Hey buddies! How you have been? In today’s post, we will consider the 60s music and the best songs of that time. The 1960s era witnessed a notable expansion of rock ‘n’ roll into diverse subgenres, including psychedelic rock, folk rock, garage rock, and blues rock.
Prominent bands like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience emerged and established themselves as the most influential groups.
In fact, musicians such as Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and David Bowe used their music to address social and political issues inspiring aspiring artists to raise their voices too.
The 1960s also witnessed refinements in recording technology including multitrack recording and synthesizers. Subsequently, it helped in laying the cornerstone of forthcoming genres like electronic music and the use of synthesizers in various musical styles.
However, it is quite difficult to include each and every hit song from the 60s. Here we have compiled a list of the best songs. So, let’s check out the list of 50 Most Influential Songs from the 60s that shaped the music scene.
1- Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan
American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan released the song “Like a Rolling Stone” on 20 July 1965. The song ranked #1 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004 and 2010. Dylan’s website released an official music video for “Like a Rolling Stone” in 2013.
2- I Heard It Through The Grapevine: Marvin Gaye
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” is one of the best songs of the 60s music scene. Marvin Gaye’s version reached the number-one position on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, holding that spot for seven consecutive weeks. In fact, it surpassed the Gladys Knight & the Pips version to become the most successful single within the Motown family of labels.
3- Good Vibrations: The Beach Boys
Good Vibrations is a hit song released on October 10, 1966. The music is considered one of the finest and most influential works of the rock era. It was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Moreover, the song served as an anthem for the counterculture of the 1960s.
4- Crazy: Patsy Cline
Crazy is a chart-topping song from Patsy Cline’s album Showcase. It was released in October 1961. The song reached second position on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart. Several artists covered the song and other versions also reached the charts in a variety of genres.
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5- I Can’t Get No(Satisfaction): The Rolling Stones
I Can’t Get No(Satisfaction) is one of the greatest pieces of music from the 60s. The Rolling Stones released the single on 5 June 1965. In July, an American version of the song was released for the album Out of Our Heads. It remains one of the signature songs of the band.
6- California Dreamin’: The Mamas & The Papas
American folk-rock group The Mamas & The Papas released the hit single California Dreamin’ on 8 December 1965. The song was certified 3x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It incorporates elements of Sunshine pop and folk rock subgenres.
7- Space Oddity: David Bowie
Next up, is David Bowe’s Space Oddity from his second studio album. The song gained success after its release in 1973. It blends elements of folk, pop, and rock, showcasing Bowie’s unique vocals and his talent for crafting captivating storytelling through lyrics.
8- Paint It Black: The Rolling Stones
Paint It Black is a hit song by the Rolling Stones from the 60s. Famous for its dark and intense sound, the song stands as one of its most popular and recognizable tracks. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included it in the list of The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.
9- You Really Got Me: The Kinks
You Really Got Me is one of the most influential songs of the rock band The Kinks. The popular 60s song played a vital role in shaping the rock music scene. It reached number one on the UK charts and other spots in different charts in the US, Canada, Australia, etc.
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10- Hey Jude: The Beatles
The Beatles released Hey Jude as a non-album single on 26 August 1968. It reached number one in numerous countries worldwide and emerged as the best-selling single of the year in the UK, the US, Australia, and Canada. It is one of the best songs from the 60s music scene.
11- You Can’t Hurry Love: The Supremes
You Can’t Hurry Love is the second single from The Supremes’ ninth studio album. Its lyrics convey a message about love, emphasizing the virtues of patience and resilience. The song reached number one on the Billboard pop singles chart and the top five on the UK charts.
12- Israelites: Desmond Dekker & the Aces
Israelites is one of the most influential songs in the ska and reggae genres. The song was the first UK reggae number 1 and among the first to reach the US top ten. It actually narrates the tale of the working class in Jamaica, shedding light on the problems and challenges they faced.
13- God Only Knows: The Beach Boys
God Only Knows is a 1966 song from the Beach Boys’ album Pet Boys. The lyrics of the song evoke a profound sense of devotion and delve into the intricate and uncertain nature of love. In 2021, Rolling Stone ranked the song as #11 on its list of Greatest songs in history.
14- Eight Miles High: The Byrds
The Byrds released the song Eight Miles High on 14 March 1966. The song incorporated elements of psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop, and raga rock. It is considered the classic of the counterculture era. Although the song faced controversy because of its lyrics, it received critical success.
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15- The Sound of Silence: Simon & Garfunkel
The Sound of Silence is a hit song from Simon & Garfunkel’s studio album “Sounds of Silence” released in 1966. It is one of the most influential songs from the 60s music era. The song delves into themes of separation, aloneness, and the breakdown of communication in the present world.
