"Shindig" began its second season on Sept. 16,
1965, with a jam-packed show featuring The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The
Byrds. ABC had given the show a second night (a strategy that had paid off
handsomely the previous season for "Peyton Place" and would yield
spectacular results with "Batman" in ¹66), but the network then
negated its own move by placing the second "Shindig" on Saturday
night, when the bulk of the show's potential audience was anywhere but in front
of a television.
That was followed in the U.S. by the release of a grab-bag
collection of British LP and EP tracks, "December's Children (And
Everybody's)", which also included "Get Off of My Cloud" and
their final release of the year, "As Tears Go By". That song had begun
1965 as a hit for Mick Jagger's soon-to-be girlfriend Marianne Faithful and
ended it as the beginning of a three-year period during which the Stones would
slavishly follow The Beatles in their professional pursuits.
For instance, just a few short months after The Beatles released "Yesterday" with its string quartet, here was the Stones' version of "As Tears Go By", with a suspiciously similar sound. Nonetheless, with two No. 1 singles and a No. 1 album in America and three U.K. No. 1 singles, the Stones finished the year a solid second among the British bands and, arguably, the world's No. 2 group in terms of popularity.
As slow as the Stones' ascendancy in the States had been,
another band that had enjoyed great success in Britain was having an even
tougher time cracking the U.S. pop scene. The Hollies, one of the first of the
Manchester beat groups to hit the big time in England, had a string of seven
straight U.K. Top 10 singles by the fall of ¹65 before the seventh, "Look
Through Any Window", became their first record to crack the U.S. Top 40.
"I'm Alive", a great piece of Merseypop that went
top of the pops back home, didn't even crack the lower reaches of the charts in
America. The Hollies would have to wait until the summer of ¹66 for their real
breakthrough in the States.
Similarly, The Who had steadily risen in popularity in the
mother country but had totally failed to catch fire in the U.S. This was never
more evident than with the release in early November of "My
Generation". Pete Townshend's classic song, which was quickly adopted as
the anthem of the Mods and the overall British youth culture -- and is now
considered a classic around the world -- barely scraped the depths of the
American charts before quickly disappearing. The Who wouldn't make any real
headway the States until the spring of ¹67.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney produced a version of
"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" for a folk group called The Silkie.
Another writing-producing duo, John Carter and Ken Lewis, hit tunesmiths earlier
in the year with Herman's Hermits' "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat",
scored on their own as The Ivy League with "Tossing And Turning".
On the soul side, James Brown, who had finally entered the
pop mainstream with his performance in "The T.A.M.I. Show" and the
success of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", scored the biggest hit of his
pop career late in the year with the celebratory "I Got You (I Feel
Good)". Stevie Wonder, who had been unable to duplicate the success of
"Fingertips" two-plus years before and was in danger of being dropped
by Motown, finally got what would become a magnificent career off the ground
with "Uptight (Everything's Alright)". Smokey Robinson provided The
Temptations another pair of classic tunes, "My Baby" and the anthemic
"Don't Look Back", before ending the year with the discotheque hit
"Going to a Go Go" with the Miracles. And Holland-Dozier-Holland
concluded an amazing year with another great writing-producing effort for The
Four Tops, "Something About You".
The American folk-rock boom continued to reverberate as the
year wound down. Bob Dylan, despite the recent release of the "Highway 61
Revisited" album, released a brand new single called "Positively 4th
Street". A searing denunciation of his old colleagues in the folk scene (or
so it was perceived by said old colleagues), it followed hot on the heels of the
summer-long brouhaha over Dylan's move to electrified music. After burning his
folk-scene bridges (including his breakup with long-time lover Joan Baez back in
the spring during the British tour, captured on-camera for the film "Don't
Look Back"), Dylan married Sara Lowndes in late November and moved to a
sleepy upstate New York village called Woodstock.
Meanwhile, The Byrds faced the unenviable task of following
up their magnificent debut album. When they appeared on "Hullabaloo"
at the end of November, the band fittingly performed Dylan's "The Times
They Are A-Changing" and while there were originals on their second album,
the best-remembered songs were their electrified treatments of folk songs. There
were Dylan's "Times" and "Lay Down Your Weary Tune", the
folk chestnut "He Was a Friend of Mine" (with new lyrics by Jim
McGuinn in tribute to the late President John F. Kennedy), and the album's title
song, "Turn Turn Turn (To Everything There Is a Season)", Pete
Seeger's adaptation of the words from the Book of Ecclesiastes (which in fact,
had been one of the main pieces of Scripture read at Kennedy's funeral two years
earlier). Coming as it did at the halfway mark of an already turbulent decade,
"Turn Turn Turn" struck an immediate emotional chord and cut a steady
path to No. 1, where it remained through much of December.
There were other entrants in the folk-rock sweepstakes. The
Turtles followed up their success with Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe"
by recording P.F. Sloan's "Let Me Be". Johnny Rivers brought his
Whiskey A Go Go sound to "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" (following
up his summertime Top 10 cover of Willie Dixon's "Seventh Son"). The
Lovin' Spoonful proved that "Do You Believe in Magic" was no fluke
with another good-timey John Sebastian tune, "You Didn't Have to be So
Nice". And Dylan's producer, Tom Wilson, created the next folk-rock
chart-topper from an obscure 1964 album track.
