The 50 Best Garage Rock Songs of All Time

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As far a genres go, garage rock is pretty broad. Its gritty, simplistic approach first rose to prominence in the mid ’60s, simultaneously drawing inspiration from and coexisting with everything from surf rock and psychedelia to bubblegum and British Invasion bands. It laid the groundwork for punk to take over the world in the subsequent decade, and in the early 2000s, revivalists like The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Vines and pretty much any other band beginning with “The” carried the garage torch for a new generation. Presently, artists like the Black Lips, Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees are in possession of said torch, champions of the lo-fi, DIY aesthetic who have managed to modernize the sound.

In short, “garage rock” is a very wide umbrella, one that spans 50 years and countless local scenes. The famous “I know it when I see it” Potter Stewart description of obscenity seems to apply here to the question of what, exactly, garage rock is for the purposes of this list. And, like obscenity, garage rock can be brash, off-putting and extremely satisfying. So without further ado, we give you the 50 Best Garage Rock Songs of All Time.

50. Reigning Sound, “Your Love is a Fine Thing”
These days, the Reigning Sound is putting the emphasis on their soul/R&B roots, but back when their third album Too Much Guitar was on the scene, they used those influences as a jumping off point into much more electrified, psychedelic waters. Got a new girl or boy in your life? Drop this cut on a mixtape for them, then sit back and watch the sparks fly.—Robert Ham

49. Spider Bags, “Friday Night”
Following the demise of his previous band, the wild and wayward DC Snipers, Dan McGee headed down South. After taking up residence in Chapel Hill, N.C., McGee formed Spider Bags, a group that matched the Snipers’ intensity, but threw in a healthy dose of Southern flavor for good measure. The band’s best record to date, 2012’s Shake My Head, is a boozy affair characterized by raunchy guitar solos and pleasant pop hooks. “Friday Night,” the album’s most satisfying track, showcases McGee’s intelligent pop sensibility, as well as his band’s rowdy and rambunctious inclinations.—Chris Powers

48. Harlem, “Gay Human Bones”
If garage rock has taught us anything, it is that being delightfully dumb ain’t a bad way to be. Take as a modern example this 2010 track from Austin, Texas band Harlem that’s all about a basketball team that goes by the name “Gay Human Bones.” They apparently win most of their games thanks to the good shooter that leader Michael Coomer found while stoned and hallucinating about being covered in water moccasins. None of it makes any sense, nor should we really want it to. Embrace the stupidity.—Robert Ham

47. The Kills, “Love Is a Deserter”
Unlike most garage rockers, The Kills made technology an essential part of the band: using a drum machine freed up Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince to hone the lean, serrated guitar riffs and harrowing sexual tension that was an essential part of the band before Hince married Kate Moss. “Love Is a Deserter,” from their 2005 album No Wow, is The Kills at their best: it’s a dark, electrifying surge of barely contained fury edged with a discomfiting, seductive allure.—Eric R. Danton

46. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, “Oh Lord”
If there was one word to describe California’s Brian Jonestown Massacre, it would likely be prolific. Beginning with its roots in shoegaze, the ramshackle group followed frontman Anton Newcombe’s manic aspirations toward psychedelia through the ‘90s and onward, touching on folk and our beloved garage rock along the way. “Oh Lord” is the band’s greatest contribution to garage rock’s storied history. Featuring wide-open strumming and a meandering organ lead, the tune is effectively a tribute to the ‘60s giants that Newcombe and company sought wholeheartedly to emulate.—Chris Powers

45. The Strokes, “What Ever Happened?”
Though Is This It? is often rightfully praised as a garage rock masterpiece, perhaps the best song The Strokes have written is on their often-overlooked but also excellent sophomore album Room on Fire. Beginning with the palm-muted tremolo picking of Albert Hammond Jr., “What Ever Happened?” couldn’t have been on the debut; it showed precision and complexity not previously present, without muddying the band’s sound at all. It was both instantly recognizable as The Strokes and something totally different. When Julian Casablancas exclaims “I want to be forgotten,” the fact of the matter is had Room on Fire been a stinker, it might have been easy to dismiss the band and the debut’s place in history. “What Ever Happened?” ensured that they would not be forgotten and cemented the band’s career.—Philip Cosores

44. The Raconteurs, “Salute Your Solution”
Sure, sure, Jack White and Brendan Benson…whatever. A track like this is all about the rhythm section, and this outfit had one of the best in the garage rock business: Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence of the Greenhornes. Without their fuzzy insistence and the steady swing of that high hat, poor Brendan and Jack would be lost in the wilderness with nothing but their tube amps to keep them warm.—Robert Ham

