the #1 hit records on the pop charts 1965

Estimated reading time is 52 minutes.

THIS IS THE SIXTH in a series of ten articles addressing the #1 records of the year on Cash Box magazine’s pop chart from 1960 through 1969. It was originally published as “Let’s Hang On To Our Ticket To Ride” in my publication Tell It Like It Was on Medium back on June 2, 2019.

Please read “Introduction To The #1 Records On The Cash Box Pop Chart Of The 1960s” before reading this article. It will explain the nature of this project, introduce you to the writers whose opinions follow, and will make everything easier to understand.

The opinions expressed below are those of John Ross, Lew Shiner, and me. John is the talent behind the Round Place In The Middle website where he opines about rock & roll, western movies, and detective novels. John is my favorite writer writing about rock & roll. He is currently working on his first novel.

Lew is one of the finest novelists in America. Since you’re reading his name here, start with his novel Glimpses, which combines time-travel with fantasy and the milieu of ’60s rock music. Follow that with Deserted Cities Of The Heart (time-travel and psychedelic mushrooms!) and then his latest, Outside The Gates Of Heaven, which also takes place in the ’60s.

If you want to skim through this article and skip around from record to record or comment to comment, that works and you’ll have fun. But this article will make more sense if you read it from beginning to end.

One of the first things you will notice is that each of the articles opens with a calendar of events that reflect the zeitgeist of the era. Hopefully, these will give you some background and some context in which the #1 records of that were made.

 

PetulaClark 1965 GoldDisc 900 copy

FEATURED ARTIST: When Downtown topped the charts in the US in January, Petula Clark was already 32 years old. This mattered because in the ’60s anyone over 30 was suspect (and ancient). Clark had been a recording artist since 1949 (!) with notable success in the UK and France. With Downtown, Pet became one of the hottest singers on the planet. It was a major hit in most markets and received several sales awards, such as the unidentified award she is displaying in the photo above.

In the UK, Downtown received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song of the Year of 1964. In the US, it won the Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Song of 1965. Pet would place another fourteen sides in the Cash Box Top 40 but by 1969 her career as a major hitmaker was over.

For a detailed account of the making of Downtown, refer to the Sound on Sound article, “Classic Tracks” on the Sound on Sound website.

 

1965

January
President Johnson proclaimed his Great Society during his State of the Union address.

February
Malcolm X was assassinated.

March
Alabama State Troopers attacked civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, on their otherwise peaceful march to the state capital of Montgomery. In response to these events, President Johnson sent a bill to Congress that formed the basis for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

April
The first Students for a Democratic Society marched against the Vietnam War drew 25,000 protestors to Washington, DC.

May
The first psychedelic concert poster was printed from a drawing by Michael Ferguson and George Hunter. It announced the opening of the Charlatans at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City on June 1, 1965.

June
Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh wrote a letter to Martin Luther King Jr explaining that the monks in Vietnam immolated themselves out of love and compassion to raise awareness of their cause.

July
Bob Dylan performed with an electric rock & roll band backing him at the Newport Folk Festival.

August
Chilton Books published Frank Herbert’s Dune.

September
The US Marine Corps cut training of new recruits from twelve weeks of boot camp to eight in response to the increase in combat troops assigned to Vietnam. 

October
Ballantine Books published the first authorized edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, the first part of three novels that would comprise The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

November
The Pillsbury Doughboy made his début in the United States.

December
The first animated Peanuts television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, débuted on CBS-TV.

 


 

1965

 

Medium 45 1964 Beatles IFeelFine 600

January 2–January 16

The Beatles
I Feel Fine
Capitol 5327
(4 weeks)
This record spent one week at #1 on December 19, 1964, for a total of five weeks at the top. Refer to that date for more information.

 

Medium 45 1965 PetulaClark Downtown 600 1

January 23–January 30

Petula Clark
Downtown
Warner Brothers 5494
(2 weeks)

By the time that Petula Clark topped the US charts in early 1965 with Downtown, she was 32 years old and had been a star for twenty of those years! She had half a dozen Top 10 hits in the UK and even more in France, but not a single side in her fifteen years as a recording artist had graced the Top 100 in the US.

That all changed with Downtown, a remarkable song written by Clark’s producer and collaborator Tony Hatch as a response to seeing New York City for the first time in early 1964.

I could argue that regardless of such extraordinary singles as You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, Mr. Tambourine Man, Satisfaction, and Like A Rolling Stone, it was Downtown that was the biggest hit of the year:

• In the UK, Downtown received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song of the Year of 1964.

• In the US, Downtown won the Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Song of 1965 (and only the Grammy people would consider Downtown to be rock & roll). 

John: My definition of rock & roll is any record that could not have been conceived, let alone made, before 1955. Downtown, as it exists, in all its sweep and grandeur, could not have been conceived, let alone made, before 1955. I can come up with plenty of reasons to be mad at the Grammies, but—especially if by “song” they really meant “record”—I’ll give them a pass on that one.

It probably doesn’t hurt that hearing Downtown over a shopping mall speaker system when I was about 5 years old is my earliest musical memory—and a deliriously happy one. I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off while my sister tried to catch me and my mother (who was past running) looked on in wonder.

I was chasing the sound.

Still at it, it seems.

Neal: That’s an interesting argument—I’m not certain that I agree with it, but I am certain that I like it! We should consider an article addressing some kind of feasible definition of rock & roll and we can use your definition as a starting point.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (March 1, 1965)
• Accumulated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No
• Grammy Award: Best Rock & Roll Recording 1964

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯

Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 RighteousBrothers YouveLostThatLovinFeelin 600

February 6–February 20

The Righteous Brothers
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
Philles 124
(2 weeks)

With You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’, Phil Spector made it back to the top of the charts for the first time since Be My Baby almost two years (see October 12, 1963). But this record had a completely different sound and direction than his previous hits with several girl groups, a sound that was already considered dated in ’65. With the Righteous Brothers, he made one of the most artistic pop records ever.

Phil Spector put a tremendous amount of effort into this production, but the production was so unusual that he began to wonder if he had a hit record. He played the record for the following people and asked for feedback:

• The song’s co-writer Barry Mann was convinced the song was recorded at the wrong speed. Spector called his engineer Larry Levine to confirm that it was supposed to sound that way.

• Spector’s publisher Don Kirshner thought it was great but suggested changing the title to Bring Back that Lovin’ Feelin’.

• New York disc jockey Murray the K thought the song was fantastic but suggested moving the bass line in the middle to the beginning.

Spector heard these opinions as criticism and got very nervous: “The co-writer, the co-publisher and the number-one disc jockey in America all killed me,” Spector said. “I didn’t sleep for a week when that record came out.” (SongFacts)

In 1999, the performing rights organization Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) claimed that You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’ had more radio and television play in the United States than any other song during the 20th-century. Counting every version of the song ever recorded, it had racked up 8,000,000 plays between 1965 and 2000.

