Top 100 Great Songs of 1969

Updated on May 26, 2020
Carson McQueen profile image

Carson suffers from a serious case of melophilia. Geeking out on her favorite music artists is her guilty pleasure.

1969 was an incredible year for the music industry. Read on to learn why.
1969 was an incredible year for the music industry. Read on to learn why. | Source

Since so many historic events happened in 1969, it's easy to forget that this year was also a turning point for the music industry. An argument can even be made that 1969 was the single best year for music in the 20th century. During this year, the Beatles played their final concert, the Woodstock festival reshaped the music industry (making large music festivals a part of American culture), and Jimi Hendrix formed his legendary Band of Gypsies.

It would be downright amazing if you could travel back in time and have the time of your life at the Woodstock festival. Imagine listening to all these music icons perform in a single weekend. But, since that isn't possible, the least you could do is check out this list of the top songs of 1969.

Best Songs of 1969

1. Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies

Fans of Archie raise your hands! Surely, you know this song if you watched the hit morning cartoon show back in 1969. When you first listen to the song, you wouldn't think that it was written with toddlers in mind. According to Andy Kim and Jeff Barry, the duo behind the lyrics, they wanted the song to appeal to children since they were the target audience of the show. This explains the famous line, "You are my candy girl."

2. "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" by The 5th Dimension

The rock opera Hair was revolutionary in many ways. This song was written for this opera specifically, but little did the songwriters know that it would become an anthem for the youth at that time. A lot of young adults grew their hair out and went to the streets to voice their protests against the government. "Dawning of the Age of Aquarius" refers to a new beginning as the Age of Pisces was nearing its end in the 1960s.

3. "I Can't Get Next to You" by The Temptations

This was one of the songs that defined rock and roll music in 1969. It had all the elements of a great rock song. The Temptations had a distinct way of singing their songs with unparalleled passion, making it easy for listeners to relate to what they were trying to convey. While some people would say that the song was about drugs, I think it was about unrequited love, a story of a person longing for someone who was out of his league.

4. "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones

Honky Tonk Women was one of the biggest hits of 1969. Its erotic theme raised eyebrows, but perhaps you'd agree that this song showcased the incredible storytelling ability of The Rolling Stones. The song was about a man's quest to move on from his past relationship by engaging in lustful escapades with "easy" women. Yet no matter what he did, he just couldn't rid his former lover from his mind.

5. "Everyday People" by Sly and the Family Stone

Without a doubt, Sly and the Family Stone was one of my favorite bands in the 1960s. The band consisted of members from different ethnic backgrounds, genders, and musical styles. Most likely, this fact played a role in the way they craft their songs. "Everyday People" talked about how each and every one of us is the same. The band wanted to put emphasis on equality, compelling listeners to respect everyone regardless of race or ethnic background.

I am no better and neither are you

We are the same whatever we do

You love me you hate me you know me and then

You can't figure out the bag I'm in

6. "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe

One of the reasons why this song became so popular in 1969 was the fact that pop songs with strings weren't all that common at the time. Of course, the lyrics were captivating as well. The song was about someone who struggled to approach the girl he liked. All the other guys wanted to make their move, but when his moment came, the girl kissed her. He was so overwhelmed that he felt dizzy after the kiss. I don't blame him, as first kisses are truly magical.

I'm so dizzy my head is spinning

Like a whirlpool, it never ends

And it's you, girl, making it spin

You're making me dizzy.

7. "Hot Fun in the Summertime" by Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone delivered a moving message once again with this song. While it may seem like a fun song about the joys of summer, it addresses a sadder and darker issue. Race riots were nothing out of the ordinary in 1969. This song's release was aptly timed. It was as if the band wanted to forget about the chaos that was happening and just go back to the happy days of yesteryear.

8. "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" by Tom Jones

Now here's a heartbreaker, and Tom Jones couldn't have done a better job at giving us a rollercoaster ride of emotions. The song was about a guy who loved a woman with all his heart but ended up getting cheated on. He was in denial at first, thinking that the accusations were lies until he caught the love of his life in another man's arms. It was so painful that he might never be able to love again.

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9. "Build Me Up Buttercup" by The Foundations

Certain songs make you want to turn the volume all the way up—and this song is one of them. I mean, who doesn't know this song? The feel-good music and relatable lyrics make "Build Me Up Buttercup" one of the best songs of 1969. It's a song that describes the way we feel when we want to be with somebody so much that we would drop everything we need to do just to be with the person. Yes, even if that person makes you wait again and again.

