The Isolation Generation Playlist – Depressive

The Nineteen Sixties were filled with tragedy, anger and sadness. Everything was changing, overnight. The largest generation in world history was ripping and shredding the upholstery from the fat, comfortable American couch, and overturning everyone’s idea about what was right, what was wrong and who could point it out.

The rules about love and sex were changing, bending, breaking. But, feelings were changing more slowly. Ultimately, sad love songs blanketed the country’s airwaves, providing an outlet for both personal pain and public mourning.

The songs selected for Depressive are merely a teardrop in the oceans of grief that were the 60s. However, they do provide a fair taste of the ‘downer’ element that was another defining portion of the era.

Yesterday – The Beatles: The most recorded song in history: proof that simplicity makes for greatness. Regret is a universal theme. In the Sixties, everyone was regretting something (“Yesterday/all my troubles seemed so far away/now it looks as though/they’re here to stay”). Was there a single person in the world unable to relate to that?ção

Stormy – Classics IV Featuring Dennis Yost: Windy’s big sister is this young lady who has broken the heart of the singer (“my world is cloudy and gray/you’ve gone away”). But, in typical Boomer fashion, she isn’t asked to return; she is commanded (“bring back that sunny day”). Even when mortally wounded, the Boomer Mind still stays in control, and forces the world to abide by its rules… or tries to.–Stormy

Pleasant Valley Sunday – The Monkees: The Suburbs are targeted in this decidedly derisive ditty, written for the ‘Pre-Fab’ Four by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The problems with our American culture are laid out on the lawn to see (“And Mr. Green/he’s so serene/he’s got a TV in every room”) and attack (“creature comfort goals/they only know my soul/and make it hard for me to see/my thoughts all seem to stray/to places far away/I need a change of scenery”). The Monkees, making one of the most politically charged social observations of the decade? Who knew?–Pleasant+Valley+Sunday–HQ

Love Is Blue – Paul Mauriat: Oboes instantly evoke sadness. Harpsichords build on the effect. Add a harp that sounds like syncopated tears falling, throw in some strings and you have the basic recipe for this instrumental. Trying to be happy, but clearly not: just as many of the Boomers were feeling; just as many of the Space-Agers were becoming.–-Paul+Mauriat+Love+Is+Blue

By The Time I Get To Phoenix – Glen Campbell: A brilliant Jimmy Webb composition. Cinematically, it sets up a split-screen in our minds. We ride along with the singer as he travels from city to city (“by the time I make Albuquerque/she’ll be workin’”). And we stay put with the now ex-girlfriend who, through the course of just another day, discovers that her lover has gone forever: A real kick-in-the-gut heart-wrencher.–By+The+Time+I+Get+To+Phoenix

Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird) – Chuck Jackson: Take “Phoenix” and spin it around for this lament, about a singer waiting, like a calf at a stockyard, to be slaughtered. His lover is going to leave him at the first chance (“when your restless eyes/meet someone new/oh, to my sad surprise”). There’s no surprise, really. He knows it. She knows it. But he can do nothing. He loves her too much to leave first. Another heartbreaker.–By+The+Time+I+Get+To+Phoenix

Sunday Will Never Be The Same – Spanky and Our Gang: Here is another in the series of songs trying to be happy but quite clearly cannot (“I’ve lost my Sunday song/he’ll not be back again”). Talk about a world-altering event (“I remember sunshine”)! And you thought “Stormy” was bad. Finally, the clever use of the hymn-like opening recalls the day, the faith and the loss all in a neat, bittersweet package.–Sunday+Will+Never+Be+The+Same

Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying – Gerry and The Pacemakers: “It may be hard/to discover/that you’ve been left/for another.” There’s an understatement. But, this sentimental sentiment is only meant to cheer someone who needs it. As is typical of the Boomer mentality, it’s not done as a suggestion. That’s an order!–Don’t+Let+The+Sun+Catch+You+Crying.mpg

A Summer Song – Chad and Jeremy: “Don’t you know/that it hurts me so/to say goodbye to you.” That sums up the message delivered in this harmonious treasure box, filled with snapshot images (“trees swaying in the summer breeze…soft kisses on a summer’s day”) from a brief romance. Again, holding on to the joys of summer (and of love). The Boomers try to clutch onto the fun every time, not letting go if possible. And, doesn’t that make the rest of us want to?–A+Summer+Song

