’ve ever heard. Not that the original Mothers stuff isn’t a lot of fun. In fact, I think I’m one of the few Zappa fanatics who love Cruising with Ruben & the Jets. To parody something effectively, you have to possess a great affection for it, and that certainly describes Frank regarding doo-wop / R&B.


      I should have said it more like this: For me, the Verve albums hold up well as albums, while most of the Reprise albums are spotty. The sense of humor he manifested on those early albums I respond to; his post-’60s sense of humor leaves me cold.

      That said, if I went through all the post Verve albums and pulled all the tracks off each album that I dig, I would have hours of brilliant music!


      PS: I had several friends who loved the Mothers albums back then, and we played them often when we were high or tripping, including the RUBEN AND THE JETS album.

        • I don’t veer off the topic of the music and the record often, but I will point this out: There wasn’t much of a rock press in the US in the’60s until 1967, when first Crawdaddy then Rolling Stone launched.

          Neither magazine paid much attention to what was currently happening on “the scene” the way the British music weeklies did. Still, Zappa’s near-rabid anti-drug stance was well known.

          The problem was that since he made it clear that he not only didn’t “do drugs” but that he never had, he essentially didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about.

          For those of us who did “do drugs,” it was kinda like listening to a priest give advice about sex …

  8. Aw, now it’s getting expensive! Seriously, though, I do want to acquire a nice run of Zappa albums one day and sit down and absorb them all at once…Have a feeling I’m missing something there.

    Fun anecdote: I once heard Zappa being interviewed on NPR and Terry Gross asked something to the effect of whether Ruben and the Jets was an affectionate parody (as opposed to a mean spirited one). Zappa answered something to the effect of “Of course.” He seemed surprised by the question.

  9. NDJ

    We listened to everything on acid. While certain rock records were more conducive to eliciting astounding/enjoyable/disruptive/etc., responses than, say, listening to Bobby Goldsboro or Buck Owens, all music was game.

    The juxtaposition of conflicting styles could have a jarring (in the positive sense) on a tripper: following nine minutes of Zappa’s “Wille The Pimp” with something from Elvis’s HOW GREAT THOU ART album could make the listener hear both Elvis and gospel music in a new light.

    Keep on keepin’ on!


    PS: That’s an affirmative to your question, and the staggering sincerity in “doo wop” ballads could move one to tears …

  10. That sounds like how I both listen and react to records myself….It’s a shame there can never be a definitive experiment to find out whether abstinence or experiment is the better guide to the universe as the same person can never indulge both (at least not in full)…I guess different strokes for different folks will always be the likely answer.

    Makes me kinda’ wish Zappa had been a user though…Then he could have done Doo Wop on Acid (which would be right up there with Al Green Sings the Delta Blues and Sandy Denny’s duet album with Robert Plant on my wish list!)

  11. NDJ

    Not sure what you mean by a “guide to the universe” let alone a “better guide to the universe.”

    Um, maybe Zappa did do doo-wop on acid—just because he said he didn’t doesn’t mean he didn’t.


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