When you listen to the word hippie you might think of rainbows, peace & love, vivid colored overalls, bellbottom jeans, or even sexual freedom.
Although those aspects take part in hippie culture they are not the only ones.
Music plays an important role in hippie culture from its first appearance in the early 60s and up to the present.
Music styles such as folk and psychedelic rock were cornerstones of the movement but musical experimentation was what defined the genre better.
Therefore, we will give a list of 21 great hippie songs that transcend any era.
Besides, you will have a short description for each track, facts, and the link to listen to them.
1. Let It Be – The Beatles
The list opens with perhaps the most representative hippie group. Released in 1970, Let It Be was inspired by a dream that Paul McCartney had
Although it is thought that the phrase “Mother Mary” was a biblical reference, it refers to Paul’s mother who died when he was a young boy.
In the sweet dream, Mary shows up and speaks words of wisdom to help Paul who was having a difficult time.
2. Light My Fire – The Doors
Light My Fire is The Doors’ signature song, included in their first album launched the American group to superstardom.
The idea of the composition came when Robby Krieger wanted to write something about four elements and as he loved the song Play With Fire he choose fire.
3. California Dreamin’ – Mamas and the Papas
In 1965, Michelle and John Phillips were living in New York but they missed their hometown.
One of the most representative sixties songs might be California Dream, a piece that was born due to homesickness and the desire of being in another place.
4. Sound Of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
This piece has a particular story, their performers Simon & Garfunkel released the song in 1964 and expressed the feeling of dismay after Kennedy’s assassination.
The original song was an acoustic version included in their first album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. but unfortunately, the song and album flopped.
After selling only 2000 copies, the musicians split up but the discographic took advantage of the folk movement during the 60s and overdubbed the song by adding electric instruments.
This new version made a hit of The Sound Of Silence and Simon & Garfunkel got back together.
5. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
In late 1966, this Canadian-American group released the single of this piece.
Contrary to most artists at that time, For What It’s Worth is about anti-loitering laws instead of anti-war beliefs.
Buffalo Springfield did not include the song in their first studio album but after becoming a popular hit replaced the song Baby Don’t Scold Me in later reissues.
6. Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan
The incredible Bob Dylan sent such a powerful message through this track. Blowin’ In The Wind from the album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan expresses the ideas of freedom, and peace and opposes war.
Despite being thought of as a protest song the singer claimed that he didn’t do that kind of song, just through some rhetorical questions he brought these topics to listeners’ minds.
It is said that Dylan wrote the piece in less than ten minutes by putting lyrics to an old slave song called No More Auction Block.
7. Break On Through (To The Other Side) – The Doors
Break On Through was the first released song of the group and in comparison with the following tracks, it had a discrete success.
However, as the years pass by, the song became really popular and a rock anthem.
Jim Morrison was known for his taste for breaking established order, chaos, and disorder and he showed all that in this piece.
When talking about hippie songs this track is essential.
8. Imagine – John Lennon
One of the most influential musicians in history interpreted this ballad which was written by his wife Yoko Ono.
Although it was published in 1971 in the USA, was not released until 1975 in the United Kingdom.
Imagine promoted the ideals of unity and convergence among all human beings.
Besides, it is thought of as the most acclaimed song post-Beatles and the most beautiful Lennon gift to the world.
9. Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
The 60s was an extraordinary era for hippies and in 1965 Bob Dylan came up with a song that was revolutionary at that time.
Contrary to the popular belief The Rolling Stones weren’t named after Like a Rolling Stone.
The song’s name comes from the proverb “a rolling stone gathers no moss” and the track tells the story of a girl who becomes a loner after falling out of high class.
It is a severe setback and as the mentioned proverb says, you will have no responsibilities and no status either.
10. Somebody To Love – Jefferson Airplane
Opposing the free-love trend in the mid-60s, Jefferson Airplane released this song in 1967.
Although the song is originally made by the band The Great Society, Somebody To Love was popularized by Jefferson Airplane.
The track encourages people to find their true love, the one that will take care of them and make them happy.
Alongside White Rabbit, this piece is the biggest commercial success of the band.
11. All Along The Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
If we talk about great hippie songs, we cannot leave aside one of the most iconic representatives of that style.
Despite being an original Bob Dylan song, All Along The Watchtower became popular thanks to Jimi Hendrix’s cover.
The song depicts a conversation between two surreal characters: the joker and the thief.
They discuss life issues from each one’s perspective, mentioning the loss of natural resources and the influence of rich people on mindless consumerism.
12. Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
The British group Cream created this song during a whole night session, they started playing the main riff and as the sun was slowly rising the lyrics came up.
Sunshine Of Your Love was really acclaimed at that time, even Jimi Hendrix made a cover for that song.
This psychedelic rock band was one of the cornerstones of hippie music.
In addition to that, this track was the best-sold single of Cream.
13. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
Another iconic musical piece by a fantastic, well-known group.
Up to this point, The Rolling Stones need no presentation and neither does their song Gimme Shelter.
A fantastic track that alludes to the atrocities led during the Vietnam war (riots and Charles Manson).
It is considered one of the best recordings by the British group and even in rock history.
14. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
15. Time Of The Season – The Zombies
16. Turn! Turn! Turn! – The Byrds
17. I’m a Believer – The Monkees
18. Little Wing – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
19. For Your Love – The Yardbirds
20. Woodstock – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
21. Heart Of Gold – Neil Young
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.