1968, the year I became a teenager [Yikes!], was my family’s first full year in Bracebridge. We actually lived outside the town on two different farms. It was an awesome year! My brothers and I spent hours roaming in the barns, fields and forests. Other than watching the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights, I don’t quite recall how I found time to listen to all the music that was being produced, which is why perhaps I developed an interest in some of it years later.
One thing I didn’t miss out on was new stuff from the Beatles. 1968 was the year they issued their finest song to date. Hey Jude was released in August and it was #1 on the Billboard top 100 chart for nine weeks. It was also #1 on the yearend chart. It was written by Paul McCartney in an effort to comfort John Lennon’s son, Julian, who was having a difficult time with his parents’ divorce. It was originally titled Hey Jules, but McCartney changed it because he thought Hey Jude sounded better. At seven minutes long, it was a masterpiece, released as a single, and the first song produced by the Beatles’ new recording company, Apple Records. I don’t recall when I first heard it, but clearly it did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for the Fab Four.
The Beatles also released what became known as the ‘white album.’ It was a double disc effort with a plain white cover. Although not one of my favorite Beatles records, it contained some really good songs, including While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Back in the USSR, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, Birthday, Revolution and Helter Skelter.
The Rolling Stones topped the charts again with Jumpin’ Jack Flash, as they continued to nurture my growing fondness for their music.
With the emergence of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, the Doors, Steppenwolf and Vanilla Fudge, rock music got much tougher and grittier that year. Even the Beatles showed their harder side with Helter Skelter, a song that supposedly inspired the notorious Charles Manson. I really wasn’t into this music, although I did like Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf.
My preferences were more middle of the road and in that ilk, Elenore, by the Turtles, Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding, A Beautiful Morning, by The Rascals, Love is All Around, by The Troggs and Green Tambourine, by The Lemon Pipers satisfied my budding teenage cravings. I also really enjoyed, and I almost don’t want to admit this, the 1910 Fruit Gum Company, which had two big hits with Simon Says and 1 2 3 Red Light. Their music was pure bubblegum, but their tunes were catchy and I liked them. It just goes to show you, that it’s always impotant to keep your options, and your mind, open!
Speaking of the 1910 Fruit Gum Company, I mostly listened to their songs on K-Tel Records. K-Tel was a small company based in Winnipeg, Canada, that put together compilation albums. We bought all of their rock and roll records and discovered a lot of great music on them.
There were a couple of non rock and roll songs that gained popularity in 1968. The first, was Classical Gas, an awesome instrumental piece by Mason Williams. The second, was The Unicorn, a children’s song by the Irish Rovers. I enjoyed both numbers!
Another new band made the charts that year. I wasn’t particularly fond of their initial offering, Susie Q, but this California based foursome whose simple music was pure southern bayou, Creedence Clearwater Revival would soon become one of my favorites.
Have on awesomely open-minded day!