Mixing Up the Kennedys

Have no idea what this is all about? Check out the exposition.

Most of the music on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 Songs came out during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. That’s a good place to start.

Here’s what I came up for a playlist that should describe the years between John Kennedy’s presidential campaign and his brother’s assassination.

1. Wonderful World — 1960 — Sam Cooke
2. Presidential Debate — 1960 — Kennedy, Nixon
3. The Twist — 1960 — Chubby Checker
4. Television and the Public Interest — 1961 — Newton Minow
5. Green Onions — 1962 — Booker T. and the M.G.S.
6. “Don’t Wait for the Translation” — 1962 — Adlai Stevenson
7. Boom Boom — 1962 — John Lee Hooker
8. First American In Earth Orbit — 1962 — Lt. Col. John Glenn
9. One Fine Day — 1963 — The Chiffons
10. I Have a Dream — 1963 — Martin Luther King, Jr.
11. Blowin’ In The Wind — 1963 — Bob Dylan
12. Announcement that JFK was shot — 1963 — (Radio Broadcast)
13. Then He Kissed Me — 1963 — The Crystals
14. On Black Power — 1964 — Malcolm X
15. Hello Dolly — 1964 — Louis Armstrong
16. Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out — 1964 — Timothy Leary
17. I Get Around — 1964 — The Beach Boys
18. On the Civil Rights Bill — 1964 — Lyndon B. Johnson
19. A Hard Day’s Night — 1964 — The Beatles
20. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution — 1964 — Wayne Morse
21. House of the Rising Sun — 1964 — The Animals
22. Government is the Problem — 1964 — Ronald Reagan
23. Baby Love — 1964 — The Supremes
24. Campaign Address — 1964 — Barry Goldwater
25. Leader Of The Pack — 1964 — The Shangri-Las
26. Wild Thing — 1966 — The Troggs
27. Address to the Nation — 1968 — Lyndon B. Johnson
28. The Dock Of The Bay — 1968 — Otis Redding
29. On the Assassination of MLKJr. — 1968 — Robert F. Kennedy
30. Son Of A Preacher Man — 1968 — Dusty Springfield
31. Eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy — 1968 — Edward Kennedy
32. Sympathy for the Devil — 1968 — The Rolling Stones

I would have liked to include Eisenhower’s farewell address, that one that warned against the military-industrial complex, but the Nixon-Kennedy debate made for a stronger opening statement.

Because there was such a wealth of appropriate music for this almost-decade, I established one more mental rules: No band or solo musical artist may be represented more than once in each mix. That said, I felt obligated to include the iconic musical artists in each playlist — The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones are each included.

I had some fun putting this together.

Remember those innovative presidential television debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960? In unware irony, Nixon himself waxes poetic in one of them that future historians would note that “one or the other of us was elected and that he was, or was not, a great president.”

He caps his argument with an especially ironic statement when considering the legacies of each president: “The next president, as he leads America and the free world, can be only as great as the American people are great.”

Judging him by his own words, Richard Nixon represents America’s opportunist crooks.

There’s more represented here than just presidential politics, though.

Who could forget, upon hearing it, Newton Minow’s indictment of the “vast wasteland” that was television? Ironic to hear this now, knowing that he said this back in the days of rabbit-ear attennas and three broadcast channels.

Or when, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Adlai Stevenson told the Soviet ambassador not to wait for the translation?

Or simply the announcement that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated?

Or Sen. Wayne Morse‘s questioning of the morality of the Vietnam War?

It’s a shame I limited myself to 80 minutes for practical that’s-how-long-a-CD-is reasons. I just had to throw in a last few famous remarks. There was Lyndon Johnson’s statement that he wouldn’t seek re-election, Robert Kennedy’s statement on Martin Luther King’s assassination, and Ted Kennedy’s eulogy for his brother Robert Kennedy, once the latter Kennedy was assassinated.

I just had to close the mix with Sympathy for the Devil, the 1968 Rolling Stones hit. There was one line in the lyrics that added a nice little coda to it all.


“I shouted out, ‘Who killed the Kennedys?’ / When after all, it was you and me.”


  1. 1 Nixon Goes To Washington « On the Tenure Track

    […] 20, 2008 in The Way It WereTags: 1968, 1970s, class, daley, mix, nixon, project, riots, songs We left off with the first half of the 1968 campaign, and Robert Kennedy’s […]

  2. 2 Face for Radio « On the Tenure Track

    […] Right now, I’m listening to a shuffled playlist of my top rated songs in iTunes. In a matter of minutes, it goes from Nobuo Uematsu to the stuff from Johnny Cash’s second comeback, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Dr. Demento, from Spoon to Aqua. That doesn’t even get into my other playlists. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: