10 Best Love Songs From the '60s
I have included many different styles of music in this list of '60s love songs. These are some of my favorite love songs from that era. The songs are arranged in chronological order. The numbers are not rankings.
Best Love Songs From the '60s
"At Last"—Etta James (1960)
"Will Still Love You me Tomorrow"—The Shirelles (1960)
"I Can't Stop Loving You"—Ray Charles (1962)
"In My Life"—The Beatles (1965)
"Stop in the Name of Love'"—The Supremes (1965)
'When a Man Loves a Woman'"—Percy Sledge (1966)
"The Look of Love"—Dusty Springfield (1967)
"Dedicated To The One I Love'"—Mamas & Papas (1967)
"Hello I Love You"—The Doors (1968)
"Something'"—The Beatles (1969)
1. "At Last"—Etta James (1960)
“At Last,” was originally written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the 1941 movie musical, Sun Valley Serenade. Glenn Miller and his orchestra recorded several versions of the tune, with one recorded in 1942 reaching number nine on the singles chart.
In 1960, Etta James recorded an arrangement by Riley Hampton. James' version was the title track on her 1960 debut album At Last! It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
2. "Will Still Love You Me Tomorrow"—The Shirelles (1960)
Written by the songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," was originally recorded by The Shirelles in 1960. They had a number one hit with it, a first for a black all-girl group. It has been covered by many artists, including a 1971 version by Carole King herself.
Lead singer, Shirley Owens, did not like the song at first, saying it was "too country." Owens later recalled that when the song was first released, some radio stations refused to play it because the lyrics were too sexually suggestive.
3. "I Can't Stop Loving You"—Ray Charles (1962)
"I Can't Stop Loving You" was written, composed and first recorded by Don Gibson in 1957. By the time Gibson died in 2003, the song had been recorded by more than 700 artists.
Ray Charles covered the song in 1962. It was featured on Charles' Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and released as a single. It was a number-one hit, and topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks.
4. "In My Life"—The Beatles (1965)
This song was first released on The Beatles' 1965 album, Rubber Soul. Like most Beatles songs, the writing is credited to Lennon–McCartney. Later, the two of them disagreed over the extent of their collaboration. Both agree that the lyrics are John's but McCartney claims to have written the entire melody, while John said, "his contribution melodically was the harmony and the middle-eight itself."
George Martin played the piano solo. It was sped up to make it sound more like a harpsichord.
5. "Stop in the Name of Love"—The Supremes (1965)
The song was written and produced by Motown's production team Holland–Dozier–Holland. It was a number one hit for The Supremes. The song was included on their sixth album, More Hits by The Supremes, in 1965.
Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin, of The Temptations, taught The Supremes the choreography for the song backstage before their first televised performance of it. It was on the TV special "The Sound of Motown," hosted by Dusty Springfield.
6. "When a Man Loves a Woman"—Percy Sledge (1966)
Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright have the writing credit to "When a Man Loves a Woman," but Percy Sledge says he had a hand in it too. Lewis and Wright were members of The Esquires, a band out of Sheffield, Alabama. Percy Sledge was the lead singer.
Percy Sledge recorded the number one hit single in 1966. Andrew Wright and Calvin Lewis did not play on the record.
Bette Midler covered the song in 1980. She had a Top 40 hit with her version.
7. "The Look of Love"—Dusty Springfield (1967)
"The Look of Love" was composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It was originally an instrumental song. Stan Getz recorded it as an instrumental in December 1966.
The song was first recorded with lyrics by Dusty Springfield for the Casino Royale soundtrack. She received an Oscar nomination and broke into the US Top 40.
Springfield re-recorded the song the same year in London, and released it as the B-side of "Give Me Time".
8. "Dedicated to the One I Love"—Mamas & Papas (1967)
"Dedicated to the One I Love" was first recorded in 1957 by the “5” Royales. The song was written by Lowman Pauling, the guitarist for the group, and Ralph Bass who produced the song. The song was covered by the Shirelles in 1959.
In 1967, the Mamas & the Papas released the most popular version of the song it went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. For the first time, Michelle Phillips sang the lead on the Mamas & the Papas version; usually Cass Elliot sang lead.
9. "Hello I Love You"—The Doors (1968)
Jim Morrison wrote "Hello, I Love You" in 1965. The track was one of six demos, and was not released until three years later. The Doors included the song on their 1968 album, Waiting for the Sun. It was also released as a single that year. The single was a number one hit in the US.
10. "Something"—The Beatles (1969)
"Something" is on the Beatles 1969 album Abbey Road. It was written by George Harrison. Soon after the album's release, the song was issued as a single, with "Come Together" on the B side. It was the first time the band had used a Harrison, song for the A side of a single. It was a number one hit in the US.
The song is widely viewed as a milestone in Harrison's rising status as a composer. Previously most Beatles songs had been written by Lennon and McCartney. Harrison had been limited to two songs per album. As a result he had a huge backlog of songs that had never been recorded. In fact, "Something" had been considered for recording projects, and rejected several times. The other Beatles eventually praised the song; Lennon said that it was the best song on Abbey Road.
The promotional film for the single featured footage of each of each Beatle with his respective wife. Many have remarked at the disparity in the mood of each couple, and the separateness of the band members. The Beatles would announce their break-up in April of 1970.
"Something" is usually thought of as a love song to Pattie Boyd, Harrison's first wife. In later interviews Harrison said it was about Krishna, and that “When you love a woman, you are loving the God in her.” I think that might be a bit revisionist. “Something in the way she moves attracts me like no other lover,” certainly sounds like a love song to a woman, or at least your ideal of a woman.
On November 29, 2002, a year after Harrison's death, McCartney and Eric Clapton performed the song at a tribute concert, the Concert for George at Royal Albert Hall.
I think this list of songs illustrates how much music changed from the beginning of the sixties to the end, setting the stage for the music of the seventies.
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© 2019 Sherry Hewins