When Brian Wilson began obsessing over Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound production, The Beach Boys music became truly groundbreaking. But it’s a compliment of the highest order. The first song The Rolling Stones recorded for “Let It Bleed” wound up becoming one of the album’s great closers. Paste compiled the 100 best songs of the 1960s by whittling down a list of more than 500 songs. Before there was a mainstream feminist movement, Loretta Lynn was tackling the hardcore throw-down. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, 34. Inspired by a Jimi Hendrix concert, Jack Bruce came up with the heavy bass riff that would drive “Sunshine of Your Love." —Kurt Suchman, “The Weight” remains The Band’s most well-known song to date, and who can complain with that? 71. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Fortunate Son”. 54. Though seemingly saccharine thanks to Bobbie Gentry’s sweet soprano and the song’s repetitive structure, the lyrics actually detail a violent scene, as “Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.” Even still, the song spent four weeks at No.1 in 1967. —Brian Tremml, Gladys Knight & The Pips and countless others recorded their own admirable versions of this song, but the pain audible in Marvin Gaye’s rendition lends the lyrics some added pathos. It’s not a cry for help but a cry for ownership and pride. It became his only No. There is something special about listening to a good singer, singing his or her own words. —Beca Grimm, Other songs may be more influential or boast wittier lyrics, but none are as simply beautiful as “Waterloo Sunset.” The guitar part feels like a hug from an old friend, and the lyrics remind us that sometimes all you truly need is someone to walk along a bridge with. But, the Godfather of Soul’s performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966 helped secure this song’s importance simply because of the fancy footwork he showcases here. When you think of the blues, Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign" is a nice place to start. —Robert Ham, There is a reason everyone in the karaoke booth fights over covering this classic tear-jerker and if we have to tell you, well, you just wouldn’t understand. Jackie Wilson - “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher a & Higher”. —Paste Archives, Even though Prince and Joan Jett later covered this song, it’s the 1968 original that really made its mark on the industry. Not is “At Last” Etta James’ signature tune, but it’s one of the most iconic pop songs of all time. Built around Levon Helm’s vocal performance, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” tells the tale of a poor Southerner at the end of the Civil War. Merry Clayton’s wailing vocal solo is positively chilling, but in the end, there’s a glimmer of hope that reminds us that maybe this song and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” aren’t so different after all: “Love, sister, is just a kiss away.” — Bonnie Stiernberg, This was one of the first pop songs to include “God’ in its name. However, whether he liked it or not, “Brown Eyed Girl” has since become his reluctant calling card, the one Van Morrison song everyone seems to know about due to its firm place on classic rock radio, its appearance in such acclaimed films as The Big Chill and Born on the Fourth of July and the fact its a song in regular rotation in the iPods of no less than two American presidents. “Travelin’ Man” was written by Jerry Fuller and Sam Cooke. Sledge wrote “When a Man Loves a Woman” with two members of the Esquires, Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright. Everybody look what’s going down…” The title of the song is perfect: “For What It’s Worth.” There is no bitterness, no dialectic…just description, and a word of unspoken advice: hold back from the battle—look around—we’ve already won the War. But as it goes on and on, Simone’s voice takes over, becoming a tour de force that carries the track into its compelling second half. “Visions of Johanna” is the best song on Bob Dylan’s greatest album. Simon Says is also a band from Estonia, Narva. As they move back for one last verse with Lennon, the transition is made with Lennon drifting off into a vocal daze, druggy and gorgeous, and it all leads to that long final chord, made from three pianos and a harmonium—the perfect, haunting end to the perfect song. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” adds in clear elements of funk (see the fantastic intro) and utilizes a multitrack technique that became all the rage for the most innovative pop acts of the decade. But after hearing a solo by David Ruffin during a Motown Revue performance, Smokey Robison decided to write a song with Ruffin in mind. CLEVELAND, Ohio -- There’s a good chance when you’re talking about music and debating “the best ever...” you’re going to begin and end in the 1960s. With the Civil Rights Movement in full swing and riots breaking out in inner cities across the country, “Dancing in the Street” became a rallying cry that pushed the song to new cultural heights. That Bowie makes it seem so seamless is a sign of his mastery. But “Tracks of My Tears” was a true group effort, as evident right from the iconic opening guitar chords. Thus, the sound of Simon & Garfunkel was born. But The Byrds’ Bob Dylan cover wasn’t as influential as “Eight Miles High,” a track considered by many to be the first true psychedelic rock song and an essential piece 1960s counterculture. It’s a storytelling slow-burner focused on one wild tale of love and murder. —Matt Fink, Probably the song that Redding is still the most well-known for, “Sitting