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The 50 Top Songs of the 1960s

Chelsea Emerick

Top Songs of the 1960s: The 60s Greatest Hits

Counting Down the Greatest Hits of the 60s

Launching into a new world, the 60s not only saw the first man on the moon but a series of waves that implored musicians to question the ways of the world. From this questioning, came the magic of psychedelic rock, sweet soul, progressive folk, and more. The cultural clash of old and new philosophies created a music scene in an explosive decade that informed so many genres that we celebrate today.

In this Top 50 Songs of the 1960s article, I cover the decade’s greatest songs, taking into consideration a few key ranking factors:

  1. The song’s power in capturing the culture of the 1960s.
  2. Its impact on the music industry.
  3. The song’s ability to move people since its release.

As you can imagine, ranking the greatest songs of the 1960s was a hefty task. Compiling a collection of tracks that capture a well-rounded view of the 60s means looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of history. The one resounding quality each one of these top 1960s songs has is that they stand proudly on their own as songs that have affected the listeners. That’s what all we’re looking for from a music list like this, a collection of tracks that remind us of the power musicians have in uplifting us, feeling things with us, and making us want to dance.

Without further adieu, here’s my list of the Top 50 Songs of the 1960s:

50) Stand By Your Man – Tammy Wynette (1969)

50. Tammy Wynette - Stand By Your Man - Greatest Songs of the 1960s
“And if you love him, oh, be proud of him, ‘cause after all, he’s just a man.”

Why it’s the 50th Greatest song of the 60s

Upon first impressions, the title track of Stand By Your Man (1969) was a controversial release for Tammy Wynette. At the peak of second-wave feminism, this bright country track broke into the pop charts and caused a stir amongst free-thinking modern women. Regardless of interpretation, this track’s undeniable swell of emotion and artistry holds strong.

49) Catch the Wind – Donovan (1965)

49. Donovan - Catch the Wind - Top 1960s Songs
“When the rain has hung the leaves with tears, I want you near to kill my fears.”

Why it’s the 49th Top song of the 60s

Released at just 19 years old, Donovan’s first album What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid (1965) spared no feelings with the single “Catch The Wind.” This sweet ballad displays deep vulnerability and passion, sewn together so carefully with delicate folk instrumentals. Inspiring artists to come, this track has been covered by the likes of Cher and Eartha Kitt.

48) Knock on Wood – Eddie Floyd (1966)

48. Eddie Floyd - Knock on Wood Top Songs of the 1960's
“Got me spinning, baby, baby, I’m in a trance.”

Why it’s the 48th Greatest hit of the 60s

Striking swiftly with a bold and brassy intro, the title track to his debut album Knock on Wood (1966) launched Eddie Floyd’s career as a soul king. The harmony in the pre-chorus grabs the listener’s attention and demands they boogie. Inspiring a disco cover from Amii Stewart and the attention of Count Basie and David Bowie, there is no doubt that this track has earned a spot on this list!

47) I Feel Free – Cream (1966)

47. Cream - I Feel Free Best 1960s Songs
“You’re the sun and as you shine on me I feel free.”

Why it’s the 47th Greatest song of the 60s

Making a memorable impression with their acapella introduction, “I Feel Free is” the 1966 single from Cream that floats along the border of psychedelic pop and rock. A surefire 60s sound, this song plays on Eric Clapton’s guitar riffs and Jack Bruce’s striking vocals to create an iconic journey. Polishing their eccentric single off is Ginger Baker’s cheeky drumming, making this track a gem.

46) These Days – Nico (1967)

46. Nico - These Days - Top 1960s Songs
“I had a lover, I don’t think I’ll risk another.”

Why it’s the 46th Top song of the 60s

Looming from a cloud of melancholy, “These Days” from the debut solo album Chelsea Girl (1967) by Nico sets a pensive and intricate mood. With delicate fingerpicking and swelling instrumentals, this avant-garde track flew under the radar until the early 2000s when writer Jackson Browne licensed the track for use in Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). Whether you’re a hardcore Nico fan from the Warhol days or just an indie movie buff, there is no denying that this track is a unique sound that exemplified chamber folk.

45) Friday on my Mind – The Easybeats (1966)

45. The Easybeats - Friday on my Mind - Top Songs of the 1960s
“Do my five-day grind once more, I know nothin’ else that bugs more than workin’ for the rich man.”