43. The Von Bondies, “C’mon C’mon”
Right after vocalist/guitarist Jason Stollsteimer became an inadvertent punching bag for former buddy Jack White, this Detroit combo took their shot for the big time with this new wave-influenced jam. The lyrics pitch it as some kind of political hullaballoo but it’s best remembered as a fist pumping sing-along foot stomper.—Robert Ham

42. Ty Segall Band, “Oh Mary”
There are many who argue that Slaughterhouse, the sludgy 2012 LP from Ty Segall and his comrades, is not a garage-rock record. True, it’s steeped in mucky blues and its frequently harmonizing guitar leads recall ‘70s hard rock legends like Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin. But at its heart, the album still showcases what makes garage rock great: a few chords and a bad attitude. And if it’s attitude you’re looking for, “Oh Mary” has it in spades.—Chris Powers

41. The Dirtbombs, “Chains of Love”
The Dirtbombs’ second full-length Ultraglide In Black arrived just in time to ride the wave of the big garage rock revival driven by fellow Detroit acts like the White Stripes. But what all of them lacked was a soulful vocalist like Mick Collins who helped turn this cover of J.J. Barnes’ 1967 lite-funk groover into something snarling, seamy and out-and-out rocking.—Robert Ham

40. Allah-Las, “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind)”
This Los Angeles-based combo, like many of the bands on this list, so ably ape the sound of ‘60s garage pop that if you told me this was some bonus cut from the Nuggets set, I might’ve believed you. This 2012 track is as quietly affecting as you please, with a perfectly buoyant bass line, jangly guitars and singer/guitarist Miles Michaud’s laconic vocal delivery.—Robert Ham

39. Thee Oh Sees, “Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster”
A blast from the last album to feature the “classic” Oh Sees lineup. And on it, the quintet goes for something a little slower, a little sultrier, and a lot heavier. Led by Dwyer’s deliriously overdriven guitar, these three-and-a-half minutes call to mind a slow motion tracking shot in a dark crime movie. Imagine Robert DeNiro in Mean Streets kicking the door open to the bar and glad-handing every patron while this blares loudly in the background.—Robert Ham

38. Mikal Cronin, “You Gotta Have Someone”
Mikal Cronin  keeps close company with garage-rock wonderkid Ty Segall, so it’s no wonder the like-minded musicians often tread onto each other’s turf when it comes to songwriting. But unlike Segall, Cronin has always been at his best when he’s crafting pristine pop melodies—and weaving impassioned harmonies behind them. “You Gotta Have Someone” perfectly illustrates the sharp dichotomy behind Cronin’s songcraft. It’s got a bubbly melody and cordial, carefree lyrics—but it also has its fair share of scuzzy, distorted guitars to boot.—Chris Powers

37. King Khan and His Shrines, “Burnin’ Inside”
This three-minute monster from King Khan builds piece by piece, with instruments joining in one after the other—drums followed by fuzz bass followed by that sweet horn section. By the midpoint, we’re under the full sway of the Shrines’ soul-R&B-garage power. And then what do these Berlin-by-way-of-Montreal misfits do? They stop and do it all over again! It’s absolute madness, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.—Robert Ham

36. Paul Revere and the Raiders, “Kicks”
Though dressing up like their Revolutionary namesake was a perfect TV gimmick for this Portland, Ore., band, “Kicks” was anything but a joke. In fact, it was a cautionary tale: trebly guitar parts frame a stick-in-your-head chorus that contained an anti-drug message, just as the counterculture was taking root. Originally written for Eric Burdon, the Animals leader turned down the song, which became a No. 1 in Canada and made it to No. 4 in the U.S. for Paul Revere & the Raiders when they released it in 1966.—Eric R. Danton

35. Flat Duo Jets, “Frog Went a Courtin’”
If you’re of a certain generation, you know this old tune as a 16th-century Scottish ballad. If you were born a couple hundred years later, you might have been singing it in the Appalachias, or maybe you heard it on Tom & Jerry. Dex Romweber, man out of time that he is, must have picked it up from Danny Dell’s ’59 barnstorming cover. Nearly half a century later, the Athens, Georgia outfit Flat Duo Jets strap a damn jetpack on that amphibian. They power through the tune at a dangerous clip, and Romweber sounds like he’s preaching fire-and-brimstone during a rain of fire and brimstone.—Stephen M. Deusner

