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The 1960s mark a conflicting time in history for the United States. There was a lot of political uprising and radical social movements that gave way to greater equality and even saw many young people dropping out of the political sphere altogether and becoming part of the Free Love movement.
John Lennon of The Beatles described the decade by saying, “The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.”
Our top 60’s music playlist spotlights decade-defining artists and thought-provoking lyrics that will give you plenty to mull over and sing along to on your next road trip.
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Now, onto the tunes!
1. Everybody’s Talkin’ – Harry Nilsson
2. House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
3. These Boots are Made for Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra
4. Surfin’ U.S.A. – The Beach Boys
America’s answer to the Beatles, the Beach Boys started as a garage band in 1961 in Hawthorne, CA. Their first top-ten single, “Surfin’ U.S.A.”, embodies the long romanticized West Cost lifestyle, and the single rode the waves of the Billboard charts for 25 weeks.
Not only did the song become quintessential to California sound, but it also made it onto The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.
5. Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
5. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
7. Come Together – The Beatles
Of course, you can’t talk about the Sixties without mentioning The Beatles. The lasting impression John, Paul, George, and Ringo left on the world is still evident today. From Liverpool, 1960, to 2020, there’s no denying that England’s crown jewel of music is still worth listening to and learning from.
“Come Together” was written by John Lennon and serves as a “political rallying cry writer, psychologist and pro-drugs activist Timothy Leary.” as explained by thebeatlesbible.com.
The open voice against Ronald Reagan’s campaign for the governor of California was something unprecedented in music, and The Beatles stood as a symbol of confidence and unification for the global youth.
8. Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles
9. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
10. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones
11. I’m a Believer – The Monkees
12. I Heard it Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye
13. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
14. I Say a Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin
15. Do You Love Me – The Contours
16. Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra, Count Basie
17. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
18. To Love Somebody – Bee Gees
19. The Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
20. Stuck on You – Elvis Presley
“Stuck on You” was Presley’s first release after serving two-years in the U.S. Army. It went on to become his 10th #1 single of 1960 and 13th overall.
The King would go on to release two more #1 hits the same year: “Are You Lonesome To-Night?” and It’s Now or Never”.
21. Come See About Me – The Supremes
22. I Got You Babe – Sonny & Cher
23. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head – B.J. Thomas, Burt Bacharach
24. Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys
25. Be My Baby – The Ronettes
26. You Can’t Hurry Love – The Supremes
The 1960s was a bright time for female artists. The rise of powerful girl groups like The Supremes gave a voice to a new generation of women.
The Supremes were signed to Motown Records and produced a total of 12 #1 hits throughout their music career, including the 1966 pop classic “You Can’t Hurry Love”. Billboard listed the song at #19 on its “100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time” list.
27. Happy Together – The Turtles
28. The Twist – Chubby Checker
29. Hey Jude
30. Tossin’ and Turnin’ – Bobby Lewis
31. I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Beatles
32. I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You – Ray Charles
33. Sugar, Sugar – The Archies
A digital phenomenon of the Sixties, The Archies were a virtual garage band comprised of the main characters from the Archie TV series.
Based out of the fictional town of Riverdale, the group featured Archie Andrews as the lead vocalist and guitarist alongside his friends Jughead Jones on the drums, Betty Cooper on the tambourine, Veronica Lodge on the organ, and classmate Reggie Mantle on the bass. The band was conducted by Jughead’s dog, Hot Dog.
34. My Girl – The Temptations
35. (What a) Wonderful World – Sam Cooke
36. Respect – Aretha Franklin
37. Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
38. Let the Sunshine In – The 5th Dimension
39. It’s in the Kiss – Betty Everett
40. Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las
41. (Love is Like a) Heat Wave – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
42. I Heard it Through the Grapevine – Gladys Knight & The Pips
43. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell
44. Sherry – Frank Valli & The Four Seasons
45. Stand By Me – Ben E. King
46. Down on the Corner – Creedence Clearwater Revival
47. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
48. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) – The Tokens
This song has appeared in countless movies, and now it’s more ironically scream-sung than genuinely appreciated, but the truth of the matter is that The Tokens enjoyed 15 weeks on the Billboard charts in 1961, three of which were spent at the very top.
49. Sunny – Bobby Hebb
50. Everlasting Love – Love Affair
51. Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
52. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
53. For Once in My Life – Stevie Wonder
54. Chapel of Love – The Dixie Cups
55. I Get Around – The Beach Boys
56. Hey Now – Lesley Gore
57. Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes
58. Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations
59. It’s My Party – Lesley Gore
60. My Guy – Mary Wells
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