The late ’60s is one of the most diverse and sonically interesting periods in popular music we have ever seen. Rock and roll has taken a psychedelic bend, and soul music is at the top of its game.
Join us as we look at the good music of the year and determine the best songs of 1967.
1. “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles
It’s hard to imagine any artist taking the top spot that is not the Beatles. The lads from Liverpool were at the peak of their career in 1967 with two outstanding albums.
A Day in the Life is the album closer to the group’s seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The song begins simply enough, taking you on a journey through the day in someone’s life. The song builds and adds more psychedelic elements to create something unreal. “A Day in the Life” is not only the pinnacle of good music from 1967 but one of the best Beatles recordings.
2. “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
Few songs have survived from 1967 as well as “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. No matter your age, you have likely heard this track before. The catchy hook and powerful singing from Franklin have allowed it to live on into the modern era. Otis Redding wrote the original version of the song, but music fans best remember this version.
Franklin sings about gender roles, and feminists have seen the track as an anthem of female empowerment. The soul singer won two Grammy Awards for “Respect.”
3. “Light My Fire” by The Doors
The Doors had a short career but left a big impact on the world of rock and its fans. “Light My Fire” was part of the group’s debut album and became a breakthrough hit. Today, many fans hold “Light My Fire” as the best song in The Doors discography.
The song was seen as raunchy in the 1960s, as the lyrics were erotic. While the sexually-charged lyrics may have offended some, they resonated with some fans and gave the band a spot in the psychedelic rock genre.
4. “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees
The Monkees have taken some flack since the 1960s for being too commercial and not as authentic as its peers. This is an unfair characterization of the band, and songs like “Daydream Believer” prove it.
“Daydream Believer” is a song about growing up in the suburbs. The song details someone who sits around all day daydreaming rather than taking an active role in life. The song was incredibly popular at the time and remains one of the most loved Monkees songs.
5. “Somebody To Love” by Jefferson Airplane
You cannot talk about 60s psychedelic rock without discussing Jefferson Airplane. The band is synonymous with the movement, and “Somebody To Love” remains one of the enduring hits of the decade.
The song is lyrically simple, depicting somebody hoping for a monogamous and lasting relationship. Songwriter Darby Slick saw the free love movement as being dangerous to romance and opined for a simpler type of relationship. He wrote the song after a breakup, adding to the loneliness of the track.
6. “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave
Sam & Dave had one of the biggest hits of the year with “Soul Man,” and no list of good music from 1967 is complete without it. Isaac Hayes, who later had a recurring role in South Park, wrote “Soul Man” to work through his feelings on the Civil Rights Movement and the turmoil that occurred during the decade.
Since its release, several artists have covered “Soul Man.” The most famous cover of the song comes from the film, The Blues Brothers.
7. “Sunshine Of Your Love” by Cream
While many bands were experimenting with lush productions, Cream took its sound in a different direction with “Sunshine of Your Love.” Though the song takes inspiration from the psychedelic movement of the era, it has elements of hard rock. In many ways, “Sunshine of Your Love” is a precursor for the music of the next era.
The song is a simple love song, and the members of Cream had difficulties coming up with lyrics. The music came first, but finding lyrics to fit the riffs proved challenging for the band.
8. “Nights In White Satin” by Moody Blues
The Moody Blues had one of the biggest hits of its career in 1967 with “Nights in White Satin.” The song has a distinct sound, giving it both a progressive rock and soft rock bend at the same time. Many prog rockers of the 1970s cite “Nights in White Satin” as an inspiration for their sound and style.
The song is a story of unrequited love that the singer goes through. They yearn to be with someone who means a lot to them, but it is not meant to be.
9. “Purple Haze” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Few artists embodied the wild spirit of the decade quite like Jimi Hendrix. His guitar playing and tuning are unlike anything ever seen before or after, and it is no wonder that “Purple Haze” is one of the best songs of 1967.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded “Purple Haze” together and it has endured as one of the signature songs of the band. The lyrics are open for interpretation, with many fans insisting the song is about drugs. Hendrix denied those claims and said he felt it was a love song.
10. “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum
“A Whiter Shade of Pale” remains one of the most successful singles in history, and it is the signature song of Procol Harum. The song was an inspiration to many artists, and it is an inspiration for many prog rock bands that came after Procol Harum’s hay day.
Fans have spilled plenty of ink debating the meaning of the lyrics, though lyricist Keith Reid said the song was always supposed to be straightforward. Reid got the idea for the song while at a party, and he said the song is a simple story of love between two people.