10. "Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James and the Shondells

Tommy James said in an interview that he came up with this title after getting up in bed one morning. These were his two favorite words, and he thought there was something poetic about them when put together. As for the theme of the song, I think it was about substance abuse. Subtle clues could be found all over the lyrics. This theme shouldn't be a surprise since drug use during the 1960s was reaching new heights.

Ah, now I don't hardly know her

But I think I could love her

Crimson and clover.

11. "One" by Three Dog Night

This turned out to be the most popular song by Three Dog Night. It's one of my favorites as well, mostly because of the message it delivers. "One" is a song about loneliness and the fact that you can experience it alone, with your partner, or with a group of people. I particularly find this line interesting: "No is the saddest experience you'll ever know." There's truth in that statement, as getting "no" for an answer often brings sorrow.

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12. "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James and the Shondells

This is the kind of song that can be interpreted in numerous ways. You could easily say that it's about love. Others would say that it talks about doing good to others to achieve peace and harmony. According to Tommy, however, the song was semi-religious, drawing inspiration from the Book of Revelation in the Bible, Chapter 19 to be exact. The song was meant to describe the image that John sees, the lake of crystal.

13. "Hair" by The Cowsills

Being the title song to the Hair musical, it was no surprise that this song became the most successful single by The Cowsills. What made it so memorable was the many funny lines throughout the song. There was even a part where the song switches to the tunes of "The Star-Spangled Banner" with the pun, "Oh say can you see/ My eyes if you can/Then my hair's too short!"

Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees

Give a home to the fleas in my hair

A home for fleas, a hive to bees, a nest for birds

There ain't no words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair

Flow it, show it, long as God can grow it, my hair.

14. "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" by Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye gave us one of the most romantic songs of 1969 with "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby." It doesn't take much to understand what the song was all about. Marvin simply didn't want to think about anything other than the girl of her dreams. He could care less about what money could buy, how flowers grew, and how long the weather would last. All he had time for was thinking about his baby.

15. "Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet" by Henry Mancini

This song stayed at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969 for two weeks. You probably know the love story of Romeo and Juliet, and that was a huge reason for this song's popularity. What's more impressive, however, is the fact that it competed against rock and roll songs from The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

Love is the past time that will never pull,

Sweeter than honey, bitter than gull,

Cupid he rules us all.

16. "Get Together" by The Youngbloods

Love and fear are the central themes of this song. I believe it has a lot to do with the fact that in 1969, fear and hatred were rapidly spreading, particularly toward communists. The song reminds us that when we successfully deal with both love and fear at the same time, we can achieve peace during the little time we have here on earth.

Source

17. "Grazing in the Grass" by The Friends of Distinction

"Grazing in the Grass" was actually an instrumental by Hugh Masekala, but Harry Elston decided to add lyrics to it. Can you guess what inspired him? Cows! During his time with Ray Charles' tour, Elston was looking out the window and he found serenity in what he saw: cows doing their thing in the grass. "These cows got it made" were his exact words. Owing to the song's massive success, the lines "can you dig it?" and "it's a gas" became popular sayings.

18. "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley

This list of the top songs of 1969 wouldn't be complete without including a single hit from The King, Elvis Presley. "Suspicious Minds" tells us the story of a guy who struggles to convince his love that he didn't do anything wrong. The girl was accusing him of things he never did, and they were on the verge of breaking up. Despite loving the girl so much, the guy knew things couldn't be this way forever and that their relationship had to end.

We can't go on together

With suspicious minds

And we can't build our dreams

On suspicious minds

19. "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Many people believed that John Fogerty drew from his personal experience when he wrote this song. He countered this by saying that he was thinking of a maid working for rich people when he came up with the lyrics. Also, he said that Proud Mary was actually the name of the boat in which his forefathers used to work as cooks, waiters, and stokers. When he was a kid, he promised to ride Proud Mary and write a song about it.

Big wheel keep on turnin'

Proud Mary keep on burnin'

Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river.

20. "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" by Jr. Walker & The All Stars

This was one of the most popular R&B songs of 1969. Interestingly, the song was written ten years before its release. Playing two saxophones in a song is pretty uncommon, even in today's standards. But it works flawlessly here. The saxophones offer a gloomy mood, accompanied by the bluesy voice of Junior Walker. I love the part where he says he's going to play the horn for his love, and then we hear the impeccable saxophone tunes.

