Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cheers, Pitchfork!

Pitchfork Media has its share of critics, but probably no more than its fair share. The site can be as pedantic as perceptive, inept as astute, elitist as populist, and, truth be told, as fallible and unreadable as the publications it seeks to supplant, or at least supplement. But hats off to Pitchfork for their \“200 Greatest Songs of the ‘60s” feature.

Rather than tackle that decade’s best albums, the site sensibly focused on singles, which in itself is no small feat. Really, between the Stones, Beatles, Motown, Stax, Phil Spector and a few other ringers (Kinks, Beach Boys), coming up with 200 great songs from just a handful of sources is a cinch. That Pitchfork came up with an eclectic, diverse and occasionally surprising list of obvious selections and more obscure picks that sounds absolutely nothing like the staid soundtracks of so many mini-series and nostalgia-driven movies says a lot of the effort put into the project, and the comments each writer submitted are more often than not totally on the money.

Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” in between Sly Stone’s “Everyday People” and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man?” Steve Reich’s “It’s Gonna Rain” next to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking,” followed by “Victoria,” by the Kinks? Sure, why not? It was some decade, one that made room for Terry Riley and Albert Ayler alongside the Supremes and CCR, the Byrds, Beatles and Bob Dylan alongside the Stooges, MC5 and Sonics. Desmond Dekker and David Bowie. “White Rabbit” and “Stand By Me.” Nina Simone, the Velvet Underground and the themes from “Doctor Who” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Patsy Cline. “96 Tears,” “A Day in the Life” and “God Only Knows.”

The methodology may be mysterious, but I must admit, the song selection makes for one of the best 13-hour mix tapes I’ve ever heard. It’s the soundtrack not to the ‘60s but to several different ‘60s, each equally fascinating and fabulous. At least for the time being, you can download it all here.


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