July 31 – Midsummer Odds ‘n Ends

It’s time to wrap up another month.  July was a big month for major releases, but there are plenty more to come in the back half of 1968.  This project has been a lot of fun so far, and I hope I’ve been doing these releases justice.  Here are some other noteworthy July ’68 releases and events before we head into the grind of August:

7/5  Tyrannosaurus Rex – My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair…But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows

This was the debut of Marc Bolan’s band, yet to be called simply T. Rex.  As often seems to be the case, retrospective reviews of the album are kinder than the originals.


7/7  The Yardbirds final show took place at the College of Technology in Luton, Bedfordshire, supported by the Linton Grae Sound.  Within weeks, Jimmy Page would assemble the New Yardbirds, a.k.a., Led Zeppelin.


7/19  Family – Music in a Doll’s House

Another debut, this one by the English progressive rock band Family.  Family is one of those bands I feel I should know more about by now, but I really don’t (other than Ric Grech’s involvement).  They’re on my mental list of perhaps unjustly undercelebrated prog bands to check out, which also includes the likes of Gentle Giant and Soft Machine.  For an excellent critique of this album, check out fellow blogger Zumpoem’s write-up.


7/22  Merle Haggard – Single:  Mama Tried

The title track and first single from his new album released three months later, Mama Tried became a beloved country song and a cornerstone of Haggard’s career.  Though not purely autobiographical, it is based on his time as an inmate at San Quentin.  It reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart as well as #1 in Canada.   It won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, and was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its “cultural, historic, or artistic significance” on March 23, 2016, just 14 days before Haggard’s death.  The track has been covered by other artists many times.  My favorite cover is the Grateful Dead’s.  They performed the song live over 300 times.







January 2-6 – Richie Havens and Merle Haggard

Richie Havens – Something Else Again

I wish I could say I’ve seen live all the musicians I’ll discuss in this blog.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen a handful of them, and in the case of Richie Havens I was able to meet him as well.  He radiated just as much grace and peace while chatting with me and signing my copy of his debut album Mixed Bag as he did on stage.

This followup to that fantastic 1966 debut came in January.  While Havens is best known for his unique and very tasteful covers of songs by other major songwriters, the opening track was written by Richie and covered two years later by Yes on their Time and a Word album.  There will be more on Havens come August of 1969 when he opened Woodstock with a very memorable and courageous performance.


January 2

Merle Haggard – Sing Me Back Home

After all my prefacing about my music interests and the incredible rock music from 1968 to be discussed, one of my first official posts on a 1968 release is about…a country album?  I won’t pretend to be very knowledgeable about country music.  Growing up, country music was for the shit kickers at the back of the school bus who spat tobacco juice into their communal Folgers can strategically placed on the floor in the aisle.  Johnny and Willie, o.k., but the rest of it?  No thanks.  Thankfully I’ve come around, at least with some of the classics.  I saw Merle Haggard a few years back when he opened for Dylan.  I quickly came to view it as a twin bill because on that night I thought Merle was better than Bob, and I consider myself a fairly serious Dylan fan.  I was driving through Muskogee, OK a couple of years ago and noticed a billboard advertising a country music festival to be headlined by the Okie himself that June.  Sadly, Merle had passed away on his 79th birthday, April 9.  The billboard remained up for some time.


The title track to that January 2, 1968 release spent a couple weeks at #1 on Billboard’s country chart, and was written in tribute to a fellow inmate of Haggard’s at San Quentin where he spent three years:


January 6

On this date, the Gibson Guitar Corp. patented the Flying V guitar.

Jimi Hendrix _ live.jpg