Why it’s the 45th Greatest hit of the 60s

The Easybeats know the struggles of the 9-5, which is why “Friday On My Mind” from the album Good Friday (1966) was an instant hit. The Australian band’s clever use of minor to major key shifts and vibrant guitar riffs made a stark comparison between the weekend chorus and weekday verses. This joyous track celebrates the freedom of a Friday afternoon and (unfortunately) still relates to the 2020s!

44) The Letter – The Box Tops (1967)

44. The Box Tops - The Letter - Best 1960s Songs
“I don’t care how much money I gotta spend, got to get back to my baby again.”

Why it’s the 44th Greatest song of the 60s

Debuting Alex Chilton’s scratchy vocals, “The Letter” is the A-side to The Letter/Neon Rainbow (1967) that put The Box Tops on the map. Charmingly swinging in the odd trumpet, violin, and keyboard, this track’s percussion holds an urgent pace that plays into the narrative and strings it all together. The song’s popularity even inspired an early Joe Cocker to create his popular cover.

43) The Twist – Chubby Checker (1960)

43. Chubby Checker - The Twist - Top 1960s Songs

Why it’s the 43rd Top song of the 60s

Covering Hank Ballard and the Midnighters 1958 track “The Twist,” Chubby Checker’s very own “twist” created a whole new lease of life for the song. Using his signature sound and explosive sax gave the original a new and vibrant lift. The Twist with Chubby Checker (1960) set in motion a dance craze across the US and is still noted as one of the most iconic songs of the 60s.

42) Rescue Me – Fontella Bass (1966)

42. Frontella Bass - Rescue Me - Top Songs of the 1960s
“Come and take my heart, take your love and conquer every part.”

Why it’s the 42nd Greatest hit of the 60s

Fontella Bass’ track “Rescue Me,” from the album The New Look (1966), bounces. Seriously, between the brass and the iconic bass riff, this track holds that sweet spot of deep lyrics and levity, making it a fantastic example of 60s R&B. Even the “mmm”s hummed throughout the final chorus keep an uplifting and powerful pace to the song.

41) You Never Can Tell – Chuck Berry (1964)

41. Chuck Berry - You Never Can Tell - Top 1960s Songs
“‘C’est la vie’ say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell.”

Why it’s the 41st Greatest song of the 60s

Leading with an iconic piano melody, Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” follows the story of a young married couple in New Orleans. From the album St Louis to Liverpool (1964), the track shines as a classic Rock’n’Roll ballad. It even caught Quentin Tarantino’s attention, using it in his 1994 hit Pulp Fiction.

40) I Got You Babe – Sonny & Cher (1965)

40. Sonny & Cher - I Got You Babe - Top Songs of the 1960s
“And when I’m sad, you’re a clown, and when I get scared you’re always around.”

Why it’s the 40th Top song of the 60s

A humble beginning for soon-to-be superstar Cher, “I Got You Babe,” from the album Look at Us (1965), quickly became an iconic track for Sonny & Cher. Skyrocketing international charts, the song’s conversational format, and folk-rock style create sweet chemistry. The instrumental build-up powers the track’s end, even throwing in an oboe to amplify a strong 60s sound.

39) Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag – James Brown (1965)

39. James Brown - Papas Got A Brand New Bag - Best 1960s Songs
“He’s doing the Monkey, the Mashed Potatoes, Jump back Jack, See you later alligator.”

Why it’s the 39th Greatest hit of the 60s

Introducing James Brown Plays James Brown Today & Yesterday (1965) is “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” and does it make a brilliant impression! Bright horns and that famous guitar riff scream for attention in this funk track that tells the story of an old man hitting up a nightclub and busting out some iconic moves. James Brown’s exceptional talent for sound gained great commercial success, making this song a staple to movie soundtracks, advertisements, and television shows.

38) Wild Thing – The Troggs (1966)

38. The Troggs - Wild Thing - Top 1960s Songs
“You make everything groovy.”

Why it’s the 38th Greatest song of the 60s

How many chart-topping bands can say they’ve successfully had an ocarina solo in their top songs? As oddly specific as that may sound, The Troggs sure can speak to that success with their track “Wild Thing” from the album From Nowhere (1966). This scrappy garage rock track has a cool raunchy sound that made the band stand out as mid-60s rockers.