Where Is Love? – Mark Lester: It’s from the Dickens book turned Broadway show turned great, big Hollywood Oscar Winning musical: “Oliver!” Imagine an orphan, purchased for the equivalent of pennies and kept in a chilly cellar during a London winter. That’s where this tearful child is vocalizing (“let tomorrow be the day/when I see the face/of someone who/I can mean/something to”). Dovetailing perfectly into Isolation Generation terms, we were all looking for the people who would give us the love and help we needed to become our best selves. Oliver found it, eventually. Maybe, so could we!!+(1968)–WHERE+IS+LOVE–MARK+LESTER

Walk On By – Dionne Warwick: Burt Bacharach has more songs in this collection than anyone else, save The Beatles. This could be the ultimate Bacharach song. With daringly defiant bravado, the singer asks you to ignore her in an almost martyr-like way (“if you see me/walking down the street/and I start to cry/each time we meet/walk on by”). With all of the break ups happening during this era, it was becoming an all too common scenario.

(Song unavailable on

Everyone’s Gone To The Moon – Jonathan King: Part psychedelia, part Space Age social criticism, this song, sounding a bit like a lost verse from a Lewis Carroll work, points out the overwhelming isolation experienced (“streets full of people/all alone/roads full of houses/never home”) before dissolving into a nonsensical mind trip (“arms that can only/lift a spoon”). We were almost onto something, there.’s+Gone+To+The+Moon

Love Theme From Romeo + Juliet – Henry Mancini: Director Franco Zefferelli brought a lavish recreation of Shakespeare’s timeless tale to the big screen. Mancini’s music was a part of it. This ballad, (also known as “A Time For Us”) was charming in the film. But it was the Maestro himself who performed this version of the song, and gave it the chest-clutching chord drops and French horns heard here. It’s an appropriate theme for The Bard of Stratford’s most tragic of lovers.–Love+Theme+from+Romeo+and+Juliet

Easy To Be Hard – Three Dog Night: This was one of the four top ten hits from the Tribal Love-Rock Musical, “Hair.” Here, the singer complains that their lover is so caught up in the big causes of the day; there isn’t time for this one little one (“do you only care/about the bleeding crowd/how about/a needed friend/I need a friend”). The Boomers were changing the world on a macro level, which made some feel ignored on a micro level.–Easy+To+Be+Hard

I Am A Rock – Simon and Garfunkel: We all love subtext, and Paul Simon gives us plenty here, including a transparent narrator (“I have my books/and my poetry to protect me”). We know the singer has been hurt emotionally and is coping by shutting out the world (“if I never loved/I never would have cried”). The tougher the façade, the more easily it crumbles.–I+Am+A+Rock

Is That All There Is – Miss Peggy Lee: A ‘life in review’ song (see also “It Was A Very Good Year”). Lieber and Stoller strike again, giving Miss Lee her final chart appearance. Done as a cabaret style personal memoir to the listeners, our world-weary singer recounts moments in her life and jadedly asks “Is that all there is?” The cynicism flows like water.

In The Year 2525 (Exordium And Terminus) – Zager and Evans: A futuristic cautionary tale given a sense of urgency by the parallels to actual events (“you’ll pick your son/pick your daughter too/from the bottom/of a long glass tube…”). As usual, the Boomers don’t want to leave you on the Planet of the Apes, so, the ending has room for a happier result (“but through eternal night/the twinkling of starlight/so very far away/maybe it’s only yesterday”). However, the song begins again, apparently headed for the same conclusion.

Monday, Monday – The Mamas and The Papas: The Boomers taught us to despise working for a living, especially since they were the first generation to have so much down time. But here, it’s a dislike based upon a lover’s actions (“but Monday morning/you gave me no warning/of what was to be/oh, Monday, Monday/how could you leave/and not take me”). Papa John Phillips certainly had some issues about abandonment. Question: Did people hate the workweek with that much passion before this song?

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As Tears Go By – The Rolling Stones: One of the most metaphorical offerings of the Bad Boys of Rock (“all I hear is the sound/of rain falling on the ground”). It’s really a sweet and touching poem. The Stones were really sensitive souls at heart, and with this tune they prove to us that they could balladeer with Lennon and McCartney at any time.–As+Tears+Go+By.mpg

Honey – Bobby Goldsboro: The benchmark for depressive songs: it will spoil your mood if you don’t laugh at it first (see also “It Must Be Him”). The singer gives us a tour of his home and links objects to events with his one true love who has since gone to her greater reward (“one day while I/was not at home/while she was there/and all alone/the angels came”). The whole production is so overwrought with heroic emotionalism it’s almost ludicrous by today’s standards. However, back in 1968, it was number one for five solid weeks on the Billboard Pop Charts.–Honey

