Kernels

A kernel is a lesser-known song that upon release may not have been commercially successful but in most instances was critically acclaimed either upon release or years later. We have unearthed kernels for you to discover, beginning in 1962. Kernel songs are all listed here and appear gold in colour throughout the site. The editors are Christian Jordan, Greg Korn, Tyler Korn and Cat MacDonald.

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Song Artist Year
Song To WoodyBob Dylan1962
"Song To Woody" is one of the first songs written and recorded by Bob Dylan, dedicated to one of his greatest inspirations, Woody Guthrie. Dylan first visited Guthrie in early 1961 at Greystone Hospital in New Jersey. The song is written in a similar style to that of Woody Guthrie and uses the melody from Guthrie's song "1913 Massacre". “Song To Woody” first appeared on Bob Dylan’s self-titled debut album released in 1962. (G.K. 13 May 2023)
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)Darlene Love1963
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is a pop song originally sung by Darlene Love and first appeared on the 1963 compilation album, “A Christmas Gift For You From Philles Records”. The song was written by Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich, and Jeff Barry. Darlene Love’s stunning vocal and emotion - and the Phil Spector production - make this one of the greatest Christmas songs ever released. Leon Russell was the pianist for the recording. The Darlene Love version of the song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 until 2018. The song has since become a Christmas standard. (G.K. 18 May 2023)
Alone Again OrLove1967
Including elements of folk, jazz, classical and psychedelia, “Along Again Or” is both ornate and catchy. It alternates between hushed acoustic passages and swelling orchestral strings and horns. There’s tension throughout the song between the sunny melodies and dark lyrics, with the orchestration punctuating Arthur Lee’s pronouncement, “And I will be along again tonight my dear.” (C.J. 9 May 2023)
I'm Waiting For The ManThe Velvet Underground & Nico1967
"I'm Waiting For The Man" showcases the Velvet Underground’s pop side and their hard-driving, rock side. It's insistent drumming, ragged guitar, and pounding piano are propulsive proto punk, capturing the jittery energy of the junkie waiting around for "the man" to bring him his fix. (C.J. 14 May 2023)
Paper SunTraffic1967
“Paper Sun” by Traffic is about a care-free girl on holiday, having fun jumping beach to beach with a guy she’s just met. Leaving her room in disarray, and her selfish behaviour towards her friends, she wakes up one morning lying on the beach to find that she has been left alone with no money for the bus home or a phone call. “Paper Sun” was written by Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood, Traffic’s first single in May 1967 and the first song that Steve and Jim wrote together. The song has an unusual, psychedelic, flowing melody, sung brilliantly by Steve Winwood and features an Indian sitar, played by Dave Mason that mingles beautifully with Chris Wood’s flute and Jim Capaldi’s drums. The single charted in the UK and brought Traffic to the forefront of the “flower power” movement that swept the country at the time. (C.M. 8 July 2024)
10,000 Words In A Cardboard BoxThe Aquarian Age1968
“10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box” is a clever and delightfully poetic song originally recorded by UK band The Aquarian Age. “10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box” refers to the numerous thoughts, emotions and experiences one has crammed into such a small, fragile space such as the human brain. “A thousand colourful shadows dancing ‘round my head” - the narrator takes you on a journey of exploration of the enigma of life and death, a search for meaning, trying to make sense of human disjointedness, common misunderstandings and the desire to express oneself - “There he goes on a voyage of his own delusion, never knowing where the next path will take him”. John "Twink" Alder also adds some cheeky “Hello-Goodbye” excerpts that didn’t make it onto his rerecording of the song retitled as "Ten Thousand Words In A Cardboard Box" for his 1970 solo album “Think Pink”. Musically, “10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box” is a psychedelic ensemble with John “Junior” Wood’s rustic, slack-key electric guitar and Twink’s eclectic, multi-layered trippy sound effects and vocals. The song was produced by Mark Wirtz adding an orchestral element with weeping strings, uplifting brass, percussion and prominent drums. “10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box” was first released as a single in the UK in May 1968 B/W (backed with) “Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard”. (C.M. 14 July 2024)
So MuchMcGough & McGear1968
