The 1960s wouldn’t have been the same without all the hippie songs from that time period. It’s hard to imagine that decade and not picture young people with long hair and tie-dye t-shirts.
Whether you like this rock era or not, its legacy is undeniable. The hippie ethos of communal living and harmony with nature influenced future generations.
Join us as we mellow out, hold hands, and feel the peaceful vibes of some great songs from the 60s.
About the 1960s Hippie Movement
What is a hippie? In current culture, some people use the term to describe pacifist rockers who smoke a lot of weed, wear baggy clothes and have messy hair. But the 1960s hippie movement meant something of much more substance.
After World War II, a generation of anti-war counterculturalists called beatniks dominated New York City and San Francisco. They loved jazz, and they were hip. But that was the 1950s.
As the 1960s rolled in, and threats of drafting young men to war came about, youth rebelled by growing their hair long. Artists like Bob Dylan and The Beatles were crossover bands. But the long hairs weren’t as hip as these cats were. So, they were called hippies. And they stood for love, peace, and community.
The Grateful Dead epitomized everything useful about the 1960s hippie counterculture. They lived communally and played benefit gigs for civil rights organizations like the Black Panthers.
Some might reduce the 1960s hippie movement to sex and psychedelic drugs on the streets of San Francisco. But it was much more than that. The music brought people together. And 1960s hippie songs were about change for the better. It helped advance the civil rights movement and challenged outdated political agendas. And they were indeed groovy times!
Greatest 1960s Hippie Songs
It’s hard to list the greatest 1960s hippie songs because the movement was all about collective power and community. No one song should be seen as better than another. With that said, we’ll carry that spirit as we list five great hippie songs in no particular order.
About the Song: Folksinger Joni Mitchell wrote Woodstock in 1969 while sitting in her hotel room in New York City. Although Mitchell was a perfect fit for the festival, her manager advised her to perform elsewhere. Although Mitchell missed out, she wrote a song that perfectly captured the monumental three-day hippie event.
Mitchell and singer Graham Nash were dating at the time. So Joni heard all about the wonder and peaceful vibes from her boyfriend, who performed at the festival. After Mitchell released her version in early 1970, Nash followed suit. The Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young cover was more upbeat and less lamentable. So it’s not surprising that their version became a hippie rock staple.
Woodstock is about a concertgoer’s spiritual journey to the festival. The chorus tells us we’re all one together, part of the vast universe, and that the looming cold war isn’t the answer. While this song technically came out after the 1960s ended, it sums up so much about the hippie movement of that decade.
We are stardust, we are golden We are billion-year-old carbon And we got to get ourselves Back to the garden
#2 San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)
About the Song: If there ever was a more sweet and tender one-hit wonder, we want to know what it is. This 1960s hippie song embodies all that was right with flower power. The lyrics ask if you’re going to San Francisco, the new safe haven for peaceful living, be sure to wear flowers in your hair. It would signal to others that you’re part of the peace and love train.
Singer-songwriter John Phillips from the Mamas & the Papas wrote this 1967 single in about 20 minutes. Word got out that local authorities were worried about hippies invading Monterey, California, for an upcoming festival. So Phillips wanted to squash any concerns. Scott McKenzie sang the tune, which charted number one six weeks after its release.
If you're going to San Francisco Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair If you're going to San Francisco You're gonna meet some gentle people there
#3 All You Need is Love
About the Song: John Lennon stood for revolution and change for the better. As the second primary writer for The Beatles, Lennon’s angles were usually more political. And McCartney was more of a pop guy. When it came time to bring a song to the international TV project called Our World, The Beatles went with Lennon’s bleeding heart.
All You Need is Love is self-explanatory. The title says it all. And it expressed the 1967 hippie love song vibe perfectly.
The live performance aired on the BBC just after the Arab-Israeli six-day war. The Beatles purposefully sang with a room full of well-known musicians to boost a sense of community. Other artists in the room included Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, and Patty Boyd.
The Beatles released All You Need is Love as a stand-alone single in July 1967.
(Love) There's nothing you can know that isn't known (Love) Nothing you can see that isn't shown (Love) There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be It's easy
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#4 Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In
About the Song: By the time The 5th Dimension released Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In, they were already Motown sweethearts. But this 1969 hit brought them international success. Written for the rock opera Hair, Aquarius echoed the 1960s hippie mantra that the time to rise is now.
According to astrologers, we’re about to be in the age of Aquarius. Theoretically, this means the human race is moving into a time of ‘we’ instead of ‘me.’ The problem is that no one seems to be able to say when this special age starts. Or if it has already begun.
But The 5th Dimension didn’t care about the details. They just wanted to write an inspiring song empowering the youth of the 1960s to resist the Vietnam War.
When the moon is in the Seventh House And Jupiter aligns with Mars Then peace will guide the planets And love will steer the stars
#5 Blowin’ in the Wind
About the Song: By many accounts, Blowin’ in the Wind is the greatest 1960s hippie song ever written. As a whole piece, it’s brilliant poetry and music. Bob Dylan seemed to channel knowledge of intense precision through his words. We know we’re going hard on our opinion here. But give Blowin’ in the Wind at least two listens. Dylan broke the mold with this great song.
The poetic tune asks us the hard questions we must face as a civil and gentle society. If, that is, what we long to be. How many people must die before we stop the killing? Dylan asks how much planetary destruction must happen before we save the Earth. And when he says the answer is blowin’ in the wind, he’s essentially saying all is lost.
This 1963 hippie protest song has gone far beyond winning Grammys and Silver certifications. It’s also sung in church, taught in schools, and continues to be tensely inspirational.
Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist 'Fore it is washed to the sea? Yes, and how many years can some people exist Before they're allowed to be free?
Hippie Songs of the 1960s Tell Stories of the Decade
Where would we be without the impactful and passionate 1960s hippie songs? We understand the style isn’t for everyone. And the excessive drugs and promiscuity of the era certainly caused some trouble.
But the hippie movement stood for goodwill toward all living beings. Some of the songs are truly sweet and beautiful. All we are asking is to give it a chance.
What’s your favorite song from the 1960s hippie movement? Let us know in the comments.