37) I Just Want To Make Love To You – Etta James (1960)

37. Etta James - I Just Want To Make Love To You
“All I want to do is bake your bread, just to make sure that you’re well-fed.”

Why it’s the 37th Top song of the 60s

From her hit record At Last! (1960) Etta James seduces the audience with her cover of Muddy Waters’ “I Just Want To Make Love To You” (formerly Just Make Love To Me). This sultry track is a faster tempo than the original and holds stronger pop influences. Sharp and expressive, this song captures her shift from doo-wop to jazz and blues.

36) Everybody’s Talkin’ – Harry Nilsson (1968)

36. Harry Nilsson - Everybody's Talkin' - Top Songs of the 1960s
“I’m going where the sun keeps shining, through the pouring rain, going where the weather suits my clothes.”

Why it’s the 36th Greatest hit of the 60s

Fingerpicking one of the most famous folk-rock intros is Harry Nilsson’s track “Everybody’s Talkin’.” This gentle track creates intrigue with the strings and a quiet reassurance in longing for something better. Whilst originally released on his album Aerial Ballet (1968) the track found its way to commercial success in the Midnight Cowboy Soundtrack.

35) A Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum (1967)

35. Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale - Top 1960s Songs
“As the ceiling flew away when we called out for another drink, the waiter brought a tray.”

Why it’s the 35th Greatest song of the 60s

Released as a single in 1967, Procol Harum’s track “A Whiter Shade of Pale” transcended modern rock. As if creating a spiritual awakening in the audience, this song’s deep roots in classical music and its bending narrative created an unusual track that unexpectedly took off. Due to the song’s surge in popularity, it quickly established itself as an iconic anthem of the 1960s.

34) Daydream Believer – The Monkees (1967)

34. The Monkees - Daydream Believer - Top Songs of the 1960s
“You once thought of me as a white knight on his steed, now you know how happy I can be.”

Why it’s the 34th Top song of the 60s

The Monkees casual introduction to “Daydream Believer” is fitting given the song’s story of daydreaming a suburban life away. From the album The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees (1967) this song uplifts listeners from their mundane reality with a pop beat and cheering chorus.

33) A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke (1964)

33. Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come - Best 1960s Songs
“It’s been too hard living but I’m afraid to die, ‘cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky.”

Why it’s the 33rd Greatest hit of the 60s

Heavy with the sorrow of inequality, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” is a weighty track that has been held in high regard as an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement. Leading with swelling instrumentals and a deep soul sound, the song tells of Cooke’s first-hand experience with racism in the south. Released on the album Ain’t That Good News (1964), the song is a profound example of exceptional composition and poignant social commentary.

32) Hold On, I’m Comin’ – Sam & Dave (1966)

32. Sam & Dave - Hold On, I'm Comin' - Top 1960s Songs
“Now don’t you ever feel sad, lean on me when the times are bad.”

Why it’s the 32nd Greatest song of the 60s

Featuring the masterful instrumentals of Booker T & the M.G.s alongside the Mar-Keys Horns, it’s safe to say Sam & Dave’s title track to Hold On, I’m Comin’ (1966) packs a punch. Capturing that 60s big band sound, the track builds a funky melody that you can’t help but bop along to. As the band sings back and forth to a strong soul sound there is an undeniable joy that comes from this track.

31) Dancing In The Streets – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas (1964)

31. Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Dancing In The Streets - Top Songs of the 1960s
“It’s an invitation, across the nation, a chance for folks to meet.”

Why it’s the 31st Top song of the 60s

One of Motown’s most notable songs, “Dancing In The Streets” was released as a single by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas in 1964. Written by Marvin Gaye, the track’s quick success garnered the status of a soul party anthem. Following its success, came a myriad of covers from The Mamas & Papas to The Rolling Stones.

30) My Generation – The Who (1965)

30. The Who - My Generation - Best 1960s Songs
“I hope I die before I get old.”

Why it’s the 30th Greatest hit of the 60s

Scratchy and restless, the title track to The Who’s “My Generation” (1965) is one of the most recognizable rock songs of the 1960s. Lead singer Roger Daltrey’s stutter commands the listener’s attention and pushes boundaries, building an aggravation that is infectious. The Who’s pivotal place in Rock’n’Roll was cemented with the release of this track.

