March 2018

R-8793261-1468877099-4692.jpeg#1 – Dion – “Runaround Sue” – (1961)

It starts off slowly, but this quickly becomes one of the catchiest songs you’ll ever hear. It was a #1 hit for Dion after he left The Belmonts. It’s so damned good and is a great example of late doo wop that exhibited a good mix of rock and roll.

220px-Elvis_presley_nowornever#2 – Elvis Presley – “It’s Now or Never” – (1960)

Oh well, this single was released in the middle of 1960. It’s Elvis’ second-best-selling single and one of the biggest singles of all time. I consider it to be the greatest vocal performance there is. It’s based on “O Sole Mio,” the famous Italian song. A #1 hit, it is said the song was written in about 30 minutes.

220px-Hi-werethemiracles-1961#3 – The Miracles – “Shop Around” – (1961)

Written by Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson, this song was recorded by the group that would later become Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. It’s immensely catchy in its vocal delivery and tells the story of a woman who tells her son to date a bunch of women. It peaked at #2 on the pop charts.

Runaway_(Del_Shannon_song)_single_cover#4 – Del Shannon – “Runaway” – (1961)

What a great song. This might be the epitome of post-1950s, pre-Beatles rock and roll. It was a #1 hit, Shannon’s biggest, and has been covered and featured countless times. Tom Petty must be a fan of this song because he references it in “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and actually recorded it as part of the Traveling Wilburys, which led to rumors that Del Shannon was going to join the group… which would’ve been awesome.

Cupid_Sam_Cooke#5 – Sam Cooke – “Cupid” – (1961)

Man, I wish Sam Cooke would’ve lived longer. We missed out on a lot of good music. This song peaked at #17 and was written by Cooke himself. I want to say this is one of hist most recognizable songs, but I feel like that can be said of about 10 different Sam Cooke songs.

220px-At_Last_-_Etta_James#6 – Etta James – “At Last” – (1960)

This is one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s Etta’s signature song but was originally written for a movie in 1941 where it was performed by Glenn Miller. It only reached #47 on the Hot 100, but it’s since been enshrined in the Grammy Hall of Fame and in wedding videos from coast to coast.

R-4060042-1353886337-7710.jpeg#7 – The Tokens – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – (1961)

I couldn’t spell the famous opening of this song if I had to. But they do say “Wimoweh” quite a lot. It was used in The Lion King but this is the most famous version, hitting #1 on the pop chart. Also, that guy in the middle below looks like Drew Carey.

JumpUpCalypso#8 – Harry Belafonte – “Jump in the Line” – (1961)

If it didn’t sound like it was recorded by a live band in pre-Castro Cuba, I would’ve had no idea this song was as old as it is. It’s way more upbeat than just about anything from this era. This Calypso classic was written in 1946, Belafonte did his version in ’61 and it gained huge attention in 1988 when it was featured in Beetlejuice.

R-2545674-1289779843.jpeg#9 – B. Bumble and the Stingers – “Bumble Boogie” – (1961)

The awesomely-named B. Bumble and the Stingers were an instrumental group that recorded rock versions of classical music, including this take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee” that is definitely more fun than the original.

220px-Shirelles_tonight's_the_night#10 – The Shirelles – “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” – (1961)

This was the first girl group #1 hit. Written by Carole King and her husband Gerry Goffin, this is the earliest “modern” (i.e. not the Andrews Sisters) girl group song I can think of. It set the stage for everything that came after it, from the Ronettes, to the Supremes, to Destiny’s Child.