On A Dock Of The Bay” was co-written by legendary soul man Steve Cropper and recorded mere days before Redding’s death, released posthumously. That included “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” a brilliant pop song that foreshadowed the mainstream sounds of power pop that would emerge in the 1970s. —Logan Lockner, David Ruffin’s smiling vocals, that bass hook and those pentatonic scales all make this feel-good track unforgettable. — Bonnie Stiernberg, The MC5 group was known for their aggressive, political-fueled live shows that, along with fellow Michiganders the Stooges, set the stage for punk rock acts for years to come. In Simon’s quick snapshot of 1960s New York City, he writes about the places he and Garfunkel frequent along with many other hopeful folk acts. One of the most recognizable guitar riffs in rock history almost never was. And over which, Dylan’s strange lyrics seem triumphant, yet also full of warning, as his unglamorous voice brimming with attitude, holds onto syllables as if they were gleeful riders on a hurtling-downward roller-coaster. Martha and the Vandellas – “Dancing In the Street". It’s “Born in the U.S.A.” without the irony and misinterpretation. It’s one of the better love songs of the ‘60s because of its doe-eyed simplicity, the ease of its melody, and, of course, the power of Valli’s voice when he belts the iconic “I LOVE YOU BABY!” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” will remain a classic until drunk grooms stop singing it at weddings, which is to say that it will always be a classic. But Nyro’s own original version from her landmark album “Eli and the Thirteenth Confession” remains definitive. But the song was a classic right from its first recording on the band’s 1969 self-titled debut album. It’s a soulful pop masterpiece that shows why Nyro was one of the great songwriters of her time. The romantic swoon and playful swing of those earlier singles was replaced with a Sinatra-like cool as he looks to the ocean and wonders what his lover is doing on the other side of that body of water other than “watching the ships that go sailing.” Would that he could split it in half like Moses and reunite with his lady love. King Crimson, “21st Century Schizoid Man”, 80. The very concept of the song (“California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day”) is evocative; but it is the execution of the song that makes it a masterpiece. Driven by Ruffin’s mesmerizing voice, the track became The Temptations’ first No. Phil Ochs, “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”, 52. Though they would continue to record and tour following the release of The Psychedelic Sounds…, nothing they did came remotely close to having the impact and ferocious psychedelic energy of their debut and its incendiary single and leadoff track, “You’re Gonna Miss Me.”—Ryan Bort, When Patti Smith name-checks this song in her book Just Kids as something important she heard on the radio in the late ‘60s, well, that must mean it’s culturally significant. Marvin Gaye, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, 6. Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” was a groundbreaking record, becoming the first song by a black all-girl group to reach No. There aren’t too many genres of rock The Beatles didn’t influence. Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” is the ultimate look at what was going on in the world during the 1960s. Brian Wilson put the song together from various recording sessions, combining its unique parts into a pop masterpiece. I was an unknown songwriter at the time and it was just an idea I had. 15. —Robert Ham, The key to loving this song is to falling hard for the very end when lead Angel Peggy Santiglia moves past the restraint she’s exhibited for the rest of the song and starts singing for the rafters. Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Wooden Ships”, 49. Odds are you’ve probably heard CCR’s “Fortunate Son” in some pop-culture medium, be it a TV show, movie or documentary. “Down by the River” is the best of both worlds when it comes to Neil Young. The song eventually made its way to Wilson, who delivers an amazing vocal performance backed by members of Motown’s The Funk Brothers, who were moonlighting with Brunswick Records to make some extra cash. Simple Simon says, Put your hands on your head, Let your back bone stretch, Simon says, Simple simon says, Put your hands on your head, Let your back bone stiff, Simon says, Put your hands on your head, Simple Simon says, Bring them down by your side, Simple Simon says, Shake them to your left, Simple Simon Says, Booker T and the MG’s, “Green Onions”, 74. “Dancing In the Street” was a perfectly written pop song that became a huge hit in 1964. 19. The Supremes, “Stop! Co-writer and producer Steve Cropper’s influence on the soulful record is clear. I asked if they’d mind if I sang “Sweet Caroline.” So the connection was made to this gathering at the New York Public Library. It gives you chills. Consisting of guitarist/singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel, the duo first met as children in Forest Hills, Queens, New York in 1953, where they first learned to harmonize with one another and began writing original material. The Rolling Stones, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, 33. It’s inspired countless “singing into a hairbrush” moments, in film and real life alike. 50. 10. 1 hits, every song marked a major step forward for the group and for Motown Records as a whole. The song would earn Wonder his first of many (MANY) Grammy nominations. —Hilary Saunders, Adapted from a French pop tune from the ‘40s, Bobby Darin’s follow up to the one-two commercial punch that was his other late ‘50s hits, “Dream Lover” and “Mack The Knife,” allowed the crooner to show off another shade to his versatile voice. 