29) Green Onions – Booker T. & The M.G.’s (1962)

29. Booker T. & The M.G.’s - Green Onions

Why it’s the 29th Greatest song of the 60s

The only instrumental track in this list, “Green Onions” has made a name for itself since its release in 1962. In what sounds like an impromptu jam session, the track builds into a fantastic fusion of keyboard, bass, and a peppery guitar riff. Capturing a classic soul sound true to the 60s, this song has become a staple in midcentury instrumentals.

28) Time of the Season – The Zombies (1968)

28. The Zombies - Time of the Season - Top 1960s Songs
“What’s your name? Who’s your daddy? Is he rich like me?”

Why it’s the 28th Top song of the 60s

Sliding into this spot is The Zombies with their smooth psychedelic track “Time of The Season” (1968). Despite the track’s lacking reception on the band’s home turf of the UK; American, Canadian, and South African audiences immediately fell for the bassline and keyboard solo that made this song stand out. Capturing an effortless level of cool, this song, which has been covered by the likes of the Dave Matthews Band, and the Guess Who, has become a representative of the 60s in modern media.

27) The Weight – The Band (1968)

27. The Band - The Weight - Top Songs of the 1960s
“Catch a cannonball now to take me down the line.”

Why it’s the 27th Greatest hit of the 60s

Slipped in at the fifth spot of Music from Big Pink (1968), “The Weight” meanders along carrying a vivid story for the listener. The Band’s track grew quietly in popularity upon release, despite the slow burn to discovery the clear southern influence and roots sound makes this track feel like a familiar journey. With bright imagery and an iconic voice, this track, which also appears on The Last Waltz, holds up as an influential contributor to country music’s growth.

26) Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash (1963)

26. Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire - Best 1960s Songs
“Bound by wild desire, I fell into a ring of fire.”

Why it’s the 26th Greatest song of the 60s

Written by June Carter, “Ring of Fire” quickly spread to be one of Johnny Cash’s most famous songs. Featuring an introduction fit for a mariachi band, the track delves into the burn of falling in love. From the album Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash (1963), this iconic song has become a staple in any Johnny Cash crash course.

25) (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher – Jackie Wilson (1967)

25. Jackie Wilson - Higher - Top 1960s Songs
“Listen, now once I was downhearted, disappointment was my closest friend.”

Why it’s the 25th Top song of the 60s

Topping the R&B charts in 1967, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher” is one of Jackie Wilson’s best-known songs. The superb soul sound combined with joyous lyrics makes for an infectiously upbeat track. Polishing it all off with an iconic brass riff, there’s no surprise why the album Higher and Higher (1967) was so successful.

24) You Really Got Me – The Kinks (1964)

24. The Kinks - You Really Got Me - Top Songs of the 1960s
“Girl, you really got me now, you got me so I can’t sleep at night.”

Why it’s the 24th Greatest hit of the 60s

Scrappy and loud, “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks made waves in 60s Rock. Released as a single in 1964, the track paved the way for garage and hard rock during the early British Invasion. From gruff solos to playful screams, lead singer Ray Davies launched the band’s future as rockstars.

23) I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown (1966)

23. James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good) - Best 1960s Songs
“Woah! I feel nice, like sugar and spice!”

Why it’s the 23rd Greatest song of the 60s

Screaming his way into the charts is James Brown with his title track I Got You (I Feel Good) (1966). With a big band sound, iconic vocals, and smooth soul, even complete 60s music novices know this track. As popular today as it was upon its release, this fabulous track caused the only artist to double up on this list!

22) Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan (1965)

22. Bob Dylan - Like A Rolling Stone - Top 1960s Songs
“Nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street and now you’re gonna have to get used to it.”

Why it’s the 22nd Top song of the 60s

Creating a blazing introduction to the album Highway 61 Revisited (1965), Bob Dylan’s track “Like A Rolling Stone” was the first of its kind in the folk-rock industry. Tangling his magic of witty lyrics and fantastic imagery, this track makes clever social commentary on America at the time with layered folk instrumentals as backing.

21) Happy Together – The Turtles (1967)

21. The Turtles - Happy Together - Top Songs of the 1960s
“Me and you and you and me. No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be.”