34. Jay Reatard, “See/Saw”
A prolific and talented mainstay of the 2000s DIY garage rock movement, Reatard (born Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr.) merged his gift for effervescent hooks with a love of gritty rock ’n’ roll mayhem as a solo artist and as part of eight different bands during his too-short life. “See/Saw,” from his 2008 singles collection for Matador, is a particular standout for its churning guitar, tight melody and explosive shout-along vocals.—Eric R. Danton

33. Reigning Sound, “Let Yourself Go”
Greg Cartwright had plenty of garage rock under his belt by the time he formed Reigning Sound in 2001. The former member of the Oblivians and the Compulsive Gamblers stretched out with Reigning Sound, incorporating soul and country into the mix on his way to becoming one of the great modern songwriters. The band’s 2004 release, Too Much Guitar, was an emphatic return to the noisy mess of Cartwright’s previous bands. And “Let Yourself Go” is a no-nonsense rock song with guitars that’ll peel paint off of walls, with his soulful vocals the only thing keeping things from completely flying off the rails.—Mark Lore

32. The Nashville Teens, “Tobacco Road”
Originally penned by John D. Loudermilk in 1960, this tune perhaps most famously graced an episode of Mad Men following a characteristically bold move from Don Draper. The version heard in the episode was recorded by the Nashville Teens, a quintet hailing from Surrey, England. Featuring a searing blues lead and a thunderous back beat, “Tobacco Road” sounds and feels way ahead of its time. After all, who could possibly trace that incredible bass tone back to a track recorded by a little-known English group in 1964 if they didn’t already know better?—Chris Powers

31. Thee Oh Sees, “Meat Step Lively”
What’s best about this song? Is it the insistent jangle of tambourine that runs through the whole thing? John Dwyer’s reverb-ed out vocals? Or his guitar solo that follows the same melody as the verses but just out of tune enough to be unsettling? Maybe it’s that strange flute that shows up two-thirds of the way through the song and carries it out to the end? Listen to this song 100 times over, and you’ll find 100 different reasons to love it.—Robert Ham

30. The White Stripes, “Hello Operator”
The garage rock revival of the early 2000s was fueled in large part by The White Stripes, who fused a minimalist take on the blues to a stylized lo-fi aesthetic. It rarely sounded better than it did on “Hello Operator,” from their 2000 album De Stjil. Jack White unleashes bursts of raucous guitar and a wave of overdriven harmonica over Meg White’s precarious drumming, for an effect that’s primal and magnetic.—Eric R. Danton

29. Electric Prunes, “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night”
It was pure luck that captured the shuddering backward guitar that starts this psychedelic nugget: the band discovered the part on a rehearsal tape they were reusing, and it dovetailed perfectly into the propulsive bass line that anchors the song. The Electric Prunes, a group of friends who started playing together in high school, released the song in late 1966 as their second single, and it eventually climbed to No. 11 on the charts. One of the band’s later tunes, “Kyrie Eleison,” appeared in the 1969 movie Easy Rider. —Eric R. Danton

28. The Vertebrats, “Left in the Dark”
This Champaign-Urbana, Ill. group formed in 1979 on the campus of the University of Illinois, where they quickly became one of the crown jewels of a vibrant local music scene that still exists to this day. They broke up before having a chance to put out their debut LP, but thankfully, “Left in the Dark” found its way onto the 1981 Voxx comp Battle of the Garages and the rest, as they say, is history. This tune’s since been covered by the likes of The Replacements, Uncle Tupelo and Courtney Love—but no one does it quite like the originals.—Bonnie Stiernberg

27. The Black Lips, “Bad Kids”
This Black Lips classic off of Good Bad Not Evil serves as an anthem for the impishly bad kids of the world—good bad, not evil, as the album title suggests—who “are the minority, got no respect for authority” and probably spend a lot of time in the garage banging out gloriously unhinged rock ‘n’ roll like this.—Bonnie Stiernberg

26. Ty Segall, “Girlfriend”
The first time I heard this song explode from my speakers I knew Ty Segall was doing the devil’s work. “Girlfriend” is a blown-out and savage piece of bubblegum punk. Segall sounds distraught, sleep-deprived and utterly fried here, tempered by the song’s hand-clapped beat and sock-hopped melody. Add a jittery, one-note piano solo and these two minutes and 13 seconds sound classic and otherworldly.—Mark Lore