It Was A Very Good Year – Frank Sinatra: At once sad and life-affirming, Old Blue Eyes gives you a highly edited taste of a life, though clearly, it’s not his own, it’s simply not thrilling enough (no mention of Vegas? Oh, come now)! Though it seems plausible to envision him drinking “vintage wine from fine old kegs.” Here’s looking at you, Frank.–It+Was+A+Very+Good+Year

Hushabye Mountain – Dick Van Dyke: From the soundtrack of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” inventor Charactacus Potts (get it? Crack Pot Inventor?) lullabies his too perfect two children to bed, promising their troubles will be left behind once they push their attitude to the right altitude (“so close your eyes/on Hushabye Mountain/wave goodbye to cares/of the day”). You can tell, even he doesn’t believe this fairy story, which is what gives it that overwhelming sense of sadness.

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Over You – Gary Puckett and the Union Gap: “Within the prison walls/of my mind/there’s still a part of you/left behind.” One of the greatest throats of the Rock Era, Puckett can belt with the best of them. It takes a voice like that to convince us that the singer’s lover, (now gone) was great, and that he might yet win her back. If Bobby Goldsboro sang this one, we would either be crying or laughing at it.

It’s My Party – Lesley Gore: One of the happiest sad songs you will ever hear: it’s simple. Singer throws herself a birthday bash. Her guy leaves with her archrival (“you would cry too/if it happened to you”). The question: if this guy is worth crying over, why is he picking up another girl at your party? On the next Dr. Phil!

Theme From The Valley Of The Dolls – Dionne Warwick: The vocalist sounds disconnected from the rest of the world. But, that’s the effect sought here. The film, based on Jacqueline Susann’s trashy novel, is about movie starlets hooked on ‘dolls’: pills (“is this a dream/am I here/where are you/what’s in back of the sky/why do we cry”). There is a moment when you feel her fighting to get back to reality, but, just as quickly it passes and the singer drifts back into the ozone of a Hollywood night, alone.

(This version is performed by song co-writer, Dory Previn)
Mr. Dieingly Sad – The Critters: A typical yearning song, there is the heartbroken implication of unrequited love in the lyric (“you can be/so mystifyingly glad/I’m Mr. Dieingly Sad”). Here the singer battles the elements of both the weather and whether or not his lover loves him. ‘Mr. Dieingly Sad’ eventually won his love by whispering sweet nothings as they stood on the shore. If only it were that easy.–Mr.+Dieingly+Sad

Abraham, Martin And John – Dion: The anthem of 1968. After Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen, this song came out, eulogizing the political and spiritual leaders taken from us far too soon (“he freed a lot of people/but they say the good die young/I just looked around/and he was gone”).–Abraham+Martin+And+John

It Must Be Him – Vikki Carr: The codependent’s theme song, made workable by the convincing vocal. Story: woman has breakup. Woman is over it. But, when a call comes in, the comic mask falls to the ground and she reveals herself a blather-mouthed barnacle (“let it please be him/oh, dear God/it must be him/it must be him/or I shall die”). You’d have to laugh at this song, except there were people for whom this behavior was true.–IT+MUST+BE+HIM–GREATEST+HITS+SONG+16

That Sunday, That Summer – Nat King Cole: One of Nat’s last chart appearances, this is another memory song in the “vintage wine” category (“if I had to choose/just one day/to last my whole life through/it would surely be/that Sunday/the day that I met you”). There is a touch of wistfulness in knowing the moment remembered won’t come again. The listener isn’t even certain the singer is singing directly to his lover or to her memory. Bittersweet.–That+Sunday+That+Summer

Master Jack – 4 Jacks And A Jill: This group hailed from South Africa and, in 1968, it’s apparent even in that oppressive society, this new generation was questioning what the elders were saying (“you taught me all those things/the way you’d like them to be/but I’d like to see/if other people agree/it’s all very interesting/the way you disguise/but I’d like to see the world/through my own eyes”). Concepts of the adults are in the crosshairs, and they began to fall as this generation came into power.–Master+Jack+Jun+’68–HQ+Stereo+Dub

Eleanor Rigby – The Beatles: Could this be the theme of the generation? This pair of lonely people, the dowager and the priest, are isolated and performing meaningless tasks (“darning his socks in the night/when there’s nobody there/what does he care”). They interact with each other only after her death. How could you not feel for them both? The string quartet was a masterstroke, as both brilliant songwriting and a representation of the moods of these two shouldn’t-be-strangers: A solemn end to this collection.

More to come…


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