John: Here’s where our generational differences start to tell. I first heard Soul And Inspiration in the late ’70s when I bought it on the flip side of one of those double-golden oldies 45s with You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. I still have it. The label is MGM and the Lovin’ Feelin’ side lists Bill Medley as the producer.

I would have just dismissed that as somebody’s bonehead mistake . . . except I have the song on at least a dozen other comps and nowhere else does it sound as good. Without that MGM single, I’m sure I would still love it.

But I doubt it would be among my two or three favorites of all time. I still wonder if Medley dared a remix somewhere along the way. And since he really did produce Soul And Inspiration, he proved he had the know-how.

Neal: In 1967, I bought THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS GREATEST HITS album to get all those great singles in stereo. Half of the tracks were credited to Spector as producer and half were credited to Medley. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ was credited to Medley, which was confusing as I had the 45 and it was credited to Spector.

Exactly how such an error got past everybody at Verve and especially Medley is intriguing, yes?

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 GaryLewis This DiamondRing 600

February 27

Gary Lewis & the Playboys
This Diamond Ring
Liberty 55756
(1 week)

I really liked Gary Lewis & the Playboys’ records back in the day. I knew he wasn’t much of a singer but producer Snuff Garrett made sure he had exceptional songs and exceptional session musicians so the finished product was almost always an exceptional record.

How do you not like this one and Count Me In, Everybody Loves A Clown, Green Grass, and my fave, the Beach Boys-ish Just My Style? All you have to do is pretend that Gary really can sing.

Lew: Gary Lewis used his father (Jerry)‘s fame as stepping stone, and this record was a studio creation that the band couldn’t duplicate live, but nonetheless, it remains a wonderful pop confection, shimmering and sweet, with more than a hint of real sadness at its core.

John: Gary’s records were probably the purest studio product of the entire rock & roll era, which I consider to be 1950 to 1994—Fat’s Domino’s first record to Kurt Cobain’s suicide. (There’s nothing a black man can invent that a whiny white kid with a shotgun can’t destroy.)

Gary’s vocals were doubled by Ron Hicklin, a session singer mixed high enough to be considered a “guide vocal.” The process portended evil. It’s a forerunner of how every record is made now.

That said, I share Neal’s love for the records made then—especially this one and Just My Style and my fave of them all, Little Miss Go-Go, which was the flip-side to Count Me In.

Neal: Wow! I forgot about Little Miss Go-Go. Had Jan & Dean cut that record in 1963, it might have been another #1 record for them.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (April 28, 1967)
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Beatles EightDaysAWeek PS EC 600

Medium 45 1965 Beatles EightDaysAWeek 600

March 6–March 2

The Beatles
Eight Days A Week
Capitol 5371
(3 weeks)

Even back in 1965, when I had to “hate” the Beatles because my brother loved them (it’s a sibling rivalry thing), I loved “Eight Days A Week! I kept reading about the influence of Motown on its sound and feel but I didn’t hear it. At least for the first few decades, I didn’t hear it. Then, one day, I heard it—just like that!

How wonderful that they got that past me all those years.

John: I get where Neal is coming from on this one. In case anyone had been resisting the idea, this is just about where it became impossible to think the Beatles were anything less than genius.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (September 16, 1965)
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Supremes StopInTheNameOfLove PS 600

Medium 45 1965 Supremes StopInTheNameOfLove 600

March 27

The Supremes
Stop! In The Name Of Love
Motown M-1074
(1 week)

Supposedly, songwriter-producer Lamont Dozier’s girlfriend caught him cheating on her. This led to a fight where she said she was leaving him. Dozier pleaded, “Baby, please stop in the name of love before you break my heart.”

It didn’t work—she was still going to break up with him.

So he asked her to think it over—she broke up with him anyway

So he turned his pleas into the song Stop! In The Name Of Love.

When it became a hit, she came back to him. (SongFacts)

Factual or apocryphal? Who knows—it’s a good story. What I want to know is did she come back to him because she was moved by the sensitive guy who turned their fight into a song, or did she come back because the song meant a big paycheck for the sensitive songwriter?

John: I have a great memory from 2000 of watching two 12-year-old white girls sashay up the inclined hallway at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where the inducted artists’ signatures are imprinted on a glass wall. Stop! In The Name Of Love was blasting on the speakers. The two girls had every one of Diana, Flo, and Mary’s hand motions down pat. In the last thirty-five years, that’s the best I’ve ever felt about America.

Neal: Motown did not seek immediate RIAA certification for an official Gold Record Award for Stop! In The Name Of Love. This was rectified on September 8, 1997, when it received a Gold Record Award for 500,000 sales.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 HermansHermits CantYouHearMyHeartbeat PS 600

Medium 45 1965 HermansHermits CantYouHearMyHeartbeat 600

April 3

Herman’s Hermits
Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat
MGM K-13310
(1 week)

Because of I’m Henry VIII, I Am and Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter and other crimes against humanity, it was easy for serious rock fans to look down (way down) on Herman’s Hermits. Thankfully, the passing of time has softened some of our hardness and we can appreciate how good the group was at making pop records like Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.

Perhaps if we live another 30-40 years we won’t hold our noses at the thought of ol’ Henry and Mrs. Brown’s daughter.

But I doubt it.

John: Reputations are funny things: I am convinced that if Must To Avoid and No Milk Today had joined this one as the Hermits string of #1 hits, they would be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Alas, we got Henry VIII and Mrs. Brown instead.

Neal: Interesting argument: Herman’s Hermits played an important part in the British Invasion of 1964-1965, placing sides in the US Top 40 and selling Grommett only knows how many millions of singles and albums—and yes, they were major movers of LP product. We know that the likelihood of their induction into the Hall of Fame with Henry VIII and Mrs. Brown as two-thirds of their Big Three is slim.

But if the Big Three had been Can’t You Hear My Heart Beat, A Must To Avoid, and No Milk Today, the rancidity of the other two would go away. These three fine hits would be backed up by such equally fine records as I’m Into Something Good, Listen People, Dandy (which they found on the Kinks’ bloody marvelous FACE TO FACE album), and my favorite, There’s A Kind Of Hush (which should be made an honorary #1 record retroactively).

And there are several fine singles that were big hits in the UK that didn’t even make the Top 100 in the US, such as Sunshine Girl, Something’s Happening, and Lady Barbara.

Would the present Hall of Fame voters consider them for induction? I dunno, but if I was a voter they’d at least get a good sounding.

Lew: We can’t overlook the influence of producer-Svengali Mickie Most (Animals, Donovan, late Yardbirds). Mickey seemed fixated on playing to the teenybopper audience, whether that was appropriate for the artist (Lulu) or not (Jeff Beck).