More Songs of 1969

Song Title
Song Artist
21. "It's Your Thing"
The Isley Brothers
22. "Sweet Caroline"
Neil Diamond
23. "Jean"
Oliver
24. "Bad Moon Rising"
Creedence Clearwater Revival
25. "Get Back"
The Beatles with Billy Preston
26. "In the Year 2525"
Zager & Evans
27. "Spinning Wheel"
Blood, Sweat & Tears
28. "Baby, I Love You"
Andy Kim
29. "Going in Circles"
The Friends of Distinction
30. "Hurt So Bad"
The Lettermen
Song Title
Song Artist
31. "Green River"
Creedence Clearwater Revival
32. "My Cherie Amour"
Stevie Wonder
33. "Easy to Be Hard"
Three Dog Night
34. "Baby It's You"
Smith
35. "In the Ghetto"
Elvis Presley
36. "A Boy Named Sue"
Johnny Cash
37. "Baby, Baby Don't Cry"
The Miracles
38. "Only the Strong Survive"
Jerry Butler
39. "Time of the Season"
The Zoimbies
40. "Wedding Bell Blues"
The 5th Dimension
41. "Little Woman"
Bobby Sherman
42. "Love (Can Make You Happy)"
Mercy
43. "Good Morning Starshine"
Oliver
44. "These Eyes"
The Guess Who
45. "You've Made Me so Very Happy"
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Song Title
Song Artist
46. "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"
Jackie DeShannon
47. "Do Your Thing"
The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
48. "I'd Wait a Million Years"
The Grass Roots
49. "Touch Me"
The Doors
50. "More Today Than Yesterday"
Spiral Starecase
51. "I've Gotta Be Me"
Sammy Davis Jr.
52. "Lay Lady Lay"
Bob Dylan
53. "Atlantis"
Donovan
54. "Traces"
Classics IV
55. "It's Getting Better"
"Mama" Cass Elliot
56. "This Magic Moment"
Jay and the Americans
57. "Runaway Child, Running Wild"
The Temptations
58. "Hawaii Five-O"
The Ventures
59. "Galveston"
Glen Campbell
60. "I'm Gonna Make You Mine"
Lou Christie
Song Title
Song Artist
61. "Gitarzan"
Ray Stevens
62. "Can I Change My Mind"
Tyrone Davis
63. "Time Is Tight"
Booker T & the M.G.'s
64. "This Girl's in Love With You"
Dionne Warwick
65. "Color Him Father"
The Winstons
66. "Black Pearl"
Checkmates, Ltd.
67. "Indian Giver"
1910 Fruitgum Company
68. "Mother Popcorn"
James Brown
69. "Twenty-Five Miles"
Edwin Starr
70. "Things I'd Like to Say"
New Colony Six
71. "When I Die"
Motherlode
72. "That's the Way Love Is"
Marvin Gaye
73. "Everybody's Talkin'"
Harry Nilsson
74. "The Worst That Could Happen"
Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge
75. "The Chokin' Kind"
Joe Simon
Song Title
Song Artist
76. "Smile a Little Smile for Me"
The Flying Machine
77. "Polk Salad Annie"
Tony Joe White
78. "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town"
Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
79. "Games People Play"
Joe South
80. "You Showed Me"
The Turtles
81. "Tracy"
The Cuff Links
82. "Oh, What a Night"
The Dells
83. "Something"
The Beatles
84. "This Girl Is a Woman Now"
Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
85. "Come Together"
The Beatles
86. "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man"
Bob Seger System
87. "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"
The Supremes & The Temptations
88. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"
Marvin Gaye
89. "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'"
Crazy Elephant
90. "Hang 'Em High"
Booker T & the M.G.'s
91. "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)"
Lou Rawls
92. "Baby, I'm for Real"
The Originals
93. "Oh Happy Day"
Edwin Hawkins Singers
94. "Love Me Tonight"
Tom Jones
95. "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon"
Paul Revere & the Raiders
96. "Laughing"
The Guess Who
97. "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)"
David Ruffin
98. "Soul Deep"
The Box Tops
99. "Hooked on a Feeling"
B.J. Thomas
100. "Sweet Cream Ladies"
The Box Tops

Questions & Answers

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      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        7 weeks ago from UK

        It seems strange to think thst this was over 50 years ago. You have put together a good list.

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