The swinging 60s might be more than half a century ago now, but their revolutionary impact still remains to this day. Whether you were Team Beatles or Team Stones, the two bands still stand as arguably the biggest this country has ever produced, but there were more to these years than just John and Jagger. From the hit machine and conveyor belt of in-house stars produced by Motown to the burgeoning, melon-twisting dawn of psychedelia, it was a decade of exploration and experimentation. Here are the tracks that defined it... Words by Matthew Horton, Tim Chester, Priya Elan. 100 best tracks of the '60s - Spotify playlist

90Wooden Ships

Mellow as yellow custard, folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash's 'Wooden Ships' hides its anti-war message in plain sight, drifting by on noodly guitars, caressed by Stephen Stills' delicate organ-playing. Stills and David Crosby wrote the song with Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner and both bands released the song in 1969 as the Vietnam War reached its hopeless peak.

89Tin Soldier

Perhaps it doesn't quite get the props it deserves, but 'Tin Soldier' is a blistering shot of rock-soul that sounds meaty now – let alone in 1967. Written to woo singer Steve Marriott's future wife Jenny Rylance, it was offered to PP Arnold who declined but turned up to the Small Faces' sessions to add fire and ballast to the chorus.

88She's Not There

With the groovy panache of a jazz track, 'She's Not There' gave St Albans rockers The Zombies a No.12 UK (and Top 10 US) hit with their debut single. Songwriter Rod Argent drives the song on with his electric piano while Colin Blunstone strains for the vocal as the song gives early warning of The Zombies' accomplished pop skills, later realised on legendary album 'Odessey And Oracle'.

87So Long, Marianne

Laughing Len once sang in a honey-smeared pop register before trilbies and dodgy accountants had taken their toll. Here on his debut album 'Songs Of Leonard Cohen' he bids farewell to Marianne, his love and muse throughout the 60s, with a pristine bit of poetry and a typically stately and swinging folk-pop arrangement.

86Bonnie And Clyde

Fresh from persuading Serge Gainsbourg not to release their version of 'Je T'Aime…Moi Non Plus', Brigitte Bardot again teamed up with the oily old goat to release this wonderfully louche, hypnotic (and occasionally tuneless) tribute to the gun-toting outlaw couple. It's been covered by sometime Go-Go Belinda Carlisle and sampled by Kylie Minogue.

85Dancing In The Street

The story goes that Martha Reeves' peerless call to party was actually an incitement to riot as black residents of Harlem fought pitched battles against white police officers in its month of release. But the dates don't work and there's too much joy in this kinetic blast of a record. It wasn't even ruined by Mick Jagger and David Bowie in 1985. OK, it nearly was.

84We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

A product of the Brill Building hothouse of pop songwriters, 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place' was initially marked up for The Righteous Brothers, who would've got the brooding right but never had the grubby, throaty force Eric Burdon brings to the job, nor The Animals' stealthy blues groove. In the end this just missed out on the UK top spot to The Beatles' 'Help!'

83Bus Stop

This one came from the end of Graham Gouldman, later one quarter of 10cc, who was inspired by gazing at the – yes – bus stop on his way to work. It's performed on a bleak scale by Manchester's finest The Hollies but is an ever-turning song of hope about the nice young lady in the queue who, by August, "was mine".

82Cinnamon Girl

Neil Young's first single with backing band Crazy Horse is a nice juxtaposition of the prim harmonies of Buffalo Springfield and Young's later searing rock. While Young sings as politely as before, the guitars riff and buzz with menace, setting out a whole new stall. 'Cinnamon Girl' was later covered by Smashing Pumpkins and Motörhead.

81I'd Rather Go Blind

The late, great Etta James had hit the skids by the late-60s, frittering away a decent career with a devastating heroin addiction – but there was enough faith in her voice to give her another go on her recovery. Working at Muscle Shoals in Alabama, James delivered 'At Last' and this, a real body blow of a standard that loses none of its emotional heft no matter how often it's covered.

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