Best of the Rest of the Top 40: 1968

Our survey brings us now to 1968, which, in the year-end charts, is one of the most rock-heavy we’ve seen, with the psychedelic sound beginning to give birth to heavy metal, along with a little bit of country, soul, and some other mixed gems. No need to dig deeper down the chart this time, as we’re left with 27 songs after the #1s have been eliminated.

What’s your favorite?

Previous polls: 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967

Best #1 single polls: 1955-56 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s All-time

I chose ‘Fire’ over Cream. Both were great albums of their time, but Arthur Brown was such an unusual artist that I have a soft spot for the guy and that album. C’mon, the dude was lowered by a cable to the stage, sporting a horned helmet shooting fire. He managed to set fire to the stage curtains and the metal helmet burned his scalp. How cool is that?

Ooooh tough call between “Born To Be Wild” and “Fire.”

I can’t let the fact that I’m thoroughly bored with “Born to be Wild” influence my decision.

Ah hell, I’m going with Arthur Brown. I love that song too much not to choose it.

I had to go with Sly and the Fam. That song is still in my shuffle and I still turn up the volume every time it comes on. That’s standing the test of time in my book.

Very tough choice. In addition to Born To Be Wild and Fire, I also loved Midnight Confessions – even had one or two DJs in local clubs trained to play it as soon as they saw me coming. But I ended up going with Born To Be Wild because it seemed most emblematic of the era. Gotta say though that I was surprised to see Fire on the list and to see that it got votes. I rarely heard it on the radio, although I loved it when I did.

This was a tough choice between Sunshine of Your Love and Born to be Wild; I wound up voting for the former.

Believe it or not, it peaked at #2 in the US and sold over a million 45s - it was only the phenomenon that was “Hey Jude” that stopped it from topping the chart.

Lots of great songs to choose from, but I went with the Temptations. David Ruffin’s voice is amazing in I Wish it Would Rain.

Cream - Sunshine Of Your Love

One of the first guitar riffs I learnt.

Smapti: I’m not sure how these lists are determined, but why have I not seen Hendrix on any of them? While Purple Haze incredibly only hit #65 in 1967, All Along The Watchtower was in the top 20 in 1968.

What we’re using here is the year-end chart, which averages sales and airplay over 52 weeks, and Hendrix never charted on it. Going through every song to reach the Top 40 on the weekly charts would just make these polls way too bloated - in 1968, for example, there were 97 songs that charted just in the Top 10.

I picked Sly & the Family Stone over Cream and Steppenwolf but I couldn’t find the song I really wanted to vote for: the Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash”. I knew that song hit the Top 5 in 1968 and thought for sure it would make the Top 40 for the whole year.

I am torn in a bunch of different directions. Among them:

Sunshine of Your Love - an excellent song by one of Clapton’s best bands.
Stoned Soul Picnic - one of the Fifth Dimension’s best. (But I don’t see “Sweet Blindness,” which is my favorite Fifth Dimension song. That was in 1968.)
Midnight Confessions - of all the more schmaltzy pop groups of the sixties, the Grass Roots may have been the best. I still find more than a few of their songs worth listening to.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - this one probably won’t get much love, but dammit, I like it.
Angel of the Morning - same deal.
I Wish It Would Rain - the Temptations. 'Nuff said.
Born To Be Wild = there are a fair number of songs that evoke The Sixties. This one is near the top.
A Beautiful Morning - I know this one’s been overplayed, but I love The Rascals. Side 2 of their Time Peace collection (yeah, I still have it on vinyl) is a thing of joy, and this is the capstone.

And I left out “Cry Like a Baby” (I like the Box Tops a lot too) and “Fire” which is a bit too novelty-type of a song to be the best of this group, even though I like it.

Tough choice.

Sly & The Family Stone blows away the rock songs on this list.

Same for me except different - I voted for Born to Be Wild for sheer awesomeness.


Once again Tommy James and the Shondells. One of the all time great overlooked pop rockers.

It only made #50. The fact that it was outsold by “Simon Says,” “1-2-3- Red Light,” “I’m a Girl Watcher,” and “Yummy Yummy Yummy,” not to mention friggin’ *“Honey,” *tells you all you need to know about our society.

Anyway, how can you *not *vote for the God of Hell Fire?

Got it. For some reason, I never copped to the fact that Hendrix was so poorly regarded by most listeners in his own time. I was so blown away by his brilliance at the time, I guess it never occurred to me that others thought he was an outlier of some sort; although the guy in the cubical next to me in 'Nam once asked me, incredulously, “So, you actually like that stuff?”. I mean, the single “Purple Haze” had “The Wind Cries Mary” on the B side, for cripes sake! If he ever thinks about that time, he probably thinks that I was ahead of my time, musically. :smiley:

I went through the same dilemma many of the rest of you did - Cream vs. Steppenwolf vs. Arthur Brown. These are three great songs that really encapsulate the way rock was changing by the end of the '60s, where we’re beginning to see psychedelia, electric blues, and power pop come together to form heavy metal.

I ultimately went with Steppenwolf, because it’s a great song to rock out to on the highway, and for its historical influence (in fact, it contains the earliest known use of the phrase “heavy metal” in reference to music).

“Mony Mony” and “Spooky” also get honorable mentions in my book.

I can. I have to listen to a few songs I don’t recognize before I can vote, but I have already exceeded my maximum lifetime hearings of “Born to Be Wild.”