“So Much” is a rare and juicy kernel that Roger McGough and Mike McGear (aka Mike McCartney, Paul McCartney’s brother) originally recorded on Paul McCartney’s 25th birthday, featuring Roger McGough and Mike McGear’s lyrics and vocals and the use of a wah-wah pedal hooked up to Roger’s microphone, Paul McCartney’s vocal harmony, Jimi Hendrix’s unmistakable electric guitar, The Yardbird’s Paul Samwell-Smith on bass guitar, and Paul McCartney’s girlfriend, Jane Asher’s sexy “So much, so much” undertones. These and other contributions on the album were not acknowledged until more than 40 years after the song’s release due to contractual obligations - until its first U.S. release. This was McGough and McGear’s only album after gaining popularity in the comedy trio, “The Scaffold” along with funny man John Gorman on the TV show “The Gazette”. The lyrics for “So Much” are so lovingly believable and make you wish you were riding the same cloud. Lyrics: “So much in love, the days seem to get in the way. So much in love, there’s a lifetime in every day. So much in love, I’ve got the angels in my head. So much in love, the sun shines in and out of your eyes. So much in love, those eyes really hypnotize. So much in love, I ride the clouds high up in the sky. So much in love, we booked two seats for eternity. So much in love, we’re like white doves in a poetry. So much in love, why don’t you all come and join me? So much in love, now everyone would like to be friends. So much in love, now life’s so sweet that I intend, so much in love, to make plans for a world without end. (Written by Michael McGear & Roger McGough (BMI) 1968) (C.M. 4 March 2024)
SympathyRare Bird1969
Rare Bird offers “Sympathy” as a ballad of hope for the people of our world, either triumphing or suffering over global discrepancies and of course, the human condition. “Now half the world, hates the other half, and half the world has all the food, and the other half, lies down and quietly starves, ‘cause there’s not enough love to go ‘round.” Steve Gould sings the sincere lyrics of “Sympathy” with his powerful, soulful voice along with the deep, heavy hitting rhythm of his bass guitar, David Kaffinetti’s electric piano, Mark Ashton’s drums and Graham Stansfield’s smooth, flowing organ. (C.M. 19 March 2024)
The Old Man's Back Again (Dedicated To The Neo-Stalinist Regime)Scott Engel1969
Noel Scott Engel, better known by his stage name Scott Walker, transformed from a teen idol in the 1960s to a virtuoso, baroque-pop singer. “The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated To The Neo-Stalinist Regime)” tells the mournful tale of the Soviet Union invading Czechoslovakia and “undoing” the gains they’d made toward liberation and reform in the Prague Spring. Not exactly a typical theme for a pop song, but without knowing it (and it’s easy to miss), it plays as a funky, orchestral pop song with a deceptively complex arrangement. (C.J. 15 May 2023)
All The MadmenDavid Bowie1970
A beautifully written song about mental illness – David Bowie has said that the song was written about his half brother, Terry Burns, who had schizophrenia and was an inmate of Cane Hill Hospital (featured on the original U.S.A. cover of “The Man Who Sold The World”). Bowie sings in “All The Madmen” - “I'd rather stay here with all the madmen, than perish with the sad men roaming free, and I'd rather play here with all the madmen, for I'm quite content they're all as sane as me”. At the time of this song’s release, mental illness was a taboo subject. “All The Madmen” features Mick Ronson’s guitar versatility, the infectious percussion of Mick Woodmansey, unusual voice effects, and bass by Tony Visconti. Ronson and Woodmansey would soon become members of the Spiders From Mars. (C.M. 15 June 2023)
Mr. BigFree1970
Free’s “Mr. Big” is a lusty, sexy song of a man’s pride in his girl and their tireless, affectionate bond. He doesn’t need anyone telling him how beautiful his girl is, “She’s got so much love and she saves it all for me… that’s the way it’s got to be.” He’s confident in their relationship but he has no need for anyone hanging around them, trying to get close to his girl and he’d do anything to protect what they have together. “So Mr. Big, you’d better watch out, when only you hang around me, oh for you now, I will dig a great big hole in the ground.” In the “Mr. Big” music video, a GMV, Paul Rodgers drips with sex appeal, using his microphones and stand to hit every explosive beat while passionately dancing with his bandmates. “Mr. Big” features an epic solo shared by Paul Kossoff’s dynamic electric guitar; Andy Fraser’s exciting, climbing bass guitar lines; Simon Kirke‘s animated drums; and their combined dramatic nuances after each lyrical line sung by Paul Rodgers and his soulful, commanding voice. (C.M. 7 July 2024)
Oh! Those Sweet BananasHackamore Brick1970
