The nostalgia of oldies music is powerful. With only a few chords and a sparkling melody, an oldies song conjures visions of 1950s soda parlors, innocent romances in Small Town U.S.A., and a happy, shiny world that existed before the anger and cynicism of the Vietnam Era with its accompanying hard rock and dark psychedelia. Listen to some great tracks from this golden era from a variety of online sources.
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Free Oldies Music Collections
Because oldies by definition involve commercial music from past artists, legal downloads are typically not available. Usually only current artists offer free music as a promotional tool. However, one legal site, the Internet Archive, does have free oldies that are available for scholarly purposes. The site features all but one of 15 volumes from the Oldies But Goodies CD series, which features artists such as:
- The Beach Boys
- The Everly Brothers
- Fats Domino
- The Monkees
- Buddy Holly
- Jerry Lee Lewis
- Carl Perkins
- Gladys Knight
- The Supremes
- Marvin Gaye
- Paul Anka.
If you’re not looking for tunes for academic or research purposes, the options below provide alternative, legal ways to enjoy oldies music.
Streaming Internet Oldies Stations
One alternative to downloading music and putting together a great oldies playlist is to find an online streaming station that will give you a great mix of songs. These sites offer just that:
- TropicalGlen: This beautifully designed streaming jukebox site allows you to search by year for the oldies, primarily located in the older decades of the “Pop” section. This feature makes the listening experience addictive as you move from year to year to find out which songs were popular. For this reason, it is one of the most enjoyable oldies Internet stations online. No sign-ups required. Just click on the link and listen.
Free Music In the Style of Oldies
Current artists often mimic the oldies sound, and they can be a great way to transition between music of the past and that of the present:
- Last.FM: This site for free downloads includes dozens of modern artists imitating the oldies sound with original music and cover versions of classic songs. There are also two authentic but obscure oldies artists, Vince Castro and Johnny Wakelin, among the mix.
- ReverbNation: This site for independent artists features a large number of oldies tribute bands and artists who market themselves as playing oldies-styled music. The quality can vary wildly, but there are some quality, professional sounding finds.
The Golden Sheen of the Past
Despite the social upheaval of the 1950s and 1960s, there is something disarmingly sweet and innocent about the music produced in that era. The old familiar songs cast a nostalgic golden sheen over the past in spite of history’s blemishes. Whether you download the originals, listen to new music in the old familiar style, or stream your oldies hits, you’ll be singing and dancing along with these songs in no time.