The song was originally called "The Sound of
Silence" from an album called "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M." by a New
York-based one-time Everly Brothers clone-turned-folk duo, Paul Simon and Art
Garfunkel. The album had attracted little notice when it was first released and
Simon then journeyed to England, wrote a batch of new songs and recorded a solo
album, "The Paul Simon Songbook", which also included some of the
songs he had recorded with Garfunkel for "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.".
Meanwhile, back in New York, Wilson, coming off the
unqualified success of Dylan's "Bringing It All Back Home" and
"Highway 61 Revisited", took the "Wednesday" version of
"The Sound of Silence", dubbed on electric guitar, bass and drums, and
Columbia Records released it as a single (with a subtle name change to
"The Sounds of Silence"). Simon returned to the States in the last
weeks of the year to find the single climbing the charts. He and Garfunkel went
into the studio and recorded new versions (several with electric backing) of
some of the songs Simon had written and recorded acoustically while in
England. The single hit No. 1 in the first week of the new year.
But folk-rock wasn't all that was happening on the American
pop scene in the last weeks of 1965. The McCoys followed up "Hang on Sloopy"
with a rocked-up version of "Fever", Little Willie John's late ¹50s
R&B hit (and a straight pop hit for Peggy Lee). The Vogues followed up
"You're the One" with "Five O'Clock World". "Ebb
Tide", a second straight Bobby Hatfield solo vocal on a single credited to
the Righteous Brothers, led the duo to break with Phil Spector and move on to
A New Jersey band called The Knickerbockers was starting to
catch fire with Beatlesque rocker "Lies" as the year ended. And
Atlantic Records released the first single by a band that rose out of the ashes
of Joey Dee's Starliters. The group started the year playing a Garfield, NJ,
dive called the Choo-Choo Club; got a summertime gig at The Barge, a trendy club
in the Hamptons on Long Island; cut a management deal with promoter Sid
Bernstein (who gave them a plug on the Shea Stadium scoreboard during The
Beatles' concert there Aug. 15); and signed a recording contract with Atlantic.
The Rascals (or The Young Rascals, as they initially were billed to
differentiate from another band called The Rascals) had their first single,
"I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" hit the charts just as the
And in San Francisco, the music scene that would explode
onto the national stage in 1967 was finding its local following. On Oct. 16, The
Family Dog opened with Jefferson Airplane, the Great Society (with future
Airplane lead singer Grace Slick) and the Charlatans. On Nov. 6, the first
concert was held at The Fillmore Auditorium with the Charlatans, the Airplane
and band formerly called the Warlocks and by then called The Grateful Dead.
British blues bands were still very visible late in the
year with the Yardbirds' "I'm a Man", Them's "Mystic Eyes' and
The Animals' "It's My Life". But the final No. 1 single in America in
1965 -- the 12th by a British act of the year's 25 No. 1s -- was by one of the
original British Invasion bands from nearly two years earlier, The Dave Clark
Five, who garnered their only U.S. No. 1 single with a cover of a Bobby Day
B-side, "Over And Over".
Of course, it took The Beatles to put the final punctuation mark on this amazing musical year. First, they released a virtual double-A-side single, "We Can Work it Out" and "Day Tripper" -- one of the three or four best singles they ever released as a group -- which added another classic guitar riff to 1965's musical legacy.
Then came the first of the trio of albums that sealed The Beatles' place in history as musical trailblazers. In reality, they were just absorbing all that was going on around them during the year, particularly folk-rock, and "Rubber Soul" reflected that process.
So much of what was good about rock in 1965 was blended and distilled by The Beatles into the fine elixir that was "Rubber Soul". While Dylan and the Kinks already had pushed their own musical envelopes, it took The Beatles to legitimize the concept of exploring new stylistic frontiers, thus setting the stage for the likes of "Pet Sounds", "Blonde on Blonde", "Face to Face" and, of course, "Aftermath" and "Revolver" in 1966.
Rock/pop music ended 1965 in much better form than it began the year. The British scene, overwhelmingly dominated early in the year by matching-suited, toothy-grinned pop bands, had grown rich and diverse, incorporating blues, folk, straight pop and unsweetened rock. Meanwhile, the Fab Four had reached an undreamt-of level of popularity while refining and enriching their own music and influencing others'.
In America, the birth of folk-rock and the parade of young bands from such places as Texas, California, Ohio and New York had added a new dimension and richness to rock that would reach full flower in 1966 and 1967. And the music that had always been rock's backbone, r&b, was entering a golden era with the rapidly-growing music powerhouse of Motown, James Brown's overdue arrival in the pop mainstream and the maturation of young talents such as Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett.
For these and other reasons, 1965 produced a larger body of rock/pop classics than any other year in the 40-plus year history of the genre. More importantly, it opened the doors of musical liberation through which so many truly important and seminal acts would pour in the coming years.
Yes, 1965 indeed opened "a brand new bag."