The boys in Hackamore Brick had clearly been spending a lot of time listening to the Velvet Underground’s fourth album when they recorded this song. This is a catchy, art-pop song full of strange double entendres that careen into each other as the song rushes forward. Fruits and vegetables never sounded more sensual! (C.J. 8 May 2023)
War PigsBlack Sabbath1970
While "War Pigs" didn't initially receive much in the way of critical reception or radio play, it has come to be considered one of the best Heavy Rock and Metal songs of all time. It has stood the test of time and remains a large influence on sludge and doom metal. The complex structure, use of empty space, wailing guitar riffs, Ozzy Osbourne's stand-out vocals, and a wicked bass progression are instantly iconic, and the anti-war sentiment reflected in the lyrics is a theme that is timeless. (T.K. 6 May 2023)
Whispering FarewellAunt Mary1970
“Whispering Farewell” is a song written for those unfortunate souls among us who are unable to find happiness, a feeling of self worth, or suffer from any number of mental or physical illnesses or simply cannot find the willingness to live. Jan Groth, with his harrowing, raunchy voice, sings of a man, unhappy with his life, leaving home to buy a gun to be “free”. After feeling the thrill that his gun gives him by causing trouble in the street, he soon realizes the feeling is temporary and that the only satisfaction he’ll have is the sound of the bullet from his gun before it penetrates his head - a “Whispering Farewell”. From Fredrikstad, Ostfold, Aunt Mary is one of Norway’s best progressive rock bands and found success after signing with Polydor Records in Denmark. “Whispering Farewell” is ironically uplifting and rhythmically exciting, featuring Jan Groth’s organ, Svein Gundersen’s bass guitar, Bjorn Kristiansen’s guitar, Per Ivar Fure’s flute and Ketil Stensvik’s drums. (C.M. 20 March 2024)
Ballade de Melody NelsonSerge Gainsbourg1971
A bittersweet love song of a charming young girl and her lovesick middle-aged lover. She knew her days were numbered but she had so much love to give to her one and only lover over fourteen vibrant autumns and fifteen beautiful summers. The narrator expresses his singular connection with Melody Nelson as an essential condition of his reason, implying it was the reason he was put on this earth. "Ballade de Melody Nelson" features Serge Gainsbourg’s deep, expressive voice and Jane Birkin’s lusty, sexy whispers over mellow acoustic guitar, a whimsical string section, and soft, eloquent drums. (C.M. 18 January 2024)
JeepsterT. Rex1971
“Jeepster” is a playful love song that Marc Bolan lifted from Howlin’ Wolf’s song “You’ll Be Mine”. Bolan admitted, “I don’t sing old rock ‘n’ roll songs myself, I prefer to change the words and make new songs out of them”. “Jeepster” is a metaphor of a young man going for a woman above his class or social stature. Bolan’s love for cars expresses this metaphor with the ruggedness of a Jeep meant for off-road fun in rough terrain, relentlessly pursuing a Jaguar of high class, unwavering style, luxury, and performance. Tony Visconti, the producer, loved how Bolan took an old blues song, shook it up with some dramatic, melodic chord progressions as he enthusiastically stomped and jumped, rattling the microphone stands, which added an organic layer of rhythm to Steve Currie’s bass guitar, Mickey Finn’s congas and Bill Legend’s drums. Bolan sings, with his lusty vibrato voice, of his girl’s fair qualities and wanting her all to himself. “Girl, I’m just a vampire for your love and I’m going to suck you!”. The album, “Electric Warrior”, with infectious songs such as “Bang A Gong (Get It On)”, “Cosmic Dancer” and “Jeepster”, clearly established Marc Bolan and T. Rex as trailblazers of the glam rock era. (C.M. 18 March 2024)
Clube Da Esquina No. 2Milton Nascimento & Lo Borges1972
Milton Nascimento & Lo Borges released their album “Clube Da Esquina” in 1972. At the time Brazil was 8 years into oppression under a military junta without any viable resistance. The song “Clube Da Esquina No. 2” resonates a feeling of nostalgia for a simpler time filled with memories, emotions, love, friendship, and the passage of time. Milton Nascimento beautifully expresses these feelings and emotions through his delicate voice. The song captures the essence of Brazil’s rich and diverse musical heritage and has become an influential classic among the Brazilian music scene with elements of bossa nova, samba, and folk. Enjoy! (C.M. 18 January 2024)
Darling Be Home Soon (Live)Slade1972
“Darling Be Home Soon” is a song written for a loved one about to go on tour, be free to create, travel, please their fans, promote themselves and have fun! “Go and beat your head against the sky, try and see beyond the houses in your eyes”, but also the instant longing for them to come home soon and be with them again “for the great relief of having you to talk to”. “Darling Be Home Soon” was written by John Sebastian of “The Lovin’ Spoonful”, but Slade in their performance on “Slade Alive!” made it their own. They slowed down the tempo, filled it with soul, and an endearing burp from Noddy Holder before the last verse of the song that was very well managed and added a bit of humour without taking away from the beauty of the song. Then you have Dave Hill pulling your heartstrings with his sorrowful guitar effects, Jim Lea’s subtle, harmonic bass guitar, Don Powell’s soft, yet expressive drums and of course the explosive finale that is the last verse. (C.M. 17 February 2024)
