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The 50 Best Songs of 1965
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Pop

The 50 Best Songs of 1965

by Justin Farrar  |  June 28, 2015

The 50 Best Songs of 1965

This is a very special edition of Rhapsody's The 50, as 2015 marks the golden anniversary of a long list of timeless songs. The Boomers are right to be proud of their generation: The sheer amount of classic music linked to 1965 truly is awesome.

To begin with, rock 'n' roll was on fire. Bob Dylan unleashed "Like a Rolling Stone," six epic minutes of visionary poetry colliding with battering-ram drums and Al Kooper's screaming organ. The Rolling Stones matched him in intensity when they released their snarling masterpiece "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." The Who also kept apace thanks to the punkish anthem "My Generation." The Byrds, with help from The Wrecking Crew, invented folk rock when they entered Columbia Records' Hollywood studios and electrified Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." Yet another SoCal outfit, The Beach Boys, created a song for the ages in the form of "California Girls," easily one of pop's most glorious odes to American hedonism.

The world of soul music proved just as sublime, if not more so. Before being gunned down in December 1964, Sam Cooke recorded "A Change Is Gonna Come," which the following year became a key anthem for the African American Civil Rights Movement. Up in Chicago, Curtis Mayfield and his Impressions penned their own Civil Rights anthem, the heavenly "People Get Ready." Motown, too, had a historical year thanks to a string of smash hits, including The Temptations' "My Girl," The Supremes' "Stop! In the Name of Love" and The Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)." And let's not forget The Hardest Working Man In Show Business, Mr. James Brown, whose "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" -- one of the primary links between rhythm & blues and funk music -- occupied the airwaves.

Lastly, a massive shout-out to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, released in the winter of '65. It might not have dented the pop charts, yet the album (a copy of which every proud hippie owned) played a profoundly inspirational role in regards to the growing counterculture's belief in universal love and peace. A selection is spotlighted in our playlist, but if you've never heard the entire record, definitely check it out. It's beautiful. To fully appreciate all the wonderful music that emerged from 1965, simply press play.

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