Why it’s the 21st Greatest hit of the 60s

Possibly the grooviest track on the list (so far!) is The Turtle’s title track Happy Together (1967). This psychedelic pop song celebrates unrequited love with the flare of an orchestra, giving it a stunning fanfare vibe. Upbeat, playful, and unforgettable, this song has become a huge commercial success thanks to its clever composition.

20) Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield (1969)

20. Dusty Springfield - Son of a Preacher Man - Best 1960s Songs
“Being good isn’t always easy, no matter how hard I try.”

Why it’s the 20th Greatest song of the 60s

Capturing a Memphis soul sound through a UK artist sounds like an interesting combination, but it worked well for Dusty Springfield. “Son of a Preacher Man” from the album Dusty in Memphis (1969) was the most popular track on the album. Telling the story of sneaking off with the preacher’s son, this song’s gradual build captures a vibrant addition to blue-eyed soul.

19) For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield (1966)

19. Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth - Top 1960s Songs
“There’s battle lines being drawn, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”

Why it’s the 19th Top song of the 60s

Known best as a protest anthem, “For What It’s Worth (Stop Hey What’s That Sound)” rose to fame during civil rights movements of the 60s, famously due to the Sunset Strip Curfew riots. This folk-rock track by Buffalo Springfield was released on the album Buffalo Springfield (1966) and was immediately embraced by the counterculture movement. Since then, the track has been highly regarded as culturally significant to the 60s and highly praised.

18) Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley (1969)

18. Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds - Top Songs of the 1960s
“Here we go again, asking where I’ve been. You can’t see the tears are real, I’m crying.”

Why it’s the 18th Greatest hit of the 60s

The last track to hit #1 on the charts during his lifetime, “Suspicious Minds” is a staple soul-rock track in Elvis Presley’s legacy. Released as a single in 1969 then later added to the tracklisting of From Elvis in Memphis (1969), this song carries unique elements like the fade-out that quickly fades back into the final verse. Cooing at the signs of an unhealthy relationship and balancing on variations in tempo, this song holds true to The King’s longstanding love-song repertoire.

17) Feelin’ Good – Nina Simone (1965)

17. Nina Simone - Feelin' Good - Best 1960s Songs
“Oh freedom is mine and I know how I feel.”

Why it’s the 17th Greatest song of the 60s

From the album, I Put A Spell on You (1965), Nina Simone’s powerful track “Feelin’ Good” created a wave of covers from all kinds of musicians. The lofty jazz track has not only shone as a commercial success but held strong as an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement. From Muse to John Coltrane, covers of this track have swept across the world in the 60 years since the song’s initial release.

16) Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane (1967)

16. Jefferson Airplane - Somebody to Love - Top 1960s Songs
“When the garden flowers baby are dead, yes and your mind, your mind is so full of red.”

Why it’s the 16th Top song of the 60s

Surrealistic Pillow (1967) by Jefferson Airplane is home to a handful of phenomenal tracks, but “Somebody to Love” shines through in particular. Kicking off with a distinct rock sound, lead singer Grace Slick smacks audiences with gut-punching vocals. Regarded as a psychedelic rock and counterculture classic, this song holds up even in the 2020s.

15) What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong (1967)

15. Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World - Top Songs of the 1960s
“I hear babies cry, I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know.”

Why it’s the 15th Greatest hit of the 60s

Regardless of whether you’re a jazz fan, chances are you’ve heard Louis Armstrong’s award-winning single What A Wonderful World (1967). This infamous song goes beyond just a notable 60s track, it is a work of art. From careful composition to signature gravelly vocals, this song stands as a pivotal point for jazz and pop.

14) My Girl – The Temptations (1965)

14. The Temptations - My Girl - Best 1960s Songs
“I’ve got so much honey the bees envy me.”

Why it’s the 14th Greatest song of the 60s

Arguably one of the most well-known soul songs from the 1960s, “My Girl” by The Temptations leads with that iconic first lyric, “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.” Written by Smokey Robinson, the track was an instant success and the band’s very first #1 song on the charts. Nestled on the first side of The Temptations Sing Smokey (1965), this sweet track’s sunny outlook is infectious.

13) Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf (1968)

13. Steppenwolf - Born To Be Wild - Top 1960s Songs
“I like smoke and lightnin’, heavy metal thunder, racing with the wind and the feeling that I’m under.”

