Last week, we put up an article about the release of the 50th anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Well, that article got me to thinking about other songs and works by various artists that will also hit the half-century mark. Not all the songs on this list made it to #1 on the charts, but they are all important songs, at least in the history of the Top 40 charts.

The point of this article is not so much the fact that the songs are 50 years old. It's more of a testament to the great artists who created music that lives long after it's chart life is over. These are true classic just like all of us who remember when these songs were new.

Let's start this adventure with a song that will turn 50 later this month.

The year 1967 was just getting underway when a band out of Los Angeles came out of nowhere with a really different sound. It was part country and part rock and it was the first time a band had combined those two musical forms. It wasn't long before it became obvious that there was a lot of talent in this band and Stephen Still and Neil Young were budding songwriters The critics declared Buffalo Springfield the "next big thing", but that just didn't pan out. Despite predictions that the band was going to have an amazing career, they only had one hit.

The song was penned by Stephen Stills and was written about riots that took place late in 1966. The song went to #7 and it looked like things were off to a great start, but internal conflicts splintered the band and they never had another hit.

 

I will never forget hearing this song on my little AM radio and wondering who the hell was singing it. From the opening notes of Ray Manzarek's piano, I was hooked. Jim Morrison was certainly no singer, but he was one of the best shouters of all time. The song was released on June 24, 1967  rapidly rose to #1 and stayed there for a month.

It was the first week of July, 1967 When an unknown British band came sneaking on the charts with a song that very much sounded classically based. The story is that the organ work on the song was based on a Bach Cantata called "Sleepers Awake", but I don't notice any similarity at all. The band, caught a ton of flack over the song. Critics jumped all over the fact that the lyrics made no sense at all. It was also leaked out that session musicians were used during the recording of the song. Still, the cryptic lyrics and classically styled organ work caught the attention of the record buying public and Procol Harum was launched into worldwide fame. Not! Even people who love the song can't remember the name of the band.

This is another song that really impacted me the first time I ever heard it.It was a beautiful spring afternoon and I was driving home from my girlfriend's house when "Groovin" played on the radio. The song and the day matched up perfectly  and, yes, it was a Sunday afternoon.

The Rascals had already enjoyed some chart success before "Groovin", but the song gave them their second #1 hit ( the first was "Good Lovin'" in 1966) and it was the groups first million seller.

The song still holds up extremely well and has been covered by artists from all over the world.

1967 was a banner year for Aretha Franklin. six years earlier, Aretha had her first Top 40 hit with a remake of of "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody", but that song barely even made it to the Top 40 charts (#37 in November 1961)

I'm sure she thought her career was pretty much over because it was a full 6 years before she had another hit. Then the Queen of Soul struck gold in 1967 and she had 5 Top 10 hits in a row. The second of those 5 songs was a simple little song written by Otis Redding and he did have a minor hit with the song in 1965, but it took Aretha's amazing voice to take this song all the way to the top.

The song garnered more than millions of sales. According to Wikipedia:

Franklin's cover was a landmark for the feminist movement, and is often considered as one of the best songs of the R&B era, earning her two Grammy Awards in 1968 for "Best Rhythm & Blues Recording" and "Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female", and was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2002, the Library of Congress honored Franklin's version by adding it to the National Recording Registry. It was placed number five on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[3] It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. Franklin included a live recording on the album Aretha in Paris (1968).

How are you going to top all that? The song continues to be popular all over the world and, no doubt, 50 years from now, someone will be writing an article about how the song is 100 years old and still popular.

There you have 5 songs that have earned the right to be called "Classics." Amazing to think that these songs are actually 50 years old and still going strong.