220px-TheDoorsTheDoorsalbumcoverThe Doors – “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” – (1967)

From the self-titled debut album of The Doors comes one of their most upbeat songs. This was their first single and it was a great one, even if it was unsuccessful upon release. If you want to hear what an “electric” guitar sounds like, pay close attention here because the guitar in this song sounds like it has a million volts zinging through the strings.

smileysmilecover#1 – The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations” – (1967)

“Good Vibrations” was released as a stand alone single in October 1966. It appeared on Smiley Smile the following year but this masterpiece first came alive in the recording studio during the Boys’ recording of Pet Sounds – one of the greatest albums of all time. The full genius of Brian Wilson is on display in the mixing and recording of this track – at the time it was the most expensive song ever recorded (it would’ve cost over $500,000 in today’s dollars). Listen to the layers – there’s so much going on and it almost defines the era from which it sprang. Like it or not, what was accomplished with this lone track is pretty much responsible for about everything we’ve heard on the radio in the past few decades. 

aretha_franklin_-_i_never_loved_a_man_the_way_i_love_you#2 – Aretha Franklin – “Respect” – (1967)

One of the greatest soul records of all time, “Respect” was originally written and recorded by Otis Redding in 1965. Aretha’s cover is one of the best known songs anywhere. She took it uptempo and paved the way for female artists for decades to come.

14231337_10155239453374966_3845707010656425530_o#3 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – (1967)

This might be the best “Motown” song (even though technically it was released on Tamla label, which is what Motown was called first). Marvin Gaye had a lot of duet hits in the 1960s and did an entire album with Tammi Terrell. It’s been covered a lot (and Diana Ross took it to #1) but this is and always will be the best version. Fun fact: this song was written by Ashford & Simpson who would have their own success about a dozen years later.

220px-lets_live_for_today#5 – The Grass Roots – “Let’s Live For Today” – (1967)

“Let’s Live for Today” is an underrated song for the 1960s. If you look at it in the context of Vietnam, it really should rank right up there with the best songs of the era. It was originally recorded by The Rokes in the U.K. The Grass Roots made it a hit in the U.S.

blowin-yourmind#6 – Van Morrison – “Brown Eyed Girl” – (1967)

This is one of the all-time greats. A lot of Van Morrison’s songs are… well “somber” might not be the best word, but they aren’t all really upbeat and happy. But this one is. And really, it may have been originally released in 1967, but it could’ve come out whenever. It’s timeless.

220px-fourtops-reachout-album#7 – The Four Tops – “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” – (1967)

Here is probably the best song by one of the best Motown acts of the 60s. Written by Holland-Dozier-Holland, this #1 hit remains one of the best-known soul songs of all time. The lead vocals are spot on – as are the backing vocals and great rhythm. Motown really had a way to make it all come together seamlessly. 

frankievalli#8 – Frankie Valli – “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” – (1967)

If you’ve ever seen Jersey Boys you’ll know that this song was written by Bob Guadio and Bob Crewe and was presented to Frankie Valli to record as a solo record. It ended up being a smash hit, hitting #2 in the U.S. and rivaling some of the Four Seasons best work as Frankie Valli’s best performance. It’s a classic.

220px-jeffair#9 – Jefferson Airplane – “Somebody to Love” – (1967)

This, possibly the signature song of Jefferson Airplane, was originally recorded by The Great Society, Grace Slick’s band immediately prior to this one and was written by her brother-in-law. It ended up in the top five on the Hot 100 and might be the defining song of the acid rock scene that developed in San Francisco in the late 1960s.

jackie_wilson_-_higher_and_higher#12 – Jackie Wilson – “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher” – (1967)

This top ten hit from Jackie Wilson is a great example of upbeat soul music that did not come from Motown. It’s a great vocal with a great beat and was the best song Wilson ever released.

220px-groovin#13 – The Young Rascals – “Groovin'” – (1967)

This top five album from The Young Rascals (later, The Rascals after they presumably aged a to hit whatever arbitrary age they decided they were no longer “young”) features this #1 hit. It’s a great summer song and pretty relaxing: perfect for dropping acid in the middle of a park in the 1960s.

220px-thebeatlesmagicalmysterytouralbumcover#14 – The Beatles – “All You Need Is Love” – (1967)

More like “All You Need is Copyright Law.” The hardest place to find the Beatles is YouTube. Hey, but I guess McCartney needs the money… which must be nice because he is credited as a co-writer of this song, even though John Lennon wrote it. It was a #1 all over the world, including the U.S. and U.K. Included on Magical Mystery Tour, you can just imagine this song at the heart of Swinging London.

are_you_experienced_-_us_cover-edit#15 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Purple Haze” – (1967)

Jimi Hendrix may have been an incredible guitarist, but he doesn’t sound anything like his records when he performs live. This was a big hit all over the world and was only Hendrix’s second single so we can thank it for really help launch him into the mainstream.

the_turtles_-_happy_together#16 – The Turtles – “Happy Together” – (1967)

The 60s were a great time for rock and roll – but pop music had its place too. This psychedelic pop song was a #1 hit in the U.S. and, as its name implies, is just a very upbeat and happy song.

