117614483#3 – Little Eva – “The Loco-Motion” – (1962)

The cool part about this song, which was co-written by Carole King, is that it has charted into the top five on the Hot 100 in three different decades by three different artists. This is the original, but it was also done by Grand Funk Railroad and Kylie Minogue. Fun fact, this song was written for Dee Dee Sharp, who turned it down. So Little Eva recorded it… who at the time was Carole King’s babysitter.

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220px-ILeftMyHeartInSanFranciscoLP#4 – Tony Bennett – “The Best Is Yet To Come” – (1962)

Tony Bennett released this as a single in 1961 and included it on one of his great albums, I Left My Heart in San Francisco. Some people associate this song with Sinatra, but it’s all Tony Bennett. I do like that we’re back in time to the point where some of the great jazz vocalists and pop standards singers are starting to make appearances on these yearly lists.

BookerT.&theMG'sGreenOnions#5 – Booker T. & the M.G.’s – “Green Onions” – (1962)

Here is one of the great pop music instrumentals. This song is a staple in films, especially those that take place in the early 1960s… it’s just one of those tunes you instantly recognize.

Palisadespark45#6 – Freddy Cannon – “Palisades Park” – (1962)

This might seem like a throwaway pop song (though it did peak at #3), but it’s just so damned catchy that I can’t help but include it. Plus any song that manages to work in “I gave that girl a hug… in the tunnel of looove.” Also, it was written by Gong Show host Chuck Barris.

R-5163300-1386222628-8072.jpeg#7 – Gene Chandler – “Duke of Earl” – (1962)

“Du, Du, Du, Duke of Earl.” Probably best remembered for the way the song begins with the stuttering repetition of the title, this is a song with amazing vocals as you get into it. The doo-wop backing vocals are just the basis for Chandler really belting out some quality stuff.

220px-The-contours-do-you-love-me#8 – The Contours – “Do You Love Me” – (1962)

“Do You Love Me,” which was later covered successfully by The Dave Clark Five, is a song about what is quite possibly the most shallow woman ever. This poor guy is singing about getting dumped because he can’t dance and, apparently, she will only love him if he can dance. Which is pretty terrible. But at least at makes for a catchy song.

Surfin'SafariCover#9 – The Beach Boys – “409” – (1962)

Surf rock strikes yet again. This time it’s The Beach Boys with a song about cars. Okay, so I guess this is more Hot Rod Rock than Surf Rock. It’s about Chevy’s 409 engine, famously used in the early Impala SS cars.

220px-Breaking-up-is-hard-to-do-neil-sedaka#10 – Neil Sedaka – “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” – (1962)

Neil Sedaka got his start in the late 1950s and was still releasing big pop hits in the mid-1970s. But this #1 hit from 1962 is the one song that anyone who knows the name Neil Sedaka knows. It’s proof that doo-wop was still kickin’ in ’62.

Surfer's_Choice#11 – Dick Dale and His Del-Tones – “Miserlou” – (1962)

Here is a surf rock classic. It just might be the best example of surf guitar you’ll ever hear. Dick Dale, who is still around, absolutely shreds on this track, which is based on an Eastern Mediterranean folk song. This was from Dale’s debut album and it stands as possibly his greatest work.

R-2746670-1299184306.jpeg#12 – Bobby Vee – “Take Good Care of My Baby” – (1961)

This was actually a hit in 1961 (oh well) and, did you know, it was written by Carole King and her writing partner and husband Gerry Goffin. This was Bobby Vee’s biggest hit and it’s a great example of early-60s pop.

Twistin'_the_Night_Away_(album)#13 – Sam Cooke – “Twistin’ The Night Away” – (1962)

Sam Cooke is one of the all-time greats. A phenomenal voice who died way too young (at age 33). This was a top ten hit in the U.S. and across the world. This song has a screaming sax and trumpet, recorded with some of the best session musicians available in 1962.

R-6630753-1423461946-5592.jpeg#14 – Tommy Roe – “Sheila” – (1962)

Tommy Roe got his first big hit in 1962, with this #1 hit. It sounds like something Buddy Holly would’ve done and is very teen pop sounding. He had another big hit in 1969 with another bubblegum pop song, but the thing is, most artists couldn’t make the transition from the pop-fueled early 60s to the more psychedelic late 60s. Tommy Roe did it.

hqdefault#15 – David Rose & His Orchestra – “The Stripper” – (1962)

As we go backward in time with these countdowns, this marks the first appearance of the words “and his orchestra” on a song’s artist. This is the norm in the 1940s and even somewhat into the 1950s, but kind of odd for a #1 hit from 1962. Then again, this song is called “The Stripper” – something probably more appropriate for the 60s than the 50s or 40s.