16- Oscillations: Silver Apples
Here is another hit song Oscillations. It is one of the Silver Apples’ most popular songs released in 1968. The song blended elements of psychedelic rock with electronic music, creating a unique and innovative sonic experience. Spin magazine ranked the song #25 on its list of The Top 100 Alternative Albums of the 1960s.
17- Come Together: The Beatles
Rock band The Beatles released the song Come Together from their album Abbey Road. The song became a major hit for the Beatles, topping the charts in the United States and various other countries. Several publications such as Rolling Stone, NME, and Entertainment Weekly included it in their lists of greatest songs.
18- Dancing in the Street: Martha and the Vandellas
Dancing in the Street is a hit song from Martha and the Vandellas released under the Motown record label. Marvin Gaye, William “Mickey” Stevenson, and Ivy Jo Hunter wrote the song. Additionally, it reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number in the UK Singles chart.
19- My Generation: The Who
The next one is the chart-topping hit song My Generation from “The Who”. It was released on 29 October 1965 in the UK and on 20 November 1965 in the US. It became one of the band’s most influential signature songs. the song indeed depicts the younger generation’s frustrations and disillusionment during that era.
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20- Light My Fire: The Doors
The 1967 song Light My Fire was released as the lead single from the band The Doors’ self-titled debut album. The song has earned recognition as one of the pioneering tracks in the psychedelic rock genre. “Light My Fire” stands out for its remarkable fusion of rock, psychedelic, and jazz influences, creating a unique and captivating musical blend.
21- Born to be Wild: Steppenwolf
Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild is one of the most successful music pieces of the band released in the 60s. The lyrics of the song depict feelings of freedom, adventure, and a longing to break free from societal norms. It was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
22- Respect: Aretha Franklin
Respect is a famous song originally by Otis Redding. Aretha Franklin covered the song and it became more successful than the previous one. It focused on equality, respect, and the importance of self-worth. The song became a feminist anthem in the 1970s second-wave feminism movement.
23- Green Onions: Booker T. & the M.G.’s
The R&B/soul band Booker T. & the M.G.’s. released its hit song Green Onions in 1962. It is one of the most famous instrumental rock and soul songs ever. The single reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for four weeks. It is also one of the most popular R&B instrumentals of the 60s music scene.
24- Waterloo Sunset: The Kinks
Waterloo Sunset is The Kinks’ first single to be available in true stereo. They released the song for the album “Something Else by The Kinks”. Rolling Stone ranked the song at number 14 on its list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
25- Unchained Melody: The Righteous Brothers
The Righteous Brothers released one of the timeless ballads Unchained Melody in 1965. Several artists covered the song in different languages and surprisingly most of the covered songs proved to be chart toppers in different countries.
26- Brown Eyed Girl: Van Morrison
Brown Eyed Girl is a hit song from Van Morrison’s album Blowin’ Your Mind. The song blends rock, folk, and R&B elements and continues to captivate audiences even decades after its initial release. The song was ranked No. 131 as one of the RIAAs Songs of the Century’s list of the top 365 songs of the 20th century.
27- I Got You: James Brown
James Brown released the song I Got You recorded for his album Out of Sight and released it as a single in 1965. In fact, It is one of the best songs by James Brown. “I Got You” is James’s highest-charting song. It topped the Billboard R&B singles for non-sequential six weeks.
28- Ring of Fire: Johnny Cash
RIAA’s gold-certified song Ring of Fire is a masterpiece by nonother than Johnny Cash. The song indeed stayed at number one on the country chart for seven weeks. “Ring of Fire” depicts passion and emotions experienced when being deeply in love.
29- Mercy, Mercy, Mercy: Cannonball Adderley
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy is a jazz track from Cannonball Adderley’s album Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at “The Club”. The song reached number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number two on the Soul chart. Marlena Shaw’s cover of this song also became a chart-topping hit.
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30- Dazed & Confused: Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin’s cover of Dazed & Confused was released in 1969 for their self-titled debut album. The famous guitarist Jimmy Page wrote the hit song. The lyrics of the song often explore themes of perplexity and confusion within a romantic relationship.
31- Cathy’s Clown: The Everly Brothers
Cathy’s Clown is one of the best-selling singles of The Everly Brothers. The song topped the charts in the US and Uk as well. Significantly, it became The Everly Brothers’ first and only number-one hit in the UK. The lyrics depict the feelings of a man after a woman’s rejected him.
