Fourteen Songs That Rocked the Radio in 1968

1968 was a sociopolitical crossroads at which a war, political schisms, activism, youth culture, style, the arts and the widening gender gap all converged in a fast moment of change. The exhibit 1968: The Year That Rocked History at History Colorado, which officially opens to the public on Saturday, February 7, at the History Colorado Center, brings all of those divergent directions together; in advance of the show's debut, we're rolling out a suite of lists to prep you for the 1968 experience.

To understand the music of 1968, you have to first understand the year as a turning point where Top 40 hits collided with the age of crafted albums and underground radio. Top 40 was all about the song -- rock, folk, soul, funk, r&b and country tunes mingled freely across the airwaves -- while albums of the late '60s became more complex, with tunes that stretched out and segued into each other. Following is a sampler of what we were listening to in 1968.

See also: Seven Films That Opened Our Eyes in 1968

14) Cream: "Sunshine of Your Love" From the 1967 breakout album Disraeli Gears but released as a single in '68, "Sunshine of Your Love" is driven by Cream's blend of poetry and pure power -trio sonics. As a band whose members always seemed to be working with -- and against -- one another in a web of dynamic tension, the amalgam of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker still sounds fresh decades later. "Sunshine of Your Love" breaks the aesthetic down to its true nitty gritty.

13) The Beatles: "Hey Jude"

Originally written by Paul McCartney for John Lennon's son Julian during a rocky time, "Hey Jude" was a sing-along Beatles anthem/ballad in its purest form, stretching out in the familiar repeated coda of "Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude" -- an ear worm if ever there was one. Everyone needs a sad song that makes things better; "Hey Jude" served that purpose in 1968. It was also the first single released by Apple Records and was named Billboard's tenth-biggest song of all time in 2013.

12) Otis Redding: (Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay"

"The Dock of the Bay" was an unintentional swan song for one of the period's most revered soul singers -- Otis Redding recorded the tune, which he wrote with a Stax regular, the groove-worthy guitarist Steve Cropper, in late 1967, and a few days later died in a plane crash. Released early in 1968, "Dock of the Bay" blasted to the top of the charts, a fitting -- and peaceful -- tribute to a major talent.

Continue reading for more songs that rocked 1968.

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