SONGS of the 60s

No decade in this series demonstrates as much of a radical change in musical form from beginning to end as the 1960s. At the start, rock & roll music and all its offshoots were still in their infancy, continuing the mostly wholesome sounds and images from the 50s (Elvis's hips & Jerry Lee Lewis's antics notwithstanding).  The early 60s saw a lot of wide-eyed sing-a-longs about new love, enduring love, or broken hearts. But themes would abruptly take a more serious turn. Timeless sentiments like "And I think to myself, what a wonderful world" were about to turn into "It's been a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come." Youthful musings such as "Don't know much about history, don't know much biology" became "I was born in a crossfire hurricane" and "Hope I die before I get old."  What began as a simpler time became very complicated very quickly

Pioneering poets like Bob Dylan and Nina Simone opened the door to more socially conscious songwriting that captured the growing turbulence of the decade. Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Motown, Stax, and the British Invasion bands exploded the sonic and established emotional palette. By the decade's end you had artists like Sly Stone, The Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, and The Stooges building a bridge straight into the addled heart of the 70s. In fact, the top song on this list is essentially an apocalyptic bloodletting that destroyed the magic of rock and roll and foreshadowed so much of what was to come.

Many of these songs first became part of my vocabulary as they drifted from the car radio to the backseat. These were the songs of my parents' youth and hearing my father try to sing "Sherry" with the windows down is something I won't soon forget. Their love of the "oldies" radio stations opened the door to my own musical explorations. The 60s weren't exactly the beginning of music as we know it, but everything I love now has its roots here.


"Gimme Shelter" // The Rolling Stones
"Stand By Me" // Ben E. King
"Do You Believe In Magic" // The Lovin' Spoonful
"Like A Rolling Stone" // Bob Dylan
"Be My Baby" // The Ronettes
"The Kids Are Alright" // The Who
"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" // Jimi Hendrix
"This Will Be Our Year" // The Zombies
"Respect" // Aretha Franklin
"You Can't Hurry Love" // The Supremes


"I Want You Back" // The Jackson 5
"These Arms of Mine" // Otis Redding
"When Will I Be Loved" // The Everly Brothers
"Waterloo Sunset" // The Kinks
"I Second That Emotion" // Smokey Robinson
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" // The Rolling Stones
"My Generation" // The Who
"God Only Knows" // The Beach Boys
"Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" // Frankie Valli
"Different Drum" // The Stone Poneys


"Sympathy For The Devil" // The Rolling Stones
"To Be Young, Gifted, & Black" // Nina Simone
"Wouldn't It Be Nice" // The Beach Boys
"Just Like A Woman" // Bob Dylan
"Out In The Streets" // The Shangri-las
"Pressure Drop" // Toots & the Maytals
"The Weight" // The Band
"Runaround Sue" // Dion
"Hey Jude" // The Beatles
"White Light / White Heat" // The Velvet Underground


"Moon River" // Audrey Hepburn
"In The Midnight Hour" // Wilson Pickett
"Sunday Morning" // The Velvet Underground
"Fortunate Son" // Creedence Clearwater Revival
"Build Me Up Buttercup" // The Foundations
"Can't Find My Way Home" // Blind Faith
"Walk Away Renee" // The Left Banke
"Then He Kissed Me" // The Crystals
"In The Still Of The Night" // Dion
"Bold As Love" // The Jimi Hendrix Experience


"1969" // The Stooges
"And Your Bird Can Sing" // The Beatles
"The Dark End Of The Street" // James Carr
"It's The Same Old Song" // The Four Tops
"A Change Is Gonna Come" // Sam Cooke
"You Just Keep Me Hanging On" // The Supremes
"I Fought The Law" // Bobby Fuller Four
"I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" // The Byrds
"Uptight" // Stevie Wonder
"Sloop John B" // The Beach Boys


"Gloria" // Them
"Need Your Love So Bad" // Little Willie John
"I've Been Loving You Too Long" // Otis Redding
"The Last Time" // The Rolling Stones
"You Really Got Me" // The Kinks
"Everyday People" // Sly & The Family Stone
"Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" // Bob Dylan
"Think" // Aretha Franklin
"Bad Moon Rising" // Creedence Clearwater Revival
"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" // The Shirelles


"Corinna" // Taj Mahal
"What A Wonderful World" // Louis Armstrong
"I'm Waiting For The Man" // The Velvet Underground
"Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" // James Brown
"Hallelujah I Just Love Her So" // Ray Charles
"Visions of Johanna" // Bob Dylan
"Dancing In The Street" // Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
"Here Comes The Night" / Them 
"I Heard It Through The Grapevine" // Marvin Gaye
"(What A) Wonderful World" // Sam Cooke


"Resolutions pt. 2" // John Coltrane
"Pain In My Heart" // Otis Redding
"All Along The Watchtower" // Jimi Hendrix
"So Long Marianne" // Leonard Cohen
"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" // The Band
"This Old Heart Of Mine" // The Isley Brothers
"At Last" // Etta James
"My Girl" // The Temptations
"You're Love Is Lifting Me Higher" // Jackie Wilson
"Sweet Thing" // Van Morrison


"Time Is On My Side" // Irma Thomas
"I Wish I Knew How To Be Free" // Nina Simone
"The Sky Is Crying" // Elmore James
"Unchained Melody" // The Righteous Brothers 
"Alone Again Or" // Love
"Kick Out The Jams" // MC5
"I Want To Hold Your Hand" // The Beatles
"When A Man Loves A Woman" // Percy Sledge
"Dream Lover" // Bobby Darin
"Good Lovin'" // The Rascals


"007 (Shanty Town)" // Desmond Dekker & The Aces
"It's A Man's Man's Man's World" // James Brown
"Born To Be Wild" // Steppenwolf
"I'll Be Your Mirror" // The Velvet Underground & Nico
"Beyond The Sea" // Bobby Darin
"I Got You Babe" // Sonny & Cher
"(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman // Aretha Franklin
"Purple Haze" // Jimi Hendrix Experience
"The Tracks Of My Tears" // Smokey Robinson
"You're So Good To Me" // The Beach Boys


101-200 (in no order)

"Substitute" // The Who
"This Magic Moment" // Ben E. King & The Drifters
"Cissy Strut" // The Meters
"Where Did Our Love Go" // The Supremes
"Darling Be Home Soon" // The Lovin' Spoonful
"Hang On Sloopy" // The McCoys
"Twist & Shout" // The Isley Brothers
"Don't Look Back" // The Remains
"Under The Boardwalk" // The Drifters
"You Don't Miss Your Water" // Otis Redding

"Crimson & Clover" // Tommy James & The Shondels
"Making Time" // The Creation
"Sugar, Sugar" // The Archies
"Animal Farm" // The Kinks
"Homeward Bound" // Simon & Garfunkel
"For What It's Worth" // Buffalo Springfield
"The Tide Is High" // The Paragons
"Bring It On Home" // Sam Cooke
"My Boyfriend's Back" // The Angels
"These Boots Are Made For Walking" // Nancy Sinatra

"Walking After Midnight" // Patsy Cline
"Ain't Too Proud To Beg" // The Temptations
"Police On My Back" // The Equals
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" // The Righteous Brothers
"Beginning To See The Light" // The Velvet Underground
"Hot Burrito #2" // The Flying Burrito Brothers
"Cowgirl In The Sand" // Neil Young & Crazy Horse
"Eve Of Destruction" // Barry McGuire
"Hey Joe" // The Jimi Hendrix Experience
"You Still Believe In Me" // The Beach Boys

"Subterranean Homesick Blues" // Bob Dylan
"Georgia On My Mind" // Ray Charles
"River Deep Mountain High" // Ike & Tina Turner
"Heroin" // The Velvet Underground & Nico
"Suspicious Minds" // Elvis Presley
"Give Him A Great Big Kiss" // The Shangri-las
"White Rabbit" // Jefferson Airplane
"My Back Pages" // The Byrds
"Daydream Believer" // The Monkees
"Lodi" // Creedence Clearwater Revival

"Ring Of Fire" // Johnny Cash
"Sweet Caroline" // Neil Diamond
"Carrie Ann" // The Hollies
"Strychnine" // The Sonics
"Son of A Preacher Man" // Dusty Springfield
"Bird On A Wire" // Leonard Cohen
"Outside Chance" // The Turtles
"Sherry" // The Four Tops
"Piece Of My Heart" // Janis Joplin (Big Brother & the Holding Co.)
"Space Oddity" // David Bowie

"Israelites" // Desmond Dekker & The Aces
"The Eleven" // The Grateful Dead
"Baby Please Don't Go" // The Amboy Dukes
"Turn On Your Love Light" // Bobby "Blue" Bland
"96 Tears" // ? and the Mysterians
"Friday On My Mind" // The Easybeats
"Dark End Of The Street" // The Flying Burrito Brothers
"Spoonful" // Howlin' Wolf
"Whiter Shade of Pale" // Procal Harum
"You're Gonna Miss Me" // The 13th Floor Elevators

"I'd Rather Go Blind" // Etta James
"The Thrill Is Gone" // B.B. King
"The Girls Across The Street" // Moses Smith
"Do You Love Me" // The Contours
"I Hear A Symphony" // The Supremes
"Operator" // Brenda Holloway
"Come See About Me" // The Supremes
"Nowhere To Run" // Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
"Get Ready" // The Temptations
"Little Wing" // The Jimi Hendrix Experience

"Blackbird" // The Beatles
"Locking Up My Heart" // The Marvelettes
"There's A Ghost In My House" // R. Dean Taylor
"Heaven Must Have Sent You" // The Elgins
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" // Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
"Someday We'll Be Together" // Diana Ross & The Supremes
"I Want To Hold Your Hand" // The Beatles
"You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" // The Beatles
"Yesterday" // The Beatles
"It Won't Be Long" // The Beatles

"(Sitting On The) Dock Of The Bay" // Otis Redding
"B-A-B-Y" // Carla Thomas
"Hold On, I'm Coming" // Sam & Dave
"I've Just Seen A Face" // The Beatles
"Let It Bleed" // The Rolling Stones
"Street Fighting Man" // The Rolling Stones
"I Can See For Miles" // The Who 
"I Can't Explain" // The Who
"The Boxer" // Simon & Garfunkel
"Love Minus Zero (No Limit)" // Bob Dylan

"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" // Bob Dylan
"Tears of Rage" // The Band
"I Shall Be Released" // The Band
"The House of the Rising Sun" // The Animals
"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" // The Four Tops
"I Shall Be Released" // Nina Simone
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" // The Beatles
"Slum Goddess" // The Fugs
"Hard to Handle" // Otis Redding
"Good Vibrations" // The Beach Boys

"All or Nothing" // Small Faces
"Someday We'll Be Together" // Diana Ross & The Supremes

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