Apparently, the Hermits were originally into R&B, as most English beat groups were, but Most cleaned them up and dumbed them down for stardom.

I agree with my mates above on the merits of such songs as I’m Into Something Good and A Kind Of Hush. And I actually like Mrs. Brown for its subtle, self-effacing sorrow (“Tell her that I’m well and feeling fine”).

John: I’m glad Lew got in a word for Mickey Most, who also produced Hot Chocolate in the ’70s. He should definitely be in the Hall of Fame.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 FreddieDreamers ImTellingYouNow 600

April 10–April 17

Freddie & the Dreamers
I’m Telling You Now
Tower 125
(2 weeks)

In 1964-1965, our parents couldn’t tell the difference between one British band and another. To them, Freddie and his Dreamers weren’t that different from the Beatles: They were making mindless fun for teenagers.

This is the only record released on Capitol Records’ weird Tower Records subsidiary (home to such groups as the Chocolate Watch Band, the Standells, and Pink Floyd) to reach #1 on any chart anywhere.

John: At least it wasn’t Do The Freddie that went to the top. We retained at least a shred of our national dignity.

Neal: I have been walking around for decades with the lyrics “Lift your left leg high then your right one, too, do the Freddie.” And then you mentioned the damn song and I went to find a video on YouTube of Freddie doing the Freddie and, lo and behold, my remembered lyrics aren’t anywhere to be found in the song! So, where’d my lyrics come from? (And, no, they aren’t caused by too much acid in the ’70s.)

John: I imagine some part of your teenage brain was rejecting whatever you were really hearing and replacing it with some kind of defense mechanism.

Neal: But maybe the false memory was created post-teendom. Holy Moscoso, maybe it was created while I was tripping!

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 WayneFontana GameOfLove 600

April 24

Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders
Game Of Love
Fontana F-1503
(1 week)

A guilty pleasure that still sounds good all these years later: “The purpose of a man is to love a woman and the purpose of a woman is to love a man, so let’s play the game of love.”

John: I’ve never been able to reconcile guilt with pleasure. If one is real, the other is not. In any case, no need to call this anything but a great record.

Neal: That’s because you weren’t raised Catholic or Jewish. For us, guilt is a requisite for a full life (and it actually adds a touch of spice to some aspects of living).

Lew: A footnote here to mention that one of the founding members of the Mindbenders was Eric Stewart, later of the group 10cc. Fontana ditched the group later in the year, and the Mindbenders went on to put A Groovy Kind Of Love in the charts with Stewart on lead vocals (see June 4, 1966, entry).

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 HermansHermits MrsBrown PS 600

Medium 45 1965 HermansHermits MrsBrown 600

May 1–May 22

Herman’s Hermits
Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter
MGM K-13341
(4 weeks)

Initially, my entire comment for this record was, “Oy vey!”

But then I thought, “No, it needs more.”

So I added this:

Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter was not released as a single in the UK.

Lucky them.

John: I think we said all that needed to be said about this one in the previous Hermits’ entry.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (June 16, 1965)
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Beatles TicketToRide PS WC b 600

Medium 45 1965 Beatles TicketToRide 600

May 29

The Beatles
Ticket To Ride
Capitol 5407
(1 week)

Ticket To Ride was unlike any Beatles single that had come before it and gave them a harder sound than that of all of their earlier singles. And the lyrics are a bit edgier. This was important in 1965 and would get even more important as the decade went on.

Lew: In many ways, 1965 is about drummers: Get Off Of My Cloud, Over And Over, and this splendid, perfect, weird, tom-and-snare-flams part by Ringo.

John: Ah, yes, the drums. The steady rolls and then the perfect pause-and-snap near the end. I broke many a plastic ruler to this one. She’s got a ticket to ri-hi-hide . . . Whap!

Also, my pick for John’s greatest vocal.

Neal: For some inexplicable reason, Ticket To Ride appears to be the only Beatles Capitol single of the ’60s not to have been awarded an RIAA Gold Record. If someone can make this explicable, I’d love to hear from you.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Supremes BackInMyArmsAgain PS 600

Medium 45 1965 Supremes BackInMyArmsAgain 600

June 5

The Supremes
Back In My Arms Again
Motown MT-1075
(1 week)

This was the Supremes’ fifth consecutive chart-topper, but the super Supremes didn’t receive a single solitary RIAA Gold Record Award in the ’60s. Why? Berry Gordy wasn’t opening his books to anyone—not to his artists and not to an independent auditor.

By this time, Gordy’s increased focus on Diana Ross as the leader of the group had severely strained the relationship of the three members, each of whom was capable of taking the lead vocal on any track.

John: Some years back, I heard all three members of Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier (aka Holland-Dozier-Holland, the production and songwriting team behind the Supremes’ early hits, among many others) being interviewed on Terry Gross’s NPR talk show. One of them talked a time in 1964 right after the Supremes had just had their first #1 hit with a Holland-Dozier-Holland song and production

The speaker had taken a break and gone out on the stoop for a smoke after a long day’s work with his partners at Motown’s Hitsville studio. There he overheard Berry Gordy saying that the company really needed to put its weight behind the Supremes now that they had broken through.

He slipped back inside, went to the office where his partners were getting ready to pack up for the day. He hooked a chair under the doorknob, told them what he had heard, and said: “We’re not leaving here until we write the next three number one hits for the Supremes.” Those three hits have already been covered in our little series here.

One thing that wasn’t discussed was whether Diana Ross would continue to be the lead singer. She ended up being the lead voice on more #1 records than any other Motown vocalist and it wasn’t close. Whatever part of his anatomy Berry Gordy was thinking with at the time, he knew what he was doing.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 BeachBoys HelpMeRhonda PS EC 600

Medium 45 1965 BeachBoys HelpMeRhonda 600

June 12

The Beach Boys
Help Me, Rhonda
Capitol 5395
(1 week)

This song was originally titled Help Me, Ronda and was recorded in early January 1965. It was released in March as part of THE BEACH BOYS TODAY! album. When Brian Wilson learned that the Rip Chords were planning on recording it as a single, he decided it would be the Beach Boys next single instead.

Wilson changed the spelling to Rhonda and began working on it on February 24, completing it on March 22. It was released on April 8 and two months later was the best-selling record in the country. This version was included on the SUMMER DAYS (AND SUMMER NIGHTS!!) album, released in July 1965.

John: For me, the great difference in the single is from “But she let another guy come between us and it ruined our plans” to “But she let another guy come between us and it shattered our plans.” It changes the feel from a bummer to the singer’s whole world falling apart. I previously mentioned that Brian Wilson stated in a late ’70s interview that I Get Around was the recording session where he fired his tyrannical father. (See July 4, 1964, entry.)