25. The Compulsive Gamblers, “Stop and Think it Over”
If you want to know the true marker of a great garage rock tune, do a search on YouTube and find out how many times it has been covered by other bands. By that criterion, this gem from the Compulsive Gamblers should be No. 1 on this list. It’s not hard to understand why this song is so appealing; it’s a straight, three-chord Honeycombs-like chug for the finish line with lyrics that speak to the desperate lover in all of us.—Robert Ham

24. The Sonics, “The Witch”
In a fertile Pacific Northwest scene, The Sonics stood out for their dark subject matter on songs about poison, mental illness and the occult. One of these, “The Witch,” was enough of a local hit for the Tacoma, Wash., band in 1964 that they made it the opening track on their 1965 debut, Here Are the Sonics. Built around a creepy, lurching guitar riff pinned down by low moaning saxophone, it’s a short jump from “The Witch” to the campy B-movie horror imagery of bands like The Cramps.—Eric R. Danton

23. Oblivians, “Bad Man”
Every single strain of Memphis music courses through “Bad Man,” a popular favorite from the Oblivians’ ’96 album, Popular Favorites. With its rich belches of guitar and its sordid rhythm section, the song teeters on the line between irreverent rockabilly, salacious R&B, abject-expressionist soul, moaning country and roaring punk. When Greg Oblivian (nee Cartwright) sing-screams the chorus, you wonder how he ever managed to talk again, much less keep singing the song. He sounds like every the antihero of every ‘50s juvie film choosing rock-and-roll over the good girl trying to save him.—Stephen M. Deusner

22. The Stooges, “Search and Destroy”
The Stooges just didn’t seem at home in the studio until 1970’s Fun House, but the clattering mess of “Search and Destroy” from Raw Power is a three-minute document of a band in its prime form. Iggy howls his now-perfected commands, the Ashetons’ rhythm section is on the verge of collapse, but what always amazed me was James Williamson’s wildly cathartic guitar solo—a blistering effort that makes you wonder if even he was in full control in that studio. “Search and Destroy” is what it sounds like when you let the music take over. Kids at home basing their musical education on metronomes and auto-tune should take note.—Tyler Kane

21. The Strokes, “Last Nite”
Hindsight shows us the significance of “Last Nite” and The Strokes. Not only was it a Thank-Fucking-God moment for those who’d had enough of the limp bizkits being squeezed out of rock’s rotten bowels, it also began the nü garage rock movement that included other “The” bands like The White Stripes, The Hives and The Vines. Of course, a trip to the underground would have revealed and endless bounty of garage-dwellers. But The Strokes’ debut, and this song in particular, have aged well. This is a ramshackle yet sleek chunk of New York rock.—Mark Lore

20. The Troggs, “With A Girl Like You”
There’s a reason this song gets a lot of play at weddings. Its simple romanticism (along with the line “I want to spend my life with a girl like you”) makes it an obvious choice, but “With a Girl Like You” is actually about what happens before walking down the aisle. Before you can make your crush your bride, you’ve gotta work up the nerve to ask her to dance, and given the infectious way Reg Presley sings “until that time has come that we might live as one/can I dance with you?/ba ba ba ba ba, ba ba ba ba ba,” how could she possibly say no if this song’s playing?—Bonnie Stiernberg

19. The Cramps, “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”
Lux Interior, Poison Ivy and Co. blended punk, rockabilly, garage-rock and a love of campy horror movies into one fully awesome package, as epitomized by “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.” Shivers of tremolo guitar cascade over the thudding beat as Lux yowls and sputters like a man in mid-transformation. Adding to the song’s pedigree is the fact that Big Star’s Alex Chilton produced it as part of the Cramps’ 1980 debut LP, Songs the Lord Taught Us.—Eric R. Danton

18. The Remains, “Why Do I Cry”
Like all the best lovelorn men of the world, Barry Tashian, leader of the Boston-based Remains, put the sound of his broken heart to music. He may still be pining for Mrs. Wrong, but from the sound of this agonized bluesy romp, he’s going down swinging. If that doesn’t sell you, listen for bassist Vern Miller’s fuzzy two-note solos throughout. They help recalibrate the senses and help give you that brief moment to catch your breath before you frug the night away.—Robert Ham

