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.
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.
- Live365: Although not as specific as TropicalGlen, this free site is organized by decade or theme, such as 57 Chevy radio. There are no sign-ups on this site either, but there are occasional commercials.
- Last.FM Oldies Radio: If you're not concerned about having specific search options like the sites above, this straightforward Internet radio offering simply plays the oldies across the entire spectrum. You will need to register with LastFM in order to listen to their streaming radio.
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.
Paid Oldies Tracks at a Discount
Amazon.com is known for having the lowest prices online for pay-per-track music. Their discounted oldies tracks support this reputation. Where GooglePlay and iTunes sell their oldies songs for $.99 per track, Amazon offers many of them for $.89 per track. These two fantastic collections provide perfect examples:
- '50s Jukebox Hits: Although you can't purchase tracks individually, you can buy the entire 60-song collection of great '50s music for under $10, which comes to about $.16 per track.
- You Can Dance: '50s and '60s Hits: Though smaller in size, these 15 oldies hits focus on songs that make your feet move.
The great thing about oldies music is that its age and legacy mean that record labels tend to cram large numbers of tracks into single collections to convince consumers to purchase them. Although it's nice to download individual tracks, the least expensive way to stock up on oldies is buy the discounted albums.
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.