He may have been misremembering, as there’s a tape extant of an epic meltdown between the two on this one a year later. I’m probably in the minority, and I wouldn’t necessarily want to live on the difference, but I think Brian made greater music getting back at Dad than taking drugs.

Neal: The single version of the song is a souped-up production of the earlier album track and is much more powerful. The arrangement is pretty much the same and except for adding an “h” to Rhonda’s name, the only difference is Brian changed “ruined” to “shattered.”

And you’re right, John, it changes everything. Thanks for pointing out what should have been obvious for the past five decades.

Finally, the fight with Murry took place on February 24, the first day the group recorded vocals for Help Me, Rhonda. It’s really not that big of a fight as family fights go—not one person said, “Don’t fuck with the formula.”

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 FourTops ICantHelpMyself 600

June 19–June 26

The Four Tops
I Can’t Help Myself
Motown M-1076
(2 weeks)

When Berry Gordy signed the Four Tops in 1964, they became the old men of Motown. The Tops had formed as a quartet in high school in 1953 and had cut their first sides for Chess in 1956. But as good as they were, success on the charts eluded them until they signed with Motown.

When their first single for their new company, Baby, I Need Your Lovin’, reached the top 20, they became the old men of Top 40 radio. The next two singles didn’t fare as well and then the writing and production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland gave them I Can’t Help Myself.

The Tops consistently made good records but after this only one would reach #1 again: the anthemic Reach Out I’ll Be There in 1966. They would rack up more than a dozen Top 20 hits for Motown before moving to ABC-Paramount in 1972, where they scored several more Top 20 hits.

John: There are people who think this is lightweight Motown or just plain lightweight. I count these people among the many whom I do not understand.

Neal: With the Supremes’ Stop! In The Name of Love (1074) and Back In My Arms Again (1075) and the Four Tops’ I Can’t Help Myself (1076), Motown had three consecutive singles in their catalog numbering system reach #1. That can’t happen often for a record company, can it?

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Byrds MrTambourineMan 600

July 3

The Byrds
Mr. Tambourine Man
Columbia 4-43271
(1 week)

Historically and artistically, the year’s most important event was the introduction of relatively smart, meaningful lyrics through the advent of folk-rock music. This would have an immediate and long-standing impact on popular music. While Bob Dylan justly receives the lion’s share of credit for turning everything around with his lyrics, it was the Byrds arrangement and performance of his Mr. Tambourine Man that inspired the term folk-rock.

And 1965 was the year of folk-rock: Mr. Tambourine Man was followed to the toppermost of the poppermost by Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone and Barry McGuire’s Eve Of Destruction in September. The Byrds returned with a second #1 hit with Turn! Turn! Turn! in December. Folk-rock would continue to top the charts in 1966 but would be effectively gone as an important genre on Top 40 radio by ’67.

Lew: Another really smart thing the Byrds did was cut the song down from five-and-a-half minutes to two-and-a-half. (I love early Dylan as much as almost anybody, but his version of Mr. Tambourine Man does go on and on.) And add those gorgeous harmonies.

John: I just saw Roger McGuinn (lead singer and guitarist) in concert with bass player Chris Hillman. One of the highlights of the show was McGuinn telling the story of how Mr. Tambourine Man came to be: “This is what we heard,” he said before launching into a dead-on imitation of Dylan singing the original. “And then I thought, what if we did this instead.” This was the anthemic chord progression that opens their version and has never left the radio since 1965.

Until you’ve heard the difference put that starkly, you can’t really appreciate how far the Byrds went toward making Bob Dylan a rock & roll star. Peter, Paul & Mary had put him into the mainstream two years earlier, but this was a whole other thing and the implications are with us still.

Neal: Had Sonny & Cher not released All I Really Want To Do (credited to Cher as her first solo record) at the same as the Byrds released their version, the Byrds might have had three #1 records in 1965. (Although that probably wouldn’t have had the teensiest effect quieting on the internal bickering and retarding the too-quick dissolution of the original group.)

Finally, in their entire illustrious career, the Byrds received only one RIAA Gold Record Award and that was for their greatest hits album of 1967.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 RollingStones Satisfcation PS 600

Medium 45 1965 RollingStones Satisfcation 600

July 10–July 31

The Rolling Stones
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
London 45-9766
(4 weeks)

In the UK, the Rolling Stones were the Beatles’ biggest rivals on the charts and in sales. But in the US, the Stones got off to a modest start on Top 40 radio, scoring a lone Top 10 hit in 1964. Their place as the Fab Four’s competition was taken up by the Dave Clark Five (especially in 1964) and Herman’s Hermits (especially in 1965). That changed with Satisfaction—almost no one uses the complete title—which many of us older farts still consider the definitive rock & roll single of the ’60s.

Lew: According to legend, Keith Richards heard the guitar lick to Satisfaction in a dream while the band was on tour in the US. He staggered out of bed, recorded it on whatever primitive recording device he had with him, and went back to sleep. When he got up the next morning he was surprised to discover it.

It’s interesting to think how music history might have been different had Richards thought, “Nah, I’m too tired to get up, I’m sure I’ll remember it in the morning.”

I generally keep pen and paper on my nightstand, but most of the time the ideas that seemed so clever in the middle of the night are silly or obvious in the morning. But you never know when one of them might be Satisfaction.

John: The first of several Stones’ entries in the Greatest Rock & Roll Record Sweepstakes. This constituted the second of Mick Jagger’s deals with Beelzebub. The first had put him in front of England’s sharpest R&B band. This time, he had it put in the contract that he would be granted a voice to match. More consequences that are with us still.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (July 19, 1965)
• Accumulated sales: 4,500,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 HermansHermits ImHenryVIII PS 600

Medium 45 1965 HermansHermits ImHenryVIII 600

August 7

Herman’s Hermits
I’m Henry VIII, I Am
MGM K-13367
(1 week)

Herman’s Hermits had yet another hit with yet another silly song that further alienated them from “serious” rock fans while further endearing them to 12-year-old (white) girls. At the time they recorded this song, it was more than fifty years old!

While Henry VIII is popularly known for his six marriages, he was, in fact, a pivotal figure in British history. He was the King of England from 1509-1547 and famously fought with the Pope about his desire to have his first marriage annulled. The Vatican’s refusal led to Henry’s pulling the Church of England out from under from Papal authority, which effectively began the English Reformation, which bestowed upon England the divine right of kings.

I’m Henry VIII, I Am was not released as a single in the group’s native UK. Again, lucky them.

John: My friend Jeff made himself the arbiter of all things cool by teaching us the lyrics to this in first grade. I’ll have more to say about Jeff’s burgeoning credentials when we get to the Monkees and 1967.

