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Top 100 Great Songs of 1969

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.

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.

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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 TitleSong 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 TitleSong 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 TitleSong 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 TitleSong 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 TitleSong 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

Comments

Liz Westwood from UK on April 10, 2020:

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