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via J-Ray Studios

via J-Ray Studios

A Top Ten list never includes everyone’s picks, but who doesn’t trust AARP?

They’ve got their finger on the public pulse, especially the public with silver threads running through their hair paint like mine.

It’s a nice list with a few omissions which I’ll add toward the end of this Portland baby boomer take.

For younger readers I’ll list the album, the year, and a notable song. You’ll think of them as oldies, or classic rock, until you hear it referenced in current music.

That’s the difference between boomer music and everything else. It’s still relevant, and more important, it still makes a ton of money.

1. Beginning in 1965, the first album on the AARP list is Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.

Did I love it when it came out? As an eleven year old on the west coast with an older brother, we listened to the sweet sounding Beach Boys. Who was Bob Dylan?

The image of Bob on the album looks like a pissed off Justin Bieber. Channeling some Dylan might be a good career move for the Canadian cut-up.

I started listening to Dylan in my dorm room in 1973. That’s when I learned how to be on my own, without a home, like a complete unknown. That’s when I heard Like A Rolling Stone, but I still took my laundry home on school breaks.

Later on I named my kid Dylan.

For the best sounding Bob Dylan songs, listen to Rod Stewart covers.

2. The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967.

The cover makes the four lads look like they’ve raided Michael Jackson’s closet, but it’s really the other way around.

This is about the time of the Paul Is Dead hoax. By now we know he’s not dead. In fact he’s still touring and winning awards. Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters loves Paul, so he’s got that going for him.

Sgt. Pepper has a song boomers probably laughed at then, but are living now. When I’m Sixty Four:

When I get older losing my hair, Many years from now, Will you still be sending me a valentine, Birthday greetings bottle of wine?

The key to timeless music is using time. The surviving Beatles are seventy with boomers in fast pursuit.

My boomer Beatles album would have been Let It Be, the break up album. Nothing lasts forever, as we know.

3. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, 1971.

He was Motown, then bigger than Motown, speaking to a wider audience.

Father, father We don’t need to escalate, You see, war is not the  answer, For only love can conquer hate, You know we’ve got to find a way, To bring some lovin’ here today.

By 1973 every eight track tape deck had another song cued up: Let’s Get It On. Push that button when you picked up your date and you’d know how the evening might go if she didn’t run back in the house.

Eleven years later, Marvin’s minister dad came to his house and shot him dead with a gun Marvin had given him. Here was a smooth singing man who calmed things down falling to gun violence.

There’s a lesson to learn here.

4. Carole King’s Tapestry, 1971.

How did this album resonate with so many boomers? Carole was married and divorced with two kids. She had a live when everyone else was figuring it out.

Her songs were a roadmap.

Where you lead I will follow, Anywhere that you tell me to, If you need, you need me to be with you, I will follow where you lead.

Not exactly a paean to women’s lib, but what man wouldn’t love hearing those words. They sound like one sided wedding vows.

5. The Eagles Greatest Hits, 1971-1975, issued in 1976.

A compilation album makes the list instead of Desperado? AARP, please.

Here’s a west coast band making a concept run at Sgt. Pepper and Tommy as cowboys and you leave it out for a greatest hits?

These guys were singing Beach Boy harmonies where they never existed.

A check of the charts show Greatest Hits in third place on the all time best seller list behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.

It’s money, but it’s not Desperado.

From Doolin’ Dalton:

Well the towns lay out across the dusty plain, Like graveyards filled with tombstones waitin’ for the names, And a man could use his back or use his brains, But some just went stir-crazy Lord cause nothin’ ever changed.

By now we’ve seen change that’s changed back, bright lights that dimmed. And we keep on keepin’ on.

Five more albums populate the AARP list but none include Jimi, Janis, or Jim Morrison, the three legends for their music and dying at age twenty seven.

Also missing: Eric Clapton, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wings, Elvis, Pink Floyd, The Who, Queen, Bruuuce, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, solo John Lennon.

With a list of ten, not everyone makes the cut, but it’s worth noting the song of the year for 1969. For all the groovy vibes floating through the air in 1969, the song was Sugar, Sugar by The Archies.

How far out is that?

THE TOOLS via J-Ray Studios

via J-Ray Studios



About David Gillaspie


  1. How did the long version of Inna Gadda Da Vida not make the list? Oh the joy we shared in college when we heard the DJ would have the guts to turn his back on THE MAN and not run ads and play the long version! It started instant impromptu parties. Of course no one ever listened to the whole song, are you kidding? 20 minutes of the same ten notes and hardly more words than that for the lyrics? But it got those parties going!

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Good call, Alex. The drum solo to end all drum solos share the top of the list with one other drum solo? What is it?

      Just thinking about Inna Godda Da Vida makes me want to bang my head on something. Ouch, my neck. Did you ever start the solo in class and have someone else pick up the beat? Talk about music education.

      Long versions of songs seemed like too much until they became dance tracks to get the party started. Break out the black light, tap the keg, and turn it up until the neighbors complain and the police knock on the door. That’s the recipe for how to party old school style…and get evicted.

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