17. Roky Erickson, “I Walked With a Zombie”
By the time the ‘60s ended, psych-rock forefather and former 13th Floor Elevator Roky Erickson had endured horrific psychiatric treatments and retreated into his own world, writing anguished tunes full of weird, creature-feature imagery and paranoid tensions. “I Walked with a Zombie,” from his 1981 album The Evil One, is loosely based on Val Lewton’s infamous ’43 horror movie—or at least its title. Erickson and his backing band the Aliens play it as a fleet, almost magisterial blues, repeating the title over and over until it becomes a mantra—a means of warding off the undead at his door.—Stephen M. Deusner

16. The Seeds, “Pushin’ Too Hard”
Lyrically “Pushin’ Too Hard” is a textbook case in teenage resentment, as an almost 30-year-old Sky Saxon seethes about how a girl or parents or work or take your pick are stifling his fun and freedom. There’s an edge here not found in most garage songs, though—this isn’t a group of college friends playing for beer and sex, but a frantic two-chord rush through a desperate, paranoid mind.—Garrett Martin

15. MC5, “Kick Out the Jams”
There’s a reason the Motor City Five named its debut after this punishing song, and that reason is a battle cry that would ring on for decades after its release: “KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKER!” These proto-punks are the reason Detroit is a firm pin in the Map of Classic Garage Rock, and you can see the city’s effect in the band’s very qualities. The MC5, aside from being the most brutal band to emerge from the ‘60s, was a blue-collar, rowdy, thoughtful, soulful, political act, and “Kick Out the Jams” is undoubtedly its best-known offering.—Tyler Kane

14. The Kinks, “All Day and All of the Night”
I can only imagine the thrill of hearing this song for the first time in 1964 (!) and having my brain reduced to soup. That opening riff is a mean, snarling beast even 50 years (!) later. “All Day and All of the Night” came on the heels of their breakthrough single “You Really Got Me” (and is far superior), employing a similar guitar attack from Ray Davies. And although that’s what this song is built on, brother Dave Davies’ solo is just as vicious. Every rock band worth their salt has essentially been writing newer, lesser versions of it ever since.—Mark Lore

13. Them, “Gloria”
Perhaps the closest thing we have to a garage-rock standard, Them’s “Gloria” has been covered by everyone from fellow early garage pioneers like the Bobby Fuller Four and The 13th Floor Elevators to Patti Smith, The Doors, David Bowie and AC/DC. It’s the song that introduced the world to the legendary Van Morrison, who was just 18 when he wrote this track and notorious for ad-libbing on live performances of it, sometimes stretching the simple three-chord song all the way into a 15-minute saga. You don’t even have to be old enough to know how to spell to appreciate that “G-L-O-R-I-A” will be ringing in rock fans’ ears forever.—Bonnie Stiernberg

12. White Stripes, “Fell in Love With a Girl”
On their career-making, century-cinching album White Blood Cells, this Detroit blues twosome toyed unironically with childhood imagery: the duochromatic wardrobe, the candy fixation, “We’re Going to Be Friends.” So Legos were a natural endpoint. The infamous video for “Fell in Love with a Girl” is simple but wildly effective in illustrating the massive charms of this short, sharp single—which is still one of the Stripes’ best. It’s also the gnarliest single to get airplay this millennium, as Jack’s excitable vocals convey a lust/logic split (“the two sides of my brain need to have a meeting!”) and Meg pounds away joyously.—Stephen M. Deusner

11. The Sonics, “Strychnine”
One of Tacoma, Washington’s greatest musical exports were these five young men who added the perfect amount of danger and delinquency to their screaming, blasting compositions. Among their best is this short revved-up ode to leader Gerry Rosie’s beverage of choice—a straight shot of strychnine, the cure for what ails you. I’ll have what he’s having.—Robert Ham

10. The Swinging Medallions, “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love”
In the Carolinas they call this “beach music.” It’s the sound of your dad’s drunken frat buddies (or maybe your granddad’s, because time never stops) bashing their way through a tender tune about passing out in a front yard after a crazy, drunken, sex-filled night. Although not as raucous as The Sonics or The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie,” the group vocals, background hollers and suggestive lyrics give it a similar debauched charm. Also everything about that organ line is perfect.—Garrett Martin

9. The Troggs, “Wild Thing”
Like many of the early garage-rock standout songs, “Wild Thing” is a cover: written by Chip Taylor, New York City band The Wild Ones first recorded the song in 1965. The Troggs’ version quickly eclipsed it the following year. The English rockers hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart thanks to the bludgeoning guitar and singer Reg Presley’s vocals, which go from sounding almost distracted to unsettlingly focused when he veers into the famous chorus. Other acts have since recorded “Wild Thing,” including Jimi Hendrix, The Runaways, X, Cheap Trick, Liz Phair, Sam Kinison and, of course, Animal from The Muppet Show.—Eric R. Danton

8. Bobby Fuller Four, “I Fought the Law”
Most often identified with the Bobby Fuller Four, “I Fought the Law” originated as a b-side for the Crickets in 1960 and was a regional hit for a few garage bands before Fuller rode it into the Top 10 singles chart in ‘65. His would be the definitive and most successful version—at least until The Clash got hold of it in ’79. The Four pound on their instruments like they’re breakin’ rocks in the hot sun, and the bass player has already hopped the fence and made a break for it. Fuller sings it with such devil-may-care abandon that you’d swear the law actually lost.—Stephen M. Deusner

7. The Count Five, “Psychotic Reaction”
Though this San Jose, Calif., group only released one album, they made it count: “Psychotic Reaction,” the title track, is an enduring icon of garage rock, thanks to the punchy guitar riff, the howling harmonica and the way the band slides into the twitchy double-time instrumental breakdown in the middle. The song made it to No. 5 on the singles chart.—Eric R. Danton

6. ? and the Mysterians, “96 Tears”
One of many garage acts referred to as “the first punk band,” these Bay City, Mich., rockers own another more quantifiable distinction: they were the first Latino rock band with a No. 1 hit. Thanks to the relentless organ vamp and defiantly heartbroken vocals from Question Mark (née Rudy Martinez, whose brother Robert played drums), “96 Tears” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1966 and sold more than a million copies.—Eric R. Danton

5. The Stooges, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”
No one wonders why bands still love to cover “I Wanna be Your Dog” in 2014. In fact, even in its much tamer studio version, The Stooges’ feedback-heavy force of a song still out-fought most hard-rockers in ’69, only being outdone by Detroit brothers The MC5. It’s a blistering piece of proto-punk, one that set the stage for any outlandish, fuzzed-out guitar line that would follow in a garage, and Iggy Pop’s unforgettable wails—“Now I wanna be your dog!”—can’t be unheard. Sorry, late ‘60s parents.—Tyler Kane

4. The Seeds, “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine”
Sky Saxon sounds just as desperate on “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” as he does on “Pushin’ Too Hard,” but the band must have sweated out whatever uppers they were on before slinking their way through this one. That subdued quality adds an element of darkness to a song that already straddles the line between unrequited love and stalker anthem.—Garrett Martin

3. The Kingsmen, “Louie Louie”
In many ways, The Kingsmen’s version of “Louie Louie” is the template for garage rock. Three chords fuel a lo-fi masterpiece built around trebly guitar, blaring organ and singer Jack Ely’s murky vocals, which attracted the attention of the FBI and prompted the governor of Indiana to ban the song for its supposed indecency. Didn’t matter: released in 1963, The Kingsmen’s cover of Richard Berry’s tune took the Portland, Ore., band to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, where the song spent six weeks on its way to becoming eternal.—Eric R. Danton

2. 13th Floor Elevators, “You’re Gonna Miss Me”
As garage rock turned psychedelic by the latter half of the ’60s, “You’re Gonna Miss Me” was a significant milestone along the way. First released in January 1966, the song showcases Roky Erickson’s otherworldly shriek and Tommy Hall’s eerie electric jug. Hailing from Austin, Texas, 13th Floor Elevators managed four albums and seven singles in their brief run from 1965-69 (and Erickson went on to subsequent acclaim and notoriety), but “You’re Gonna Miss Me” remains the group’s defining statement.—Eric R. Danton

1. The Sonics, “Have Love, Will Travel”
“Rock and roll—it’s the only place you can scream like that without going to jail,” Sonics vocalist-keyboardist Gerry Roslie told me a few years ago. That voice—sounding pissed and possessed—lit up the band’s two releases, 1965’s Here Are The Sonics and Boom, released the following year. The Sonics were uglier, louder and scarier than anything that had floated this way during the British Invasion. They were also playing what was essentially punk rock in the small town of Tacoma, Wash. one year before bands like The Seeds and the 13th Floor Elevators had done anything, three years before the Brits gave us The Pretty Things or The Deviants, and almost five years before The Stooges and MC5 blew up Detroit. “Have Love Will Travel” isn’t as in-your-face as “The Witch” or “Strychnine,” but it’s still a primal slab of garage rock (the skronky sax solo rips, too). Some insist that punk rock started in the UK in the ’70s; the Sonics tell us otherwise.—Mark Lore

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