90. Simon Says is a popular game played by children where whoever has the role of "Simon" commands the other players to perform specific actions, which must only be followed if preceded by the phrase "Simon Says." Radio stations fell in love with Gaye’s version of the song, so much so that Gordy finally agreed to rename Gaye’s album “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” to capitalize on the song’s massive success. — Bonnie Stiernberg, One of the first supergroups, Cream—composed of Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton—moved from blues to psychedelic rock with their second album Disraeli Gears. 1 in seven years when he released “Suspicious Minds.” But the song about a relationship falling apart changed that. "Everyday People shows just how amazing Sly Stone was at taking ideas and thoughts about the political and social climate of the 1960s, and then working into song format. The Righteous Brothers, “Unchained Melody”, 97. Please support high-quality local journalism. The ancient concept of the round figures importantly, as do the very modern innovations of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, “Tramp”, 88. Everything about that has to do with James’ amazing vocal performance, a masterclass in singing that inspired future singers both male and female, from Rod Stewart and Diana Ross to Amy Winehouse and Adele. From the moment she utters "You’re no good, heartbreaker,” she owns you. The Four Tops – “Reach Out I’ll Be There”. Marvin Gaye followed suit for his 1968 album “In the Groove.” Only, Berry Gordy wasn’t a fan. Phil Ochs, the Texan-born singer, self-described social democrat, and revolutionary, epitomized this. Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin'” serves as one of his most universal songwriting masterpieces. Whether the lyrics implied drug consumption (as listeners suspected) or a foggy-brained love song (as Hendrix claimed) is irrelevant. Singer Matt Franks claims that Simon Says was never a "planned" band. I was already on the way to prison before I realized it, actually.” The marrying of sweet sentiments towards mama and the gruffness of life behind bars has lent the song a staying power in country music and popular culture at large, and the track has been covered by a multitude of acts, including The Grateful Dead, Reba McEntire and The Everly Brothers. 22. The extra time, no doubt, added to the songs depth and drama, accentuated by mariachi-inspired horns and a striking string section. Written by future 10cc member Graham Gouldman, the song still works in the way that romantic movies still capture our attention. But it wasn’t until later in the decade, when Ben E. King came on board, that the group began delivering some of its greatest material. Beyond Richards’ iconic riff (which he claims came to him in a dream), there’s Mick Jagger—part bluesman, part Marilyn Monroe—in top form, pouting out verses about being sexually frustrated and fed up with commercialism. Laden with clap-along drums and a flourishing string section, “Be My Baby” is a aural depiction of fresh, undying love; the kind that makes people nauseous both from it’s sickening sweetness and everyone desire to find the same. Smokey Robinson is undeniably one of the greatest songwriters in music history. “Dazed and Confused,” one of the lead, legendary originals from the band’s self-titled debut, however, helped lay down the groundwork for a storied decade to come. / With no direction home,” quickly became prophetic to them. Marvin Gaye – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine". But even the great Motown Records couldn’t control the song’s narrative. The list of people performing on the song is astonishing, from the instrumentation of The Wrecking Crew to backing vocals from The Blossoms, Sonny and Cher, Bobby Sheen and others. 1 single and knocking “Penny Lane” out of the top spot. Simply put: “Good Vibrations” changed the way pop music was made moving forward. Apparently the Sinatra gene runs strong. Booker T. & the M.G.’s – “Green Onions”. 52. —Steve Rosen, It’s telling that, 40-plus years after its initial release, “Space Oddity” remains a weird, weird song. Yet, The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” is an entirely different sonic beast that benefits greatly from Colin Blunstone’s stunning vocal performance. Much more than a classic rock anthem, “Piece of My Heart” is a cultural emblem in itself, as well as an icon of a timeless talent gone far too soon. Heavily inspired by the Texas blues that imbued her first musical endeavors, “Piece of My Heart” is a symbol of the time it was released; the perfect mix of blues and psychedelic hard rock to soundtrack the free-love ideology of the Hippie counterculture. “I Got You (I Feel Good)” is his highest-charting single, though, lead by Brown’s squeals, yelps, and shaking hips. When Grace Slick joined Jefferson Airplane, not only did the band get one of the greatest female voices in rock history. The Best 1960s Music was prominent with musical artists from England coming to the USA, also known as the British Invasion. Ours might be different if we did this again tomorrow. In 1968, “Fist City” was a revolution—a woman with no shame taking care of what’s hers. Many were preparing to seek radical change in so many ways, and that idea was both scary and liberating. But its titular song stands today as an immortal girl-group pop hit, a nuanced juxtaposition of little-girl sweetness and adult tragedy. That included “White Rabbit,” an acid trip of a song inspired by moments in “Alice in Wonderland" and lots of drugs. 