(And if you’re wondering why it was such a big deal to know the lyrics to this song in first grade, don’t ask me. I wasn’t culturally cognizant in those days, even to the level of my fellow first-graders. All I know is these things get established early. Jeff still held his position when I moved away after the eighth grade. I imagine wherever he is now, he holds it still.)

Neal: While it seems like the world is an endless extension of high school, such is not the case. Pretty girls and handsome boys somehow become homely while cheerleaders and all-star athletes get fat. On the other hand, wallflowers become late-bloomers and the ones with the early onset zits clear up and become models. A few things do remain the same after graduation: the smart ones keep their intelligence, the dumb ones rarely gain intelligence, and bullies keep on bullying.

I know this is so because I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a king. I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing: Each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race. That’s life, I tell ya, and I can’t deny it.

That said, readers might recognize the tune from the 1990 movie Ghost, where Sam (Patrick Swayze) sings it to annoy and goad Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) into helping him. Fortunately, the exposure this movie gave to the song did not catapult the Hermits record back to the top of the charts as it did the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (August 31, 1965)
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 SonnyCher IGotYouBabe 600

August 14–August 21

Sonny & Cher
I Got You Babe
Atco 45-6359
(2 weeks)

I like Sonny & Cher’s I Got You Babe and Baby Don’t Go so much and I like Cher’s acting so much—especially Moonstruck (“Aw, ma, I love him awful”)—I can almost forgive her her career as a solo singer.

Almost.

John: I Got You Babe is a fun record. It ain’t Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves or Half Breed, two of the angriest records ever made, neither of which required Cher to make a deal with Beelzebub. Or even Sonny.

Neal: Sonny was Beelzebub.

Lew: Sonny learned the production trade under Phil Spector, and you can really hear it on this song. Of course, the first lesson he learned was to use the Wrecking Crew for his backing group.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (September 17, 1965)
• Accumulated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Beatles Help PS EC 600

Medium 45 1965 Beatles Help 600

August 28–September 11

The Beatles
Help!
Capitol 5476
(3 weeks)

Help! was the title tune to the Beatles second movie, Help!, also released in 1965. Everyone was so still enamored of the lads from Liverpool at the time that they failed to notice it only took them two movies to make a dumb movie, whereas it had taken Elvis five movies to do the same thing.

John: More deeply felt than I think anyone assumed at the time. Lennon later opined that he should have done it slower. I can hear that working, but not to the level of this. The incongruent tempo renders it more urgent—and desperate—by a factor of infinity.

I’ve never been able to watch the movie Help! all the way through without nodding off, but the UK soundtrack is my favorite Beatles’ LP, and I think 1965 was their peak year.

Lew: I’m going to go against all arbiters of hip and say that Help! is one of my favorite movies of all time. To me it’s the direct descendant of the Goon Shows that Lennon (and I) dearly loved (a 1950’s surrealist BBC radio show featuring, most famously, Peter Sellers).

It’s a parody of the James Bond movies, it’s the showcase for a raft of great Beatles tunes, and it features great performances from the likes of Eleanor Bron, Leo McKern (an arguably racist portrayal, but also arguably not), the incomparable Victor Spinetti, Roy Kinnear, and many more.

The on-screen chemistry between the four Beatles was even stronger than in A Hard Day’s Night, and while that chemistry was to some extent a fantasy, it was also very real, and irresistible. At his best, as he is here, director Richard Lester has unequaled comic timing (see also The Three Musketeers), and co-screenwriter Marc Behm brought a literary novelist’s credentials to the party. The climactic beach scene is a master class in resolving multiple storylines simultaneously.

Neal: Great Balls of Fire, I think Lew just called me an arbiter of hip! Does that make me . . . cool? I also enjoy the movie, just as I enjoy Follow That Dream and Viva Las Vegas, but they’re still dumb.

And as smart and hip as Magical Mystery Tour may have seemed as a hip concept (Paul said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s make a movie based on Ken Kesey and the Pranksters and their magic bus and we’ll add lots of music and costumes and special effects and have us a merry old psychedelic time,” to which George replied, “Fab,” and Ringo said, “Groovy,” and John said, “It’s all yellow matter custard”) in the end it was just another dumb movie.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (September 2, 1965)
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 BobDylan LikeARollingStone 600

September 18

Bob Dylan
Like A Rolling Stone
Columbia 4-43346
(1 week)

First time I heard Like A Rolling Stone it was coming out of the speakers on the wall of Square Records on Public Square, the center of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Stopped me in my tracks. I knew it was Dylan but it sure didn’t sound like, you know, Dylan.

Hell, it didn’t sound like anything I had ever heard before. And as idiosyncratic as the singing style appeared, it influenced a lot of people and generated other hits records, to the point where Motown had Levi Stubbs emulate Bob in their biggest hit Reach Out I’ll Be There (see the October 15, 1966, entry).

A book could be written about this record and I don’t doubt that John and Lew and I wouldn’t seriously consider it if one of us proposed it. 

John: Actually, at least one person has written a book about this record: Greil Marcus’s Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan At The Crossroads. It’s pretty good, too. But it hardly covered the whole subject. If other books have been written, I doubt they have either.

Neal: The Marcus book is twelve years old and out of print. We’re almost done with this #1 Hits of the ’60s stuff and Lew’s finished with his latest novel and you always rise to the occasion.

Lew: Any contribution I made to such a book would have to include memories of hearing this song, back to back with You Were On My Mind by We Five and Liar, Liar by the Castaways, in the fall of my sophomore year in high school. Each in its own way was a coded message to me that said, “Your parents don’t understand you. Your teachers don’t understand you. The government doesn’t understand you. But I do. And this world will someday be ours.”

In the novel Neal refers to above, my protagonist, listening to HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED for the first time, talks about Dylan’s voice, “like something he used to know and had forgotten. The voice of somebody too clever for his own good, hurt and lonely and rejecting before he was rejected. Like looking in a mirror and seeing somebody far more mysterious than he’d ever seen there before.”

Neal: I knew I could sway (“sucker”?) you guys into at least thinking about such a project. If we should do such a book, I will prove that the Mystery Tramp is actually a manifestation of Mr.Tambourine Man.

John: I should just add that my response to hearing this for the first time (in the late ’70s, as usual) was So that’s what all the fuss is about. And then I played it again and again until I learned the lyrics. And, yeah, I knew what they meant long before I memorized them, but I’ve since forgotten.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 BarryMcGuire EveOfDestruction 600

September 25

Barry McGuire
Eve of Destruction
Dunhill D-4009
(1 week)

“The eastern world, it is exploding, violence flaring, bullets loading. You’re old enough to kill but not for voting, you don’t believe in war but what’s that gun you’re toting? And even the Jordan River has bodies floating. But you tell me over and over and over again, my friend, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

If these opening lines failed to attract any Top 40 radio listener’s attention, the singer’s rasping voice, horrified and outraged, got them to pay attention. While it’s easy to assume that “the eastern world” refers to Vietnam, that war was hardly talked about in 1965 and when it was, the overwhelming majority of Americans believed it was a “just cause” as it would keep the gooks out of San Francisco and the Commies from polluting our precious bodily fluids. (We were saving that for the Capitalists.)

