Music has a powerful connection to nostalgia. No matter your age, when certain songs come on the radio, you are transported through time. All the way back to your high school days. Back to college parties. Even life-changing moments can be linked to a song. The boomer generation grew through some of the most significant periods in the history of music and many of the classic songs which mean so much to so many are still listened to today. So let’s take a look at some of those defining songs of the boomers era that will take you back in time.
“I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles
You cannot discuss the music of the boomer’s generation without talking about The Beatles. Their music could almost be looked at as the soundtrack for these times with the phenomenon that surrounded them becoming something that hadn’t been seen in the music industry before or since. This song seems to go right along with the images of the “British Invasion” – the band playing on Ed Sullivan’s stage, girls chasing them down the streets – it cemented their legendary status.
“Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The all-important music question that emerged from this era. The answer for which you prefer changes from person to person. And though they are both immensely influential British bands, the choices couldn’t be more different. The Stones represented a more rebellious, outlaw alternative to The Beatles and this song demonstrated that in-your-face attitude they still exude to this day.
“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
The boomers grew up in a time of great political change and it was reflected in juts about every aspect of their culture, including – and sometimes especially – in the music that defined their generation. Marvin Gaye’s hypnotic and poignant song was a very literal question about the times and how certain people were treated. Its message remains as powerful today.
“Fortunate Son” by Credence Clearwater Revival
Like Marvin Gaye, there were plenty of musicians who expressed their political views through their art, and one of the most popular topics was the massively unpopular and deadly war in Vietnam. This was one of the biggest and most blunt anti-war songs, taking aim at the hypocrisy of politicians sending their poorest citizens to fight a foreign war.
“Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan
The boomer era of music featured a great many movements to the industry with ground-breaking and visionary artists coming in to change the game. One of the earliest examples was the so-called beatnik movement with saw a swell of artists go for simpler musical arrangements with a focus on philosophical messages. Dylan was the undisputed king of this movement and this song hit at some of the larger themes he would often return to, such as inequality and changing of the tides.
“Light My Fire” by The Doors
Following closely behind the beatnik movement was the psychedelic movement. It was partially birthed out of Vietnam and strengthened by the perceived drug-fuelled culture of the hippie era. The Doors and specifically their ethereal frontman Jim Morrison were massively influential. This song was not only one of their biggest hits, but also seems to echo the movement. It starts with a quiet, hypnotic hum that builds and builds in intensity.
“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
Then came rock n’ roll – and it was here to stay. Many of the biggest bands of the movement took influences from older music but the most long-standing of them created something new. So it was with Led Zeppelin who helped to create the rock n’ roll lifestyle and the headbanging culture around it. This epic and blood-pumping masterpiece remains a rock staple even in the modern sense.
“Respect” by Aretha Franklin
Yes, there is an overwhelming abundance of men on this list, but the era not only saw female artists not only rival the biggest male stars of the time in just about every genre, but also created songs of empowerment. In that sense, surely nothing could compete with Aretha Franklin and her biggest hit. Not only was she covering a song from a male, but she took that outdated message and turned it into an anthem about women getting what they deserve.
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson
Impossible to exclude the man who ushered in the pop era and became the biggest thing in music since The Beatles.
Did we forget any? Let us know which song you think defined the boomer generation.