32- Fortunate Son: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival released the song Fortunate Son on the fourth album Willy and the Poor Boys(1969). The song received the RIAA Gold Disc award. It also became the anti-war movement anthem during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
33- I’m Still in Love with You: Alton Ellis
I’m Still in Love with You is one of Alton Ellis’ best pieces of music released in the 60s. The classic reggae song is a heart-touching ballad that captures the emotions of someone deeply in love, in spite of the challenges faced in the relationship. It reached number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
34- I Like It Like That: Pete Rodriguez
I Like It Like That is a Pete Rodriguez song. It became one of the most popular boogaloo songs of that time. Other artists and bands also covered the song. The song reached several US Billboard charts including Dance Music/Maxi Singles, Mainstream, and Hot 100.
35- Sugar Sugar: The Archies
Sugar Sugar is the most influential bubblegum pop single of all time. The Archies released it in 1969, where Ron Dante and Toni Wine provided the vocals along with Jeff Barry and Andy Kim provided the lyrics of the song. It became a huge hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and topping the charts in several other countries.
36- Gimme Shelter: The Rolling Stones
Gimme Shelter is a hit song from The Rolling Stones’ album “Let It Bleed” released in 1969. The publication Rolling Stone ranked the song at number 13 on its list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song represents the harsh realities of war, delving into subjects such as murder, rape, and fear.
37- A Day in the Life: The Beatles
A Day in the Life is an iconic song released in 1967 as the final track on The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In fact, this is one of the finest songs of the Beatles. It remains one of the most successful songs in the history of music, appearing on lists of the greatest songs of all time.
38- I Can’t Explain: The Who
I Can’t Explain is a hit song from The Who released in 1964. It was the first single released under the name The Who. Several publications including Spin, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork Media include it in their list of the Greatest Songs. It also reached the Top 10 on the UK Singles Chart.
39- Think: Aretha Franklin
The classic song “Think” from the 60s became one of Aretha’s most iconic songs. It reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and topped the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart. Her ex-husband Ted White wrote the song. The song also received an RIAA gold certification.
40- Be My Baby: The Ronettes
The Ronettes’ biggest hit track was Be My Baby released in 1963. Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector wrote the classic song. It reached number two in the United States and number four in the United Kingdom. The love ballad indeed conveys the singer’s heartfelt yearning for their romantic partner to be with the singer.
41- My Girl: The Temptations
My Girl is a soul music song from The Temptations’ album The Temptations Sing Smokey. The song became their first number-one single in the US. It also ranked on different charts in various countries. Its lyrics express love and adoration for a special one. The song celebrates the joy and happiness that one feels with someone in love.
42- A Change Is Gonna Come: Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke’s song “A Change Is Gonna Come” delves into the racial and social tensions prevalent in the 1960s. Its lyrics portray the problems and challenges that African Americans faced during that era and also a sense of hope for a brighter future.
43- I Want You Back: The Jackson 5
The famous family band The Jackson 5 released the single I Want You Back in 1969. The song achieved significant success, reaching the number-one position on the Soul Singles chart for four weeks and holding the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for a specific week
44- Fist City: Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn’s Fist City is one of the best pieces of music from the 60s. The song’s lyrics narrate a story where one woman warns another to stay away from her man. In fact, it carries a message of loyalty and the determination to protect one’s love. The song topped the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
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45- Then He Kissed Me: The Crystals
The next one on the list is Then He Kissed Me from the popular girls’ group The Crystals. Pitchfork ranked it at number 18 on its list of “The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s”. This popular tune has also made its way into various movies, including “Adventures in Babysitting” and “Goodfellas”.
47- At Last: Etta James
Etta James covered the song At Last and included it as the title track in her debut album. Although, the original version topped the chart. James’ cover received induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The lyrics of the song depict the feelings of happiness that come with finding true love after waiting for a long time.
48- I Wanna Be Your Dog: The Stooges
“I Wanna Be Your Dog” is one of the most popular songs of the band The Stooges released in 1969. Pitchfork Media ranked it at #16 on its “The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s” list. The song indeed presents urge, request, and dependency within a relationship.
49- Purple Haze: Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 song “Purple Haze” is a blend of hard rock and psychedelic rock. It quickly became one of Jimi Hendrix’s most popular songs and also a signature piece frequently featured in his captivating live performances. It is widely regarded as one of the defining songs of the psychedelic rock era.
50- Yesterday: The Beatles
Yesterday is one of the most iconic pieces of music from the 60s era. The Beatles released the song on the album Help! The song eventually reached number one on the US charts. The lyrics depict emotions of lost love and yearning, as the singer fondly recalls a past relationship. In fact, “Yesterday” is one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music