This record may actually have caused a few of them—at least the younger ones—to rethink that position. 

Lew: It seems almost laughable now that the world really is ending—Trump’s war on blacks, Latinos, women, and immigrants; climate change; ISIS; economic collapse—to look back on a cri de coeur like Eve Of Destruction. But, as Dave Mason said, “at the time I really felt that way.”

My generation grew up under what seemed a very real threat of nuclear war—nobody had had arsenals of atomic weapons before, so nobody knew if we were going to survive. The Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK, and the Vietnam War made all of us feel like our lives were at risk.

Neal: Lew, I think our generation lived through the eve of destruction and now we’re living in the dawn of the dead. When this record was #1, there were people suggesting Governor Reagan of California for President. Hard to believe that the leaders of the Rep*blican Party of the ’60s considered him a rightwing extremist and therefore, ahem, unelectable.

But then that was before the escalation of the war, the protests, and demonstrations, the GOP adopting the so-called Southern Strategy and white supremacists, Watergate, the Evangelicals adopting the GOP, et al.

Back to the record: Eve Of Destruction was originally written by Sloane for the Turtles as a follow-up to their first big hit, It Ain’t Me Babe. The group didn’t see Eve Of Destruction as a single but included it on their first album earlier in ’65. 

John: The Turtles’ response to Eve Of Destruction, at least as they told the story later, was on the order of “Okay, it will be a monster hit. But then what?” They couldn’t imagine a followup. It may have been a case of hindsight being 20/20, but, if that was their thought process, they were right.

They had hits straight through the ’60s. Barry McGuire was the definition of a one-hit-wonder. What a hit, though. I named it my favorite one-hit wonder of all time on my blog a while back.

Lew: As Neal said earlier, the one-two punch of Like A Rolling Stone and Eve Of Destruction, following Mr. Tambourine Man in July and the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Do You Believe In Magic in August, ushered in a new genre of music, folk-rock, which (if memory serves) John Sebastian once called “a sort of American armed response to the British Invasion.”

Let us also not overlook the pummeling power of the 12-string guitar on this song, or McGuire’s virtuoso singing, or the great melody and brainy lyrics of the P. F. Sloane source material.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 McCoys HangOnSloopy 600

October 2

The McCoys
Hang On Sloopy
Bang B-506
(1 week)

The backing track to Hang On Sloopy was recorded by Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer, who recorded as the Strangeloves, It was meant for the follow-up single to their big hit, the irrepressible I Want Candy. But they gave the track to the McCoys who added the vocals and took it to the top of the charts!

Feldman, Goldstein, and Gottehrer had written and produced a previous #1 record, the Angels’ My Boyfriend’s Back (see the September 7, 1963, entry).

Later in the year, the Ramsey Lewis Trio had a Top 20 hit with a jazzy piano version of Hang On Sloopy while Little Caesar & the Consuls reached the Top 60 with their uncategorizable reading of (My Girl) Sloopy.

The McCoys’ second record was a rocking version of Little Willie John’s 1956 hit Fever. This was actually a medley of Fever and Turn On Your Lovelight done in a style very reminiscent of their first single and it reached the Top 10 later in ’65. But by the end of ’66, the McCoys had trouble getting their records played on AM radio.

Lew: It was decades later before I learned that Hang On Sloopy was actually a cover song, originally performed by the Vibrations as My Girl Sloopy. I have the highest regard for the McCoys (whose lead guitarist and singer Rick Zehringer would change his last name to Derringer and have huge success both as a solo artist and with the Winter brothers), but Hang On Sloopy is a textbook case of the contrast between R&B (loose, swinging, soulful, a little dangerous) and pop (tight, clean, safe).

John: A swinging monument of-and-to White Boy Stomp, a concept that was tied up with Europe’s 500-year winning streak, just then reaching a crisis of conscience. It won’t surprise me if Rick’s scream in the bridge turns out to be the exact turning point—after which Western Civilization was forced to start playing prevent defense. It’s that exciting, that addictive, and that vacuous. If it didn’t happen here, it was on a Tommy James record.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Beatles Yesterday PS EC 600

Medium 45 1965 Beatles Yesterday 600

October 9–October 16

The Beatles
Yesterday
Capitol 5498
(3 weeks)

Yesterday was first issued in early August 1965 in the UK as just another track on the Beatles’ fifth album HELP! But the albums that Capitol issued in the US with the same title as their British counterparts often had very different track line-ups. In the US version of HELP!, Yesterday was one of seven Beatles recordings replaced by instrumental music from the movie by soundtrack composer Ken Thorne.

In early September, Capitol issued Yesterday backed with Act Naturally, another track removed from the British album. It leaped to the top of the charts! After two weeks at #1, Yesterday was bumped out of the top spot but returned on October 30, 1965. It spent one more week as the nation’s best-selling record for a total of three weeks at #1.

Lew: A Paul McCartney solo record under the Beatles’ name. Less than two years into their worldwide success, the band was already starting to come apart.

Neal: Yesterday went on to become one of the most recorded songs in history. My second favorite version (other than the Fab Four’s) was Elvis Presley’s live version from his 1969 engagement in Las Vegas.

John: Speaking of vacuous (as I did in my comment about the McCoys’ Hang On Sloopy above): I always thought McCartney could have stuck with his original title “Scrambled Eggs” until I heard Smokey Robinson render it profound on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968.

Neal: While I loved Smokey gritty R&B singer of the ’50s and early ’60s and Smokey the soul and pop singer of the later ’60s, I cringe whenever I hear Smokey the overwrought Vegas singer. But if you like this Smokey, check out the 2006 movie Last Holiday with Queen Latifah; Smokey does a reading of Tears Of A Clown that owes more to Whitney Houston and Celine Dion than to any of the R&B sources that inspired the song fifty years ago.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (October 20, 1965)
• Accumulated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Toys ALoversConcerto 600

October 23

The Toys
A Lover’s Concerto
DynoVoice 209
(1 week)

The groovy sound of this record was the work of producer Charles Calello working out of Olmstead Recording Studio in New York City. Calello also recorded the Four Seasons’ Let’s Hang On and Lou Christie’s Lightnin’ Strikes at the same place. As the former was a #1 record later in ’65 and the latter a #1 record in ’66, it has me wondering why the studio doesn’t have a better historical reputation.

Lew: The great melody here is swiped from the Minuet In G major, originally attributed to J. S. Bach, now believed to have been written by Christian Petzold. It was schlocky big-band leader Freddy Martin who first turned the minuet into a pop song in the 1940s, though Martin’s version does not seem to be available anymore.

