Although everyone has their own opinions regarding favorite music selections, there are a number of songs that are likely to appeal to virtually every fan of oldies pop music.
As musical tastes vary, certain songs might be discarded by some as being too loud, too jazzy or because the lyrics are difficult to understand. And some people just aren’t inclined to like certain categories of music, such as C&W, R&B or disco.
However, there are some songs from the ’50s and ’60s that not only stand the test of time, they reflect characteristics that make them timeless classics to music fans of that era. Ten such songs are listed here, followed by some “honorable mention” selections. [To enjoy any of the songs, just click on the title, which is followed by the recording artist, the highest U.S. Billboard Magazine pop music chart placement and the year of the record’s peak popularity].
* “SO MUCH IN LOVE” (The Tymes, No. 1, 1963) … Nearly five decades after it was recorded by a Philadelphia group headed by lead singer George Williams, this remains a timeless classic oldie. Primarily because of this song, The Tymes were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame in 2005.
* “SEA OF LOVE” (Phil Phillips, No. 2, 1959) … Written and sung by the person born John Phillip Baptiste in Lake Charles, La., in 19xx, and backed by The Twilights, this is one of the best-known oldies pop music selections. The song was later a Top 40 hit for Del Shannon in 1982 and a No. 3 national charter for The Honeydrippers in 1985.
* “SINCE I DON’T HAVE YOU” (The Skyliners, No. 12, 1959) … As good as this recording was, it’s amazing that it didn’t even reach Top 10 status on the Billboard Magazine’s pop music charts. Nevertheless, lead singer Jimmy Beaumont and his Pittsburgh quintet had a memorable and unforgettable hit.
* “CHANSON D’AMOUR” (Art & Dotty Todd, No. 6, 1958) … The title translates to “Song Of Love”, and it has all of the qualities — vocally and instrumentally — that make for a great recording. Art and Dotty were both from Elizabeth, N.J., and they became husband and wife in 1941.
* “HE’LL HAVE TO GO” (Jim Reeves, No. 2, 1960) … With this record, the legendary C&W recording artist perfectly demonstrated what became known as The Nashville Sound — a mix of old-style country music and popular music. The veteran of both The Louisiana Hayride and The Grand Ole Opry died in a tragic plane crash at the age of 40 in 1964.
* “NEVER MY LOVE” (The Association, No. 2, 1967) … When Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) announced its list of songs receiving the most airplay during the entire 20th century, this song came in at No. 2. It was performed by the L.A. sextet known as The Association, which could easily have two other songs (“Cherish” and “Everything That Touches You”) included in this column listing.
* “WILL YOU LOVE ME TOMORROW?” (The Shirelles, No. 1, 1961) … This is a song that has to be included in this listing. As sung by this Passaic, N.J., girl group headed by Shirley Alston, it was the first No. 1 song penned by the storied songwriting duo of Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
* “COME GO WITH ME” (The Dell-Vikings, No. 4, 1957) … One of the true all-time doo-wop classics was performed by a goup consisting of members of the U.S. Air Force stationed in Pittsburgh. The group — also known for their rendition of “Whispering Bells” — underwent numerous personnal and record-label changes before finally disbanding, but this song won’t soon be forgotten.
* “YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVIN’ FEELING” (The Righteous Brothers, No. 1, 1965) … A few songs earlier, you learned what was No. 2 among songs receiving the most U.S. airplay during the 20th Century. Well, No. 1 on the list was this one, performed by Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, more familiarly known as The Righteous Brothers. Written by Barry Mann, Phil Spector and Cynthia Weil, this record perfectly exemplifies the Wall of Sound technique utilized by producer Spector.
* “WONDERLAND BY NIGHT” (Bert Kaempfert, No. 1, 1961) … This Top 10 listing concludes with a great instrumental classic by a German bandleader-composer who also produced The Beatles’ first recording session. Another fine instrumental version of this was recorded by Louis Prima, and Anita Bryant hit the charts with a vocal rendition.
Some songs meriting Honorable Mention
* “GREENFIELDS” (The Brothers Four, No. 2, 1960) … A memorable recording by four singers who met as fraternity brothers at the University of Washington.
* “YESTERDAY” (The Beatles, No. 1, 1965) … A timeless classic by The Fab Four that has been recorded by more than 2,500 other artists.
* “TWILIGHT TIME” (The Platters, No. 1, 1958) … This L.A. quintet, with Tony Williams as lead singer, had truly amazing harmony, as demonstrated in this classic that was a No. 1 hit for The Three Suns in 1944.
* “WHERE DID OUR LOVE GO?” (The Supremes, No. 1, 1964) … With songs this good, does anyone question why this Motown superstar girl group went on to have four more consecutive No. 1 songs?
* “IT’S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE” (Conway Twitty, No. 1, 1958) … One of the all-time great C&W crossovers by an artist who went on to record more than 30 No. 1 songs on the country charts.
* “DEEP PURPLE” (Nino Tempo & April Stevens, No. 1, 1963) … Few duos have ever harmonized better than this brother-sister act from Niagara Falls, N.Y. Here, they deliver a classic version of a song that was also No. 1 for the Larry Clinton Orchestra in 1939.
* “ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT?” (Elvis Presley, No. 1, 1960) … This is obviously just one of many fantastic recordings by the late, great Elvis, and it spent six consecutive weeks atop the national Billboard charts.
* “BAD TO ME” (Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, No. 9, 1964) … One of the best of the British Invasion tunes, this was the flip side of “Little Children” as performed by a group discovered by Beatles producer Brian Epstein.
* “EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY” (Dean Martin, No. 1, 1964) … There can’t be any oldies music fans who don’t recall this great rendition by one of the greatest entertainers of all time.
* “A LOVER’S QUESTION” (Clyde McPhatter, No. 6, 1958) … This was the top-selling single for an artist who also was prominent with such groups as Billy Ward & The Dominoes and The Drifters.
* “RHYTHM OF THE RAIN” (The Cascades, No. 3, 1963) … This memorable tune was composed by John Gummoe, the lead singer of this San Diego group.
The list could undoubtedly go on and on, and it’s a virtual cinch that every oldies music fan could make a case for some of their favorite songs to be included here, but most of those fans will likely find most of the listed songs to their liking.