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Songs of the Year

Songs of the Year: 60’s Retrospective




The story of the 60’s for me on Songs of the Year was my struggle to include variety. In all honesty it would’ve been easy for me to choose nothing but Beatles songs from the time they debuted. But I didn’t want to do that. I also didn’t want to limit my selections either, because I want the show to reflect the greatness of certain artists in their era. It wasn’t only The Beatles either. 18 artists had multiple nominations, accounting for 68 of my 100 picks. 

For the most part, I didn’t have to contend to much with the separation of the Hot 100 list and the Wildcards. The Billboard was so strong in the decade that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on great songs and the songs on my Hot 100 lists were songs that I would have wanted to include anyway. I would imagine this will start to change in the 70’s. 

Most Nominated

The Beatles: 21
The Beach Boys: 9
Bob Dylan: 5
Buck Owens: 5

Artists with two nominations

Etta James
Elvis Presley
Roy Orbison
Patsy Cline
The Crystals
Sam Cooke
Otis Redding
Harry Nilsson
The Band
The Hollies
The Turtles
The Bee Gees
The Guess Who

Overall, 50 different artists were nominated

1966: God Only Knows – Beach Boys
1967: Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles
1963: Be My Baby – The Ronettes
1965: Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
1961: Run Away – Del Shannon
1964: The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Bob Dylan
1962: He’s a Rebel – The Crystals
1968: Happiness Is a Warm Gun – The Beatles
1969: That’s the Way God Planned It – Billy Preston
1960: At Last – Etta James


Ahhhh, the 1960s.  The coolest thing about these ten years is the unbelievable juxtaposition of where the popular music scene was at the beginning and end. There is not another decade in modern history that changed so much in such little time. Let’s be honest…we have drugs to thank for that and the creativity it spurred.

I am terrified of the 70s competition, but I am generally pleased with how the statistics of my choices in the 60s lined up with my general taste.  The scoreboard almost perfectly ranks my preference among the major artists, with the exception being the lack of representation of a little band called The Who, who in fact have my favorite album of the decade. 

Pleasantly, some finds such as Brenda Lee and Connie Francis rising to the top of my charts in the earlier part of the decade resulted in some nice deeper enjoyment and a greater appreciation of the two. And I would say that among the three of us, there are very few all time great songs that were not represented.

Most Nominated

Bob Dylan: 12
Rolling Stones: 10
The Beach Boys: 10
The Beatles: 8
Jimi Hendrix: 5
Ben E. King/ The Drifters: 4
Brenda Lee: 3

Artists with two nominations

The Who
The Band
Simon and Garfunkel
Connie Francis
Sam Cooke
The Shirelles

Overall, 48 different artists were nominated


1966: God Only Knows by The Beach Boys
1967: Ruby Tuesday by Rolling Stones
1969: Girl From the North Country by Bob Dylan
1960: This Magic Moment by Ben E King/ The Drifters
1964: Don’t Worry Baby by The Beach Boys
1965: She Belongs to Me by Bob Dylan
1961: Stand By Me by Ben E King
1968: Tears of Rage by The Band
1963: Twist and Shout by The Beatles
1962: Boom Boom by John Lee Hooker


There will never be another decade filled with revolutionary singles like the 60s were. It was heartbreaking leaving off some of my favorite tracks of all-time due to our capricious and arbitrary rules of only including 10 per year. For the most part, there was no problem with the split between Billboard hits and personal favorites. Most of the great tracks of the decade just happened to chart–kudos to anyone listening and buying music in the 1960s.

My most nominated seems to be pretty accurate. No one was more consistent than the Beatles in the 1960s. But as far as all-timers, nobody beats the Beach Boys, who won three separate years. Underrepresented artists have to include The Who, who were only nominated twice, The Byrds (also two), and the Rolling Stones, who did fine with four nominations, but probably underperformed compared to how many great songs they put out. I’m surprised to see Sam Cooke in the most nominated list, since I think I disparaged him at some point. But I was wrong to do so. He definitely got the last laugh on this one. One fun note, Etta James had the most nominations in a single year with three in 1960. Only the Beach Boys, Stones, Dion and Beatles had more than one in the same year.

Most Nominated

Beatles: 10
Beach Boys: 8
Marvin Gaye: 5
Jimi Hendrix: 4
Rolling Stones: 4
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: 4
Sam Cooke: 3
Zombies: 3
Etta James: 3

Artists with two nominations

The Who
Bob Dylan
The Byrds
The Four Tops
Ray Charles
Brenda Lee
Roy Orbison
The Crystals

Overall, 54 artists were nominated

Ranking the Winners

1966: God Only Knows by The Beach Boys
1968: Wichita Lineman by Glenn Campbell
1969: Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones
1964: Don’t Worry Baby by The Beach Boys
1967: Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
1965: In My Life by the Beatles
1960: Georgia on my Mind by Ray Charles
1963: Surfer Girl by The Beach Boys
1962: Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs
1961: Shop Around by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles

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