220px-Ppm#16 – Peter, Paul and Mary – “If I Had a Hammer” – (1962)

Folk music was alive and well in 1962. This song was originally recorded by Pete Seeger’s The Weavers in 1950. Peter, Paul & Mary rode this track into the top 10 on the Hot 100, winning two Grammys in the process. The song is confusing, because it talks about wanting a hammer but then, once a hammer is acquired, performing many acts where the hammer is completely superfluous and unnecessary.

600x600#17 – Gary U.S. Bonds – “Quarter to Three” – (1961)

Well this song was from the summer of ’61, but you get the point. This #1 hit was actually derived from an earlier, instrumental hit, called “A Night With Daddy G” by the Church Street Five (which Mr. Bonds calls out lyrically in this song). If this song sounds like it’s being played on a worn-out record, that’s because it was recorded with sub-par sound quality on purpose. If you listen closely, you’ll notice that this has a bit of a “Runaround Sue” vibe to it – which is because Dion wrote that song after hearing this one. Look for “Runaround Sue” in our 1961 countdown where it belongs.

BabyItsYouAlbum#18 – The Shirelles – “Soldier Boy” – (1962)

The Shirelles were an early girl group (founded in 1957) that made it huge just prior to Phil Spector arriving on scene and dominating the sub-genre of female pop groups. The pre-dated Motown as well. “Soldier Boy” was a #1 hit.

61riIKCEnDL._SY355_#19 – Rene Touzet – “Baby Elephant Walk” – (1962)

Why am I featuring Cuban bandleader Rene Touzet’s version of Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk?” Good question. I have no idea. Mancini wrote it in 1961 for use in the 1962 movie Hatari!, of which, I’ve never heard. It won Mancini a Grammy and is fairly recognizable across generations.

220px-Williams-Best.jpg#20 – Andy Williams – “The Bilbao Song” – (1961)

I had this one as from ’62 but it was actually released a year earlier (hey, we’re getting way before my time here). This was a top 40 hit for Andy Williams. While it has bits that are kind of dated (the female background singers singing some nonsense), it still has a good beat and catchy lyrics.

Quincy_Jones_-_Big_Band_Bossa_Nova#21 – Quincy Jones – “Soul Bossa Nova” – (1962)

Getting pretty far back, musically, at this point. Most everything from here on back is completely foreign to modern FM radio. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a big radio smash in its day, but probably made most famous by its inclusion as the theme for the Austin Powers films. It’s incredibly catchy.

Rod_Stewart_-_Blondes_Have_More_Fun_(album_cover)Rod Stewart – “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” – (1978)

This Billboard #1 hit from Rod Stewart incorporates strong disco themes – that is to say, a synth-heavy dance beat. Of all of Rod’s hits, this is among those that I can tolerate most. Strange fact, he donated the royalties from this song (about him asking someone if they think he is sexy) to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Interesting.

Ronettes#1 – The Ronettes – “Be My Baby” – (1963)

This song is the epitome of the Phil Spector sound that dominated the early 1960s. It’s one of the greatest songs of all time and was released as a single in the fall of 1963 (even through this ridiculously-titled album wasn’t released until the end of 1964). Spector’s process for creating this song influenced music for decades to come. It was the song that gave Brian Wilson the inspiration for pretty much everything he did after he heard it. And the stuff Brian Wilson was doing in the 1960s influenced pretty much everyone after him, including The Beatles, who themselves were, I guess, kind of influential.

220px-TheKingsmenInPerson#2 – The Kingsmen – “Louie Louie” – (1963)

This might be the earliest popular example of that dirty, garage rock sound. A cover of a cover, Portland-based The Kingsmen ran this version up the charts and it’s become a classic. It achieved controversy in its day because apparently the lyrics are naughty, but I’m not sure how anyone could tell because the singer basically slurs half the song. The Kingsmen split into two rival bands before this reached maximum fame and a long legal battle ensued. Wikipedia has a borderline hilarious entry on this song… it’s like someone is writing their senior thesis on it. It’s pretty weird.

IfYouWannaBeHappy45#3 – Jimmy Soul – “If You Wanna Be Happy” – (1963)

While I appreciate Jimmy Soul’s attempt at advice, it seems a little rude doesn’t it? There’s no rule that says ugly women can cook. I love the tempo of this song, especially considering it was 1963, just three years after Bert Kaempfert had a #1 hit. 

220px-The_Angels_LP#4 – The Angels – “My Boyfriend’s Back” – (1963)

This #1 hit was originally written for the Shirelles, but was released by the Angels instead, becoming their biggest hit and making them a one-hit wonder. It’s a good example of the early-60s girl group sound.

Ring_of_Fire_-_The_Best_of_Johnny_Cash#5 – Johnny Cash – “Ring of Fire” – (1963)

This has to be one of Johnny Cash’s signature songs, if not the signature song. It’s at least his most widely known. It’s one of his biggest hits, topping the country charts for seven weeks, something this is nigh impossible these days with country music turning over hits on a weekly basis. Gotta love any song with Mariachi-style horns!