The fact that Martin’s version was also called A Lover’s Concerto suggests that songwriters Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell got their “inspiration” from Martin rather than a Bach exercise book as has been claimed. Compare with another classical swipe, Allan Sherman’s Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh! which topped the chart in August of 1963.

Here, lead singer Barbara Harris really takes the vocal into the stratosphere, staying just this side of shrill.

Neal: Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell also had a hand in writing another chart-topping hit this year, the aforementioned Let’s Hang On!

John: A great example of a record that matters for how it sounds. I’ve probably heard it several hundred times and the only words I know are “How gentle is the rain?” After that, I just make noises in the key-of-Barbara-Harris and smile along.

Lew: My great friend Paul Williams (of Crawdaddy fame) once said something to the effect of: “It isn’t even that important what the words say. The real meaning is in the guitars and drums, the way a record sounds. It’s a feeling that’s bigger than words could ever be.”

John: Here, as elsewhere, Paul Williams knew what he was about!

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (December 7, 1965)
• Accumulated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Beatles Yesterday 600

October 30

The Beatles
Yesterday
Capitol 5498
(1 week)
This record spent two weeks at #1 on October 9–October 16, 1965, for a total of three weeks at the top. Refer to that date for more information.

 

Medium 45 1965 Rolling Stones GetOffOfMyCloud PS 600

Medium 45 1965 RollingStones GetOffOfMyCloud 600 1

November 6–November 13

The Rolling Stones
Get Off Of My Cloud
London 45-9792
(2 weeks)

According to Mick Jagger, this song was a “stop-bugging-me, post-teenage-alienation song. The grown-up world was a very ordered society in the ’60s, and I was coming out of it. America was even more ordered than anywhere else. I found it was a very restrictive society in thought and behavior and dress.”

But according to Keith Richards, it was a “knee-jerk reaction” and the Stones’ response to people asking for a follow-up to Satisfaction. Instead of saying, “Go away!” they said, “Get off of my cloud!” (SongFacts)

Both make sense.

Lew: I was never that much of a Charlie Watts fan, but his over-the-top drumming completely sells this song, probably my favorite Stones single.

Neal: In the disappointing 2009 movie The Boat That Rocked (released as Pirate Radio in the US), there is a scene where legendary British disc-jockey Kevin Kavanagh (Rhys Ifans) relates an anecdote about how he once tried to seduce a beautiful woman by emulating Mick Jagger and dancing to Get Off Of My Cloud playing on a jukebox in a Third World bar. Three things you should know about this scene:

It’s the best scene in the movie.
It was cut from the final version of the movie.
The movie should have been about Kevin Kavanagh.

John: After this one, Beelzebub sent a note: “We’ll talk again in ’68. After you give me Brian Jones.”

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Supremes IHearASymphony 600

November 20

The Supremes
I Hear A Symphony
Motown M-1083
(1 week)

This was the sixth chart-topping single in eighteen months for the Supremes. According to songwriter-producer Lamont Dozier: “I used to go to the movies and I would see that the main stars had their own theme songs. When they appeared on the screen, you would hear this melody behind them.

So the lyrics, ‘Whenever you are near, I hear a symphony,’ it was about this guy. Whenever he came around, in her mind she got this feeling and she heard this melody. He brought out the music in her.” (SongFacts)

Some songwriters hear a concerto, others a symphony. When we’re lucky, they turn that into a hit record and we all share in the joy of the new music.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 LenBarry 1 2 3 600

November 27

Len Barry
1-2-3
Decca 31827
(1 week)

Len Barry is the former lead singer for the Dovells who were best known for the dance hits Bristol Stomp and You Can’t Sit Down. As a solo artist, Barry reached the top with the old-fashioned 1-2-3, which featured a title we would come to associate with bubblegum records in 1968 but sounded like a black soul record in 1965.

Lew: Neal and I had our first bonding moment, as we were just getting to know each other, over Len Barry. This is a great song and really holds up over the years. The record has a unique sound—a combination of Barry’s voice (getting into Frankie Valli territory), the echo on it, and the Spectorish orchestration—that immediately draws you in.

Neal: And that bonding for the two of us old farts was as easy as, well, 1-2-3. (Although I am amazed you can remember that—it was, like, months ago!) Lew and I are in accord on so many issues and tastes that each was thinking the other was putting him on with all the agreements and similarities. Now we look for things on which to disagree, like Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter and the Beatles’ second movie.

John: This is such a fine and convincing “blue-eyed soul” record it often shows up on ’60s soul comps that ignore even the Righteous Brothers and the Rascals!

Neal: According to one of the song’s writers, John Madara: “We were sued by Motown when Berry Gordy was suing anyone whose records sounded like a Motown record. [They were] saying that 1-2-3 was taken from a B-side of a Supremes record called Ask Any Girl. The only similarity between the two songs are the first three notes where the Supremes sang ‘Ask any girl’ and Lenny sang ‘1-2-3.’

“Their lawsuit said that our goal was to copy the Motown sound [and they] kept us in court, tying up all of our writers’ royalties, production royalties, and publishing royalties. So after battling with them for two years and having a ton of legal bills, we made a settlement with Motown, giving them 15% of the writers’ and publishers’ share.” (SongFacts)

According to the Murrells book, 1-2-3 sold 1,500,000 copies in the US. This is more than I would have guessed since Decca didn’t submit it for an RIAA Gold Record Award, which would have been a big deal for Barry’s career at that time. But I can see how the lawsuit might have restrained Decca from wanting Motown to know actual sales figures and income from the record.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 Byrds TurnTurnTurn 600

December 4

The Byrds
Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)
Columbia 4-43424
(1 week)

According to Pete Seeger, his publisher informed him that he could no longer sell the protest songs that Seeger wrote. Pete replied, “I can’t write the kind of songs you want. You gotta go to somebody else. This is the only kind of song I know how to write.” Seeger had been reading the Bible and was taken by a passage in the book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) and wrote it down.

He took this passage, tweaked it to his needs, improvised a melody, and called it Turn! Turn! Turn! He sent it off to the publisher, who replied, “Wonderful! Just what I’m looking for.” Within two months, the publisher had sold the song to the Limeliters. (SongFacts)

The song was recorded by the Limeliters in 1962 and appeared on their Folk Matinée. Jim McGuinn liked the song and gave it a new arrangement for inclusion on Judy Collins third album in 1963, upon which he played acoustic 12-string guitar.

As a member of the Byrds, McGuinn suggested it as a single that wasn’t written by Dylan. He wrote another arrangement for the group and the Byrds had their second chart-topper in less than twelve months.

John: You could quibble about whether Eve Of Destruction was an anti-war record. There’s no doubt about “A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” Knowing he would have to depend for shock troops on the very demographic that put this record on top, LBJ should have listened. He didn’t.