Why it’s the 13th Top song of the 60s

Pioneering hard rock with their track “Born To Be Wild,” Steppenwolf took the world by storm with their explosive riffs and gruff sound. Fueled by a drive for adrenaline, this track grew to fame in representing biker culture and attitude. From their wild and free album Steppenwolf (1968), this track sparked a big shift in rock’n’roll.

12) Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys (1966)

12. The Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice - Top Songs of the 1960s“You know it seems the more we talk about it, it only makes it worse to live without it.”

Why it’s the 12th Greatest hit of the 60s

The Beach Boys’ usual lighthearted songs aren’t an equal comparison to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” from the album Pet Sounds (1966). Known for their sweet and charming style, this track explores the longing of a young couple to be married. Playfully composed and using tempo to their advantage to create impactful verses, this song’s bright orchestral sound makes it a fun and lovable track that is impossible to get out of your head.

11) Respect – Aretha Franklin (1967)

11. Aretha Franklin - Respect - Best 1960s Songs
“Ooo, your kisses sweeter than honey, and guess what? So is my money.”

Why it’s the 11th Greatest song of the 60s

Possibly one of the most famous covers of all time, Aretha Franklin’s track “Respect” turned Otis Redding’s original into a feminist anthem by cleverly flipping the gender of the lyrics. The song empowered female audiences and became the top-selling single from the album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967). Aside from teaching younger generations how to spell “respect,” this track launched Aretha Franklin into stardom.

10) California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas (1966)

10. The Mamas & The Papas - California Dreamin' - Top 1960s Songs
“I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.”

Why it’s the 10th Top song of the 60s

Written by John and Michelle Phillips whilst missing their sunny home state of California during a New York winter, “California Dreamin’” captures a distinctive 60s folk-rock image. One of The Mamas and Papas most notable songs, the track has a sunny sound reminiscent of hippie culture. If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966) introduced the band to audiences as a cool and far-out band that simply craved their roots.

9) Stand By Me – Ben E. King (1961)

9. Ben E. King - Stand By Me - Top Songs of the 1960s
“Oh, I won’t be afraid, just as long as you stand by me.”

Why it’s the 9th Greatest hit of the 60s

Ben E. King’s track “Stand By Me” is a highly regarded classic soul song. Initially released as a single, then later released on Don’t Play That Song! (1962), the track’s perfectly timed instrumentals and crooned vocals create an infectious melody. The song’s popularity already stood for itself, but further grew when the 1986 film of the same name featured the song on the soundtrack.

8) Space Oddity – David Bowie (1969)

8. David Bowie - Space Oddity - Best 1960s Songs
“This is Major Tom to Ground Control, I’m stepping through the door and I’m floating in the most peculiar way, and the stars look very different today.”

Why it’s the 8th Greatest song of the 60s

Notably one of David Bowie’s most iconic songs, “Space Oddity” from the album David Bowie (1969) was a cosmic wonder. Following commercial failure from his debut album, the track launched success for Bowie due to its release in conjunction with the Apollo 11 moon landing. From that uplifting composition that gives a feeling of weightlessness, to the clear path that formed Ziggy Stardust, this track undoubtedly captured David Bowie’s vibrant imagery and a creative knack for songwriting.

7) I Can’t Get No Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones (1965)

7. The Rolling Stones - I Can't Get No Satisfaction - Top 1960s Songs
“Can’t you see I’m on a losing streak?”

Why it’s the 7th Top song of the 60s

Who else rocked the 1960s like The Rolling Stones? With Keith Richard’s gritty opening guitar riff and Mick Jagger’s provoking vocals, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” quickly became one of the band’s hottest tracks of the decade. From the album Out of Our Heads (1965), this classic rock’n’roll song pokes fun at little ironies that we all observe.

6) Come Together – The Beatles

6. The Beatles - Come Together - Top Songs of the 1960s
“Got to be good looking ‘cause he’s so hard to see.”

Why it’s the 6th Greatest hit of the 60s

Full of wit and wiles, The Beatles pop into number six with their slick track “Come Together.” From the award-winning album Abbey Road (1969), this song combines surreal lyrics and strong ties to counterculture, creating an empowering and eccentric statement about connection. Regardless of their legacy, there is no doubt that this track stands out as a distinct sound that can only come from The Beatles.

