1960s Song Meanings

Contemporary music came of age in the 1960s: a decade that began in 1960, the year when Percy Faith’s gorgeous orchestral instrumental “The Theme From ‘A Summer Place'” topped the charts for nine weeks, and ended in 1969 which saw “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” by The 5th Dimension staying at #1 for six weeks.

In between, music traveled a path marked by hit singles that encompassed the sound of teen idols, girl and R&B harmony groups…mixed in with folk and folk rock…dance, surf and drag, and British Invasion…Motown, Southern, and blue-eyed soul…garage rock, bubblegum, psychedelic, prog rock, blues rock, and jazz rock Music.

Lyrically, pop evolved from traditional boy/girl romance songs to the sophisticated rhythms and rhymes of Burt Bacharach & Hal David, and its subject matter expanded to include social commentary and political protest.

It was truly a decade unlike any other in recorded music, in which every week brought new and exciting sounds that are still popular 50+ years later.

The decade closed out with hip-hop’s ascendance to platinum sales heights and the beginning of the boy band craze.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.


Beyond The Sea – Bobby Darin

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini – Brian Hyland


Do You Love Me – The Contours

Green Onions – Booker T. & The MG’s

Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers

The Loco-Motion – Little Eva

Twist And Shout – The Isley Brothers


Dancing In The Street – Martha & The Vandellas

Dead Man’s Curve – Jan & Dean

Don’t Worry Baby – The Beach Boys

Do Wah Diddy Diddy – Manfred Mann

Fun, Fun, Fun – The Beach Boys

Hello Dolly – Louis Armstrong

My Guy – Mary Wells

Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison And The Candy Men

Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen

You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You – Dean Martin


B-A-B-Y – Carla Thomas

California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas

Good Lovin’ – The Young Rascals

Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

Hanky Panky – Tommy James And The Shondells

I’m A Believer – The Monkees

In The Arms Of Love – Andy Williams

Last Train To Clarksville – The Monkees

Monday, Monday – The Mamas & The Papas

Reach Out I’ll Be There – Four Tops

Satisfaction – Otis Redding

They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! – Napoleon XIV

Time Won’t Let Me – The Outsiders

Wild Thing – The Troggs

When A Man Loves A Woman – Percy Sledge

Warm And Tender Love – Percy Sledge


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like) – Aretha Franklin

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

Daydream Believer – The Monkees

Dedicated To The One I Love – The Mamas & Papas

Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – Wilson Pickett

Gimme Some Lovin’ – Spencer Davis Group

Groovin’ – The Young Rascals

Happy Together – Turtles

I’m A Man – Spencer Davis Group

I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) – Aretha Franklin

Incense And Peppermints – Strawberry Alarm Clock

I Second That Emotion – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

I Think We’re Alone Now – Tommy James And The Shondells

Kind Of A Drag – The Buckinghams

Let’s Live For Today – The Grass Roots

Mustang Sally – Wilson Pickett

Never My Love – The Association

Respect – Aretha Franklin

Soul Man – Sam & Dave

The Beat Goes On – Sonny & Cher

The Letter – The Box Tops

To Sir With Love – Lulu

The Rain, The Park & Other Things – The Cowsills

Try A Little Tenderness – Otis Redding

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

Windy – The Association

Your Precious Love – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

You Sexy Thing – Hot Chocolate


Blue Moon – The Ventures

Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes) – Carla Thomas

Shop Around – The Miracles (Featuring Bill “Smokey” Robinson)

Stand By Me – Ben E. King


18 Yellow Roses – Bobby Darin

Catch A Wave – The Beach Boys

Heat Wave – Martha & The Vandellas

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! (A Letter From Camp) – Allan Sherman

Louie Louie – The Kingsmen

Moon River – Andy Williams

Pipeline – The Chantay’s

Surf City – Jan & Dean

Surfin’ U.S.A. – The Beach Boys

Wipe Out – The Surfaris


Do You Believe In Magic – The Lovin’ Spoonful

Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) – Tony Bennett

Hang On Sloopy – The McCoys

Help Me, Rhonda – The Beach Boys

How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You – Marvin Gaye

I Can’t Help Myself – Four Tops

It’s The Same Old Song – Four Tops

I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) – Otis Redding

In The Midnight Hour – Wilson Pickett

Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds

My Girl – The Temptations

Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While) – Kim Weston

Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season) – The Byrds

Wooly Bully – Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs


A Beautiful Morning – The Rascals

Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf

Both Sides Now – Judy Collins

Chain Of Fools – Aretha Franklin

Eleanore – The Turtles

Hard To Handle – Otis Redding

Honey – Bobby Goldsboro

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye

I Thank You – Sam & Dave

Love Child – Diana Ross & The Supremes

Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf

Mony Mony – Tommy James And The Shondells

Sissy Strut – The Meters

(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding

Slip Away – Clarence Carter

Spooky – Classics IV

Stormy – Classics IV Featuring Dennis Yost

The Love Of My Woman – Darrell Banks

You Keep Me Hangin’ On – Vanilla Fudge


A Boy Named Sue – Johnny Cash

Crossroads – Cream

Crystal Blue Persuasion – Tommy James And The Shondells

Everybody’s Talkin’ – Nilsson

Hawaii Five-O – The Ventures

I Can’t Get Next To You – The Temptations

My Cherie Amour – Stevie Wonder

Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye – Steam

One – Three Dog Night

Snatching It Back – Clarence Carter

Someday We’ll Be Together – Diana Ross And The Supremes

Son-Of-A Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield

The Windmills Of Your Mind – Dusty Springfield