61fcdkzeqkl#17 – The Chambers Brothers – “Time Has Come Today” – (1967)

This is one of few songs that can easily be imagined to be blaring out of the side of a helicopter buzzing over Vietnam. Probably because it was used in a movie to that effect. It’s a great example of psychedelic rock. The album version of this song is 11 minutes long, but the radio version is much shorter. Also, The Chambers Brothers were four brothers from L.A. (all African-American) and they had one white guy in the band, the drummer. Which I think makes them the inverse of Hootie & the Blowfish.

supremes-sing-hdh#18 – The Supremes – “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” – (1967)

Damn The Supremes were good. Not only them: so were Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland, who wrote this and so many other Motown hits. This song has been a #1 hit twice, first with The Supremes, and later again in the 1980s with Kim Wilde.

the_youngbloods_get_together_album#20 – The Youngbloods – “Get Together” – (1967)

Those first notes of this song can really set your state of mind. It puts you right there in the flower power era. First recorded by the Kingston Trio, it became a huge hit for The Youngbloods – their only top 40 hit.

incense_and_peppermints_album#21 – Strawberry Alarm Clock – “Incense and Pepermints” – (1967)

This is about as psychedelic as psychedelic pop and rock ever got. 1967 was a great year for music – the 60s turmoil thing was in full swing. You had far out stuff like this, Motown was firing on all cylinders, and some of the best protest songs ever came out this year. This song is pure 60s. It was even a #1 hit.

mi0000488311#3 – Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World” – (1968)

Not sure I really need to say much about this song. It’s one of the prettiest songs ever recorded. Although originally released as a single in October of 1967, it didn’t appear on an album until 1970. Don’t ask why we’re included it in 1968. Armstrong rose to fame in the 1920s and to release this sort of landmark song in your late 60s is unbelievable. It doesn’t matter what genres you prefer, it’s hard to dislike this song.

220px-odessey_and_oracle#4 – The Zombies – “Time of the Season” – (1968)

This is one of the best examples of 1960s flower power psychedelic rock. I mean, just look at that album cover. This song almost never become a hit – the record company only released it after other singles from Odyssey and Oracle flopped and it went to #3 in the U.S. It’s simply one of the most “1960s” songs you can listen to.

Sonny & Cher – “The Beat Goes On” – (1967)

This isn’t a duet in the same vein as the other duets we’ve featured. Sonny & Cher were a duo and thus, all of their songs were duets. This song was written by Sonny Bono. This song made it to #6 on the Hot 100 and it remains one of their best-known songs.

#12 – Nancy Sinatra – “You Only Live Twice” – (1967)

This rather popular Bond theme was the theme for the 5th Bond movie starring Sean Connery and his last before George Lazenby took over for one film. Connery of course was brought back after Lazenby. But this was it for a few years. The song is very late-1960s and Nancy Sinatra invokes more of a Swinging London Austin Powers vibe than it does stealthy James Bond in Japan. Fun fact: if you listen closely at the beginning of the song, you’ll notice those strings were lifted from this song and used in Robbie Williams’ late-90s Bond tribute “Millennium.”

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – “Casino Royale Theme” – (1967)

The 1967 film Casino Royale was not an “official” James Bond movie. It’s a satire of James Bond films and it starred David Niven as James Bond and co-stars Peter Sellers and Orson Welles. It’s truly a bizarre movie. This theme music is an over-the-top 1960s swinging instrumental. It was actually a #1 for Alpert on the Easy Listening chart and a top 30 hit on the Hot 100. And every time I hear this song I think of the Saturday Light Live skit in which it was used where Will Forte and Peyton Manning dance to it in a locker room. I can’t find a video of it though.

#7 – The Royal Guardsmen – “Snoopy’s Christmas” – (1967)

“Snoopy’s Christmas” is a novelty rock song about World War I from the late 60s from a band who seemed to only sing about Snoopy (their only other hit was “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron,” and this is a follow-up to that). For some reason I really like the part where they sing “Christmas bells, those Christmas bells.” Other songs related to animated characters: “Frosty the Snowman” by Jimmy Durante (the version from the cartoon) and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry (the first official recording – he also wrote and performed “Here Comes Santa Claus“).