5) All Along the Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)

5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - All Along the Watchtower - Best 1960s Songs
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.”

Why it’s the 5th Greatest song of the 60s

Capturing the true sound of 60s rock is The Jimi Hendrix Experience with their cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Released on the album Electric Ladyland (1968), this track explodes with passion and intricate guitar solos. The song was such a success upon its release that even Bob Dylan himself prefers to sing the track in the same format as this cover.

4) Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison (1967)

4. Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl - Top 1960s Songs
“Standing in the sunlight laughing, hiding ‘hind a rainbow’s wall, slipping and sliding all along the waterfall with you.”

Why it’s the 4th Top song of the 60s

Considered a staple in “oldies” rock stations, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison is not a track to overlook. This sweet track captures a summer love that goes beyond just the summer of its release on the album Blowin’ Your Mind! (1967). The narrative of this track and the infectious “sha-la-la-la” makes this song a timeless 60s folk-rock staple.

3) House of the Rising Sun – The Animals (1964)

3. The Animals - House of the Rising Sun - Top Songs of the 1960s
“My mother was a tailor, she sewed my new blue jeans. My father was a gamblin’ man, down in New Orleans.”

Why it’s the 3rd Greatest hit of the 60s

Opening with that iconic fingerpicking and the ominous line “there is a house in New Orleans,” is one hell of a way to make an introduction, but The Animals do it so well. This howling version of the historic folksong builds to an iconic foundation of rock music. With the instrumentals that harrowingly support Eric Burdon’s crackling vocals, this “House of the Rising Sun” explodes with story and passion.

2) Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)

2. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son - Best 1960s Songs
“Some folks are born silver spoon in hand, Lord, don’t they help themselves!”

Why it’s the 2nd Best song of the 60s

Coming in so close to the number one spot is Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic “Fortunate Son.” Speaking out against the Vietnam War, this track exemplifies rock as a form of protest. This song’s popularity continues to grow, since its release on Willy and the Poor Boys (1969) the track has become a commercial success seeing use from Forrest Gump to Battlefield. The song has also been covered by numerous artists including Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Santana, Bob Seger, and The Dropkick Murphys.

1) Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1967)

1. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Best 1960s Songs
“If you ever need a helping hand, I’ll be there on the double just as fast as I can.”

Why it’s the Greatest song of the 60s

As far as iconic soul tracks go, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is stiff competition. The single by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell launched their success with Motown and featured on the album United (1967). This uplifting track exemplifies the 60s vibrance and growth in the music industry, focusing on composition and artistic expression.

What are Your Top 1960s Songs?

Now that you’ve gone through my list of the top songs of the 60s, we want to hear from you! Are there any songs rated too high or too low? Any 1960s greatest hits that didn’t make the list? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Chelsea Emerick

Chelsea Emerick

Chelsea Emerick is a Florida-based Australian and contributor for Her upbringing around 60s and 70s rock has developed a passion for pop-punk and indie. In her free time, Chelsea enjoys thrifting and painting.

11 replies on “The 50 Top Songs of the 1960s”

I know I’m very partial to the Beatles but “All You Need Is Love” was certainly an historic broadcast, especially since it was broadcast live around the world ! No complaints though. All your selections are great songs bringing back many fond memories of my childhood.

So true! First real satellite broadcast (Telstar?), with many notables such as Jagger looking up at Lennon in awe.
What a song for the times, an absolute pivotal moment in music and broadcasting and I was there watching!
Nothing of that magnitude has happened since.

No Doors? Wow! I honestly think Come Together should be in the top 5. Best Beatles song IMHO. No Led Zeppelin? Best hard rock band of all time. Communication Breakdown? Come on…

As usual with these lists, it’s one person’s opinion. Why get upset at that if she has different taste than you? I too would probably add 50 and take 50 away from this list, but again, that’s just my personal preference.

This list is crap for the most part. She missed out on many songs and her number one, its good but it shouldn’t be a number one on this list.

The Kinks – You Really Got Me is sooooo nice also. I was born in the 60s but the songs in those years were ultimately the best. Heartbreakers the lot.

The Kinks – You Really Got Me is sooooo nice also. I was born in the 60s but the songs in those years were ultimately the best. Heartbreakers the lot. Bring back the sixties music 🎵 PLEASE

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