6. —Adam Vitcavage, The Byrds—a ‘60s group including the folks who went on to become Crosby, Stills, and Nash—are eclectic. — Bonnie Stiernberg, The Supremes were, bar none, the most successful Motown girl group. Nowadays, the kids tend to describe an awesome piece of music by saying it “slaps.” At the end of the 1960s nothing slapped harder than “Gimme Shelter.” It’s the coolest of the cool, a song that put the cherry on top of the decade, while prepping the rock world for what came next. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock fo the Bay” is more restrained than every other Otis Redding hit, which may be what makes it so darn enticing. The Mamas and the Papas sang backup on Barry McGuire’s original “California Dreamin.'" After the track hit number one, The Temptations’ decidedly less gritty version was released, but by then, Starr’s take had already cemented its status as the definitive version. Stephen Stills’ lyrics are profound with Neil Young’s subtle guitar playing adding a sense of urgency. The iconic chorus features Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson all singing in unison, throwing up choreographed hand gestures that undoubtedly inspired the wrist-twisting of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It.” —Hilary Saunders, Well, lemme tell ya now: With that piano slide and a bassline that just can’t be beat, this one’s a shoe-in. Big Brother and the Holding Company, “Piece of My Heart”, 29. Phil Spector long considered “River Deep Mountain High” to be the peak of his Wall of Sound production style. They're a metalcore band with nu metal influences. But within the band’s own history, “Crimson and Clover” served as the turning point for more conceptual work. It’s impossible. 12—respectively. —Lane Billings and Logan Lockner, The music was phenomenal. It’s a blistering piece of proto-punk, one that set the stage for any outlandish, fuzzed-out guitar line that would follow in a garage, and Iggy Pop’s unforgettable wails—“Now I wanna be your dog!”—can’t be unheard. —Robert Ham, It’s hard to think of any one record that has influenced an entire genre as much as the 13th Floor Elevators’ seminal debut The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators influenced the future of psych rock. There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I’ve got to beware. Then Jimi Hendrix hijacked it. What makes the opening of The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go” so great is that the marching sound anchors the track throughout. The song still landed in the top 10 on charts in both England and the United States. Their catalog included their infamous, yet, most famous, f-bomb-dropping “Kick Out the Jams”—a hard-rocking tune that’s been covered by the likes of Rage Against the Machine and Pearl Jam. Reggae originated in the Jamaica in this decade, combining elements of ska, R&B, and Caribbean percussion to give sound to the country’s diaspora and social issues. 2 and No. (de) The 1910 Fruitgum Company is an American bubblegum pop band of the 1960s. Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”. Mick Jagger wrote a rough version of the song in more of a Bob Dylan-esque folk format. What are the greatest songs of the 1960s? 1 single by an all-girl group. “The Weight” is a song that’s taken on mythological status for two reasons. Aretha Franklin – “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”. Again, it may have been insubstantial on its own, but the very English nostalgia is a perfect fit with Lennon’s moody discourse on the dingy present. Stax president Jim Stewart apparently thought ”[Redding’s] rawness and [Thomas’s] sophistication would work” together. But Keith Richards convinced him to beef up the production with Brazilian samba sounds. This is the title track from Simon's 1975 album of the same name. King came after his peak period. — Bonnie Stiernberg, This song is the consummate piece of early ‘60s pop. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”. But when it comes to the Miracles, he wasn’t a one-man show. “Many Rivers To Cross” is a reggae song that, along with the album “The Harder They Come,” helped spread the popularity of the genre worldwide. “White Room” was put together, in all his genius, by Jack Bruce. I have Xm radio and a song came on that said "do what Simon says" I've been looking for it everywhere and I can't seen to find it. This was only a prelude to the true greatness to come. And yet, in 1969, when bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones were playing stadiums with electric guitars, he got his band of violins and horns together to record this emotional song in his unique style that endures to this day. Eric Burdon saw potential in it, adding it to The Animals’ repertoire in the early 1960s. “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” criticizes America’s futile Vietnam invasion with zing and zest over quick acoustic strumming in the tradition of folk heroes like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthie. “”Some things we fudged on slightly to make it rhyme, but the majority of it’s pretty accurate, I guess,” Haggard told NPR of the song in 2010. We have all, at one point or another, longed to stumble upon that special someone in “meet cute” fashion. The song was based on the children's game "Simon Says". —Kyle McKenney, As the American public and mass media learned in the ‘60s, one of the best ways to protest unsavory governmental decisions was through song. 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