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What’s New, Pussycat?

August 13, 2015

Susan Marg

Illustration by: © viastas

Illustration by: © viastas

1965 – what an upside down, topsy-turvy year it was, and I’m not referring to the headlines, of which there were plenty. I’m talking about music.

According to Billboard magazine’s Top 100 songs of the year Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ Wooly Bully led the list, despite never reaching the top spot on a weekly Hot 100. What a novelty.

Elvis was still around, his “Crying in the Chapel: was number 9 on the charts, while the Searchers’ “Love Potion Number Nine” was number 70. The Beach Boys were kicking up sand with “Help Me, Rhonda” at number 11, beating out country’s “King of the Road” by Roger Miller.

The sounds of Motown were also ringing in our ears. The Four Tops clocked in at number 2 with “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and again at number 83 with “It’s the Same Old Song.”   The Temptations made the top ten songs of the year at number 10 with “My Girl.”

But what about the Beatles? They had a good year, too. George Harrison had his tonsils removed, and John Lennon passed his driving test. Together with Paul and Ringo they became the first rock group to win Best New Artist at the seventh annual Grammy Awards, as well as being named Best Performance by a Vocal Group for “A Hard Day’s Night.” Yet the Song of the Year went to Jerry Herman’s “Hello Dolly!” as recorded by Louis Armstrong, and the bossa nova beat prevailed for Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto who took home Album of the Year. Think “The Girl from Ipanema” with vocals by Astrud Gilberto.

The Beatles’ “Help!” was number 7; “Ticket to Ride” was number 31; “Eight Days a Week” was number 55.

There are so many other groups we associate with the sixties. The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was number 3 on Billboard’s end-of-year hit list. British beat bands to make the charts included Herman’s Hermits with five songs, the Kinks, the Dave Clark Five, Freddie and the Dreamers, and Jerry and the Pacemakers. British soloists included Petula Clark and Tom Jones.

The Righteous Brothers, the Supremes, and Jay and the Americans comprised some of the popular U.S. born and bred talent. Sonny and Cher first achieved fame in 1965 with “I Got You Babe,” ending the year at number 16, and “Baby Don’t Go” at 72. And then there was Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan went electric fifty years ago, alienating his fans at the Newport Folk Festival by performing on an electric guitar and playing loud. His album “Bringing It All Back Home” was both electric and acoustic. The Byrds covered his “Mr. Tambourine Man, adding sounds, ending the year at number 25. Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” was number 41 for the year.

Who were you listening to back then? Keep searchin’: the Billboard Top 100 Songs of 1965 can be found here. Who are you listening to now?

© 2015 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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