DoveCymande1972
Cymande is a calypso word for dove and is traditionally a sign of peace and unity and their song “Dove” implies that feeling. When I listen to it, the fluttering electric guitar reminds me of a dove taking flight. As the song goes on, my imagination takes me on the dove’s back, holding on to a few feathers, feeling the wind blowing through my hair and the incredible view from high on up and on its way to its destination, while spreading its message for all to see. Cymande is known as “nyah rock”, consisting of funk, soul, reggae, rock, African music, calypso, and jazz. This eclectic masterpiece features Ray King and Joey Dee’s percussion and subtle lyrics, “I love, I love the dove”, Patrick Patterson’s electric guitar, Mike “Bami” Rose’s flute and bongos, Pablo Gonsales’ congos, Sam Kelly’s drums and Steve Scipio’s bass guitar. (C.M. 28 February 2024)
HallogalloNEU!1972
“Hallogallo” is an innovative instrumental landscape representing a feeling of freedom and exploration in a fast car on the open road. “Hallogallo” is a play on a German slang term for wild partying which is fitting for this fun and expressive piece, with no need for lyrical expression. “Hallogallo” features Klaus Dinger’s flawless “motorik” drumbeat (characterized by straightness), back looped electronics, and Michael Rother’s sonic guitar pedal effects emphasized by the expressive wash of sound that plays in and out of aural senses. In the early 1970s there was a rising concern whether technology would be to our advantage or disadvantage in the future. “Hallogallo” is an optimistic expression of whatever lies ahead on the road, and we got this! (C.M. 21 December 2023)
Leaf & StreamWishbone Ash1972
“Leaf & Stream” takes you on a journey of self reflection and self discovery after many years spent alone searching for meaning and purpose. The spirit of “Leaf & Stream” is letting go of the past and letting yourself be led into the next chapter of your life. Maybe it’s finally finding what you’re looking for or a true connection to share your life and dreams with or an epiphany or clarity of what to do next. Musically, “Leaf & Stream” is classically beautiful featuring Martin Turner’s melancholy, captivating voice, and the emotionally intricate guitar work of Andy Powell and Ted Turner. (C.M. 2 February 2024)
R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso1972
The Italian progressive rock band Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso released its self-titled debut album in 1972. The album featured the song “R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)” and band members were Vittorio Nocenzi (keyboards), Gianni Nocenzi (piano), Francesco Di Giacomo (lead vocals), Marcello Todaro (guitar), Renato D'Angelo (bass), and Pierluigi Calderoni (drums). “R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)” is a musically complex song featuring elements of incredibly rhythmic acoustic and electric guitar, innovative synthesizer effects, classical piano, harpsichord, clarinet, energetic drums, and soft, emotional, belting operatic vocals grouped together in an imaginative bundle of progressive rock. “R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)” brings images of a bloody battlefield with screams of soldiers dying alone without God and desperately searching for meaning when faced with mortality amid the chaos, and the stress and anxiety that death brings and not knowing why. “R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)” is Latin for “rest in peace” and represents the longing for peace for those lost and those who have survived and still re-live the horrors of war. The song becomes focused on a fallen soldier and his sense of glory from the heaps of bodies, which then comes back to haunt him. The battle ends and the wind has stopped as he lies there with a dagger in his chest, painfully and regretfully gazing at the sky for a sense of meaning or something greater. He will never throw his lance again to conquer the unknown and God only knows what lies beyond. The soldier’s legacy will be the pain and sorrow he inflicted in his quest for answers. (C.M. 6 July 2024)
ThirteenBig Star1972
"Thirteen" is a poignant reflection on teen innocence and longing, carried by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell’s twin guitar-picking and yearning vocals. Few songs capture the aching, bittersweet quality of nostalgia better. (C.J. 23 December 2023)

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