The arrangement was and is unearthly. More poignant by the year because you can hear a better world being summoned and know that world never arrived.

Neal: By the time this record was on its last legs on the Top 100, Gene Clark had written and the Byrds had recorded Eight Miles High. As the group’s first new single of 1966, many people thought it was a surefire #1 record. It didn’t get close, but that’s another story.

By the way, whenever I am listening to the Byrds’ recording of Turn! Turn! Turn! I think it’s the most perfect record ever made.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 FourSeasons LetsHangOn 600

December 11

The Four Seasons
Let’s Hang On
Philips 40317
(1 week)

Let’s Hang On! was written by producer Bob Crewe with Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, the latter two having written another #1 record this year, the Toys’ A Lover’s Concerto (see the October 23, 1965, entry).

The groovy sound of this record was the work of producer Charles Calello working out of Olmstead Recording Studio in New York City. Calello also recorded the Toys’ hit and Lou Christie’s Lightnin’ Strikes at the same place. As the former was a #1 record earlier in ’65 and the latter a #1 record in ’66, it has me wondering why the studio doesn’t have a greater historical reputation.

Let’s Hang On! was the Four Seasons’ fifth chart-topper. It was also their last, although Frankie Valli would hit #1 as a solo artist with Can’t Take My Eyes Off You in 1967.

John: I find it interesting that, in the year when “political consciousness” broke out, the Four Seasons were the only act to put working-class realism on top of the charts. It isn’t as overt as Dawn (Go Away) or even Rag Doll, but it’s still clear that a working stiff is having a hard time hanging on to his significant other because he doesn’t have the dough . . . or at least thinks he doesn’t, which amounts to the same thing.

Lew: Bravo, John! Well put.

Neal: Believe it or not, in 1966 the Four Seasons lent this song and their talents and did a television commercial for Beechnut Peppermint Gum!

John: The peppermint gum of the working man!

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 HerbAlpert TasteOfHoney600

December 18

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
Taste Of Honey
A&M 775
(1 week)

Herb Alpert had been around for years as a trumpet player and singer but only enjoyed any success as a songwriter, having a hand in the hits Baby Talk for Jan & Dean and Wonderful World for Sam Cooke. Then he came upon the idea of recording Mariachi-flavored pop music with local studio musicians, whom he dubbed the Tijuana Brass. 

John: Now this is a record that could have been a big hit before 1955.

Lew: Yet I don’t think it would have been a hit—certainly not as big a one—without the Wrecking Crew playing backup.

John: True, but I think that just proves the Wrecking Crew really could do anything!

Neal: While Alpert was only modestly successful as a Top 40 singles artist, he was probably second only to the Beatles in albums sold in the ’60s! WHIPPED CREAM & OTHER DELIGHTS was the biggest selling album of 1965, selling on a par with 1964’s MEET THE BEATLES! Both albums were among the very biggest selling albums of all time—prior to the explosion of record sales in the 1970s.

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes (Lifetime Achievement in Non-Performer Category)
• Grammy Award: Record of the Year 1965
• Grammy Award: Best Instrumental Performance – Non-Jazz 1965
• Grammy Award: Best Instrumental Arrangement 1965
• Grammy Award: Best Engineered Recording – Non-Classical 1965

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1965 DaveClarkFive OverAndOver PC 600

Medium 45 1965 DaveClark5 OverAndOver 600

December 25

The Dave Clark Five
Over And Over
Epic 5-9863
(1 week)

The Dave Clark Five were relatively successful in their native UK with four Top 10 hits in 1963-1965. But in the US it was a different story: As part of the British Invasion of 1964, they were second only to the Beatles. On Cash Box, the DC5 had six sides make the Top 10 in 1964, with three more in ’65.

Over And Over was the group’s only US chart-topper and it marked the beginning of the end of their singles automatically being hits on this side of the Atlantic. After this one, they would see one more Top 10 hit before being all but forgotten by Top 40 radio.

Lew: Not a lot of bands took their name from the drummer, but in this case, Clark was also the producer, songwriter, and very much the leader. However, even at the time, rumors circulated that he was not playing drums on the records.

Session drummer Bobby Graham, who claims to have played on 15,000 records, including You Really Got Me by the Kinks and Gloria by Them, says, “I was on a lot of the hits but Dave did play on album tracks.”

Certainly, the drumming on Over And Over—like on their previous top-ten hit, Catch Us If You Can from August (and which should have been the #1 record instead of Over And Over)—was a major part of the appeal of the song.

Neal: The original version of Over And Over was the flip-side of Bobby Day’s big hit of 1958, Rockin’ Robin. Bobby Day was the stage name for Robert James Byrd, who was all over the R&B map in the ’50s. Byrd wrote and cut the original version of Little Bitty Pretty One as Bobby Day. It went nowhere, but when it was recorded by Thurston Harris, he took it to the Top 10 in late 1957.

As one of two known fans of Zal Yanovsky’s possibly bloody brilliant first and only 1968 solo album, ALIVE AND WELL IN ARGENTINA, I would be truly remiss if I failed to mention his demented version of Little Bitty Pretty One. (Next time you have friends over and you’re all high, play this one loud and watch the consternation as your friends try to figure out if this record really sounds like this or they’re so stoned they’re just hearing it wrong.)

John: This is the only one of the DC5’s many big hits I don’t much care for. Naturally, it’s their only American #1. It’s unredeemed for me even by their usual mighty strengths: the drumming (whoever did it) and Mike Smith’s powerhouse vocals. It’s not terrible, but, to quote Elvis: “It just don’t move me.”

• Billboard Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew : ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

The Beatles’ ‘I Feel Fine’ was the biggest hit of 1965 on the Cash Box Top 100. Find the other big hits of the year here! Click To Tweet

Byrds Hullabaloo 1965 1000

FEATURED ARTIST: After making Bob Dylan a household name by taking Mr. Tambourine Man to the toppermost of the poppermost. The five original members made what was arguably the most glorious music of 1965, notably their two chart-topping singles, Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn! Most of the sides they recorded that year can be found on their first two albums, both named after the hit singles.

Then they settled into figuring out numerous ways to undermine their success and the ensuing internal dissension ranked with that of the Beach Boys. The article “The Byrds: Surviving TV Appearance 1965–1991” on the Alan’s Album Archives website lists all know extant videos of the Byrds with commentary. Much of the commentary on the group 1965–1968 mentions the friction among the members.

By early 1966, the Byrds were a quartet and while they continued to make great records, they never approached the success of their first year. By 1968, McGuinn and Hillman were the only remaining members and they were effectively functioning as Gram Parsons’ sidemen on the SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO project.

Year-end observations

Thirty-one records reached #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart in 1965. Here is the breakdