Decade By Decade Music: 1960s

While the 40s were fun because of the connection to my wedding, I must admit I wasn't too thrilled to list favorites from the 50s. Now that I'm in the 60s though, I'm pretty thrilled. This was the era my parents grew up during, so I've heard a lot of this music over the years… I especially remember hearing it around Christmas time when my mom would pull out old records of, for example, The Jackson 5, the band of brothers that existed long before Michael Jackson ever became Michael Jackson. Although I suppose most of that music will be featured in the next Decade By Decade Music Post.

To have a look back at the other two posts I've written in this series, check out these two posts written earlier this month:

1940s (sort of but not really) • 1950s

Now for my top 10 of the 1960s!

1. The Temptations – "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" (buy)

"My Girl" is probably more popular, but I absolutely love this hit from 1966. Written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland, "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Pop Chart and reached number-one hit status on the Billboard R&B charts for eight nonconsecutive weeks! It's the song of an individual pleading his lover to return to him. Surprisingly it's pretty upbeat and optimistic despite its dismal message. (Obviously, the begging works…)

2. The Beatles – "Twist and Shout" (buy)

I thought for two seconds about including the Beatles music video, but instead decided to go with Ferris Bueller's. (His day off was amazing and reason number 543 for me to take a day off as well.) The song itself was recorded originally by the Top Notes in 1961 and then again by the Isley brothers in 1962. In 1963, John Lennon took on the lead vocals which were the last to be recorded for the Beatles' first UK album Please, Please Me. It sold over a million copies and reached number ten on the national charts. The song never reached number one, because another Beatles song "Can't Buy Me Love" held the spot.

3. The Supremes – "The Happening" (buy)

Who doesn't like the Supremes? "The Happening was a song recorded in 1967 for a film of the same name that flopped while the song soared making to the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The Supremes are better known for songs like "Stop In the Name of Love", but I always feel like the best known songs are overplayed. Of course, all of the Supremes songs are wonderful and they recorded a lot before the band broke up in 1970! Go check them out on youtube! :)

4. Booker T. & the MGs – "Green Onions" (buy)

A few years ago, Justin and I went to see Booker T. perform "Green Onions"; the experience and seeing Booker T. was amazing; I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance. Named after a cat whose way of walking inspired the riff (or at least that's one of the reasons Wikipedia says it was named the way it was), the song peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Soul Singles Chart. "Green Onions" has been used extensively in film, tv, and video game soundtracks making it one of the best known instrumental songs in the US. As a character from the movie Blues' Brothers comments "I believe that this tune can be equated with the great classical music around the world. Well now you go to Germany, you got your Bach, your Beethoven and your Brahms. Here in America, you got your Fred McDowell, your Irving Berlin, your Glenn Miller, and your Booker T. & the M.G.s!" I couldn't agree more! :)

5. The Foundations – "Build Me Up Buttercup" (buy)

Such a fun and happy song, it's like people in the 60s were immune to the lyrics. At the very least, Buttercup could have let this poor guy down easy. *sigh* "Buttercup" hit number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was quickly certified Gold by the RIAA for over one million in sales.

6. The Beatles – "Here Comes the Sun" (buy)

There is not a Beatles song that I don't like. Making a decision for which to feature was tough, and, honestly, I'll probably regret it the minute I press publish. "In My Life", "Hey Jude", "Yellow Submarine", "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", "Octopus's Garden", and "Let It Be" to name a few… As such, I think I'll go listen to a few Beatles' songs rather than listing out information on this amazing band… I suggest you do the same. :)

7. The Monkees – "Daydream Believer" (buy)

First heard this song on Dawson's Creek and immediately downloaded it. "I'm A Believer" is more well known, but this song takes on that happy vibe that seems to be very consistent with the 60s. "Daydream Believer" peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained for four weeks. The Monkees are best known as a manufactured "Beatles" that were created for a tv series in the 60s. "Daydream Believer" is just one of the many fantastic songs created by the band.

8. Ben E. King – "Stand By Me" (buy)

Originally written by King in the 1960s for the music group The Drifters,  inevitably, King recorded the song himself when they refused to. After working on another song in the recording studio, King had some extra time and the studio producer's asked if he had any other songs that needed to be recorded. When he shared "Stand By Me" with them, they liked it and decided to record it. "Stand By Me" went to number 1 on the R&B charts and was a top ten hit on the U.S. charts twice where it peaked at number 4. Eventually, the song was re-recorded to coincide with the release of a film by the same name. The structure the song has become known for now called the 50s progression is also often called the "Stand By My changes" after the song. "Stand By Me" has been covered by many artists including John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding, and Imagine Dragons.

9. The Angels – "My Boyfriend's Back" (buy)

When I started thinking about female groups (aside from Diana Ross), I had a really hard time choosing which one to feature. Others I'd include if I had room in my top ten list would be The Chiffon's "One Fine Day", The Crystals "Then He Kissed Me", The Dixie Cups "Going to the Chapel of Love", The Shirelles "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?", Lesley Gore "It's My Party" and The Chordettes "Mr. Sandman". Seriously. Decisions were hard!

10. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (buy)

Included in the grammy hall of fame in 1999, the song has humble origins. Written by the now famous duo Ashford and Simpson, they felt like song could be there "golden egg" into the industry. After being recorded separately by each, Terrell and Gaye, the vocals were combined at a later date. The song peaked at number 19 on the Billboard pop charts and went to number 3 on the R&B charts. Later, in 1970, it was covered by Diana Ross who also had a Top 20 success with it, her first solo single. Since then, "Ain't No Mountain" has been recorded by such greats as Whitney Houston, Doobie Brother Michael McDonald, Lionel Richie (with Stefanie Heinzmann) and Michael Bolton (with Kelly Rowland). It is a song that continues to touch generations years later.

What are your favorite songs from the 60s? There were so many more that I simply didn't have room to include. The 60s was a great decade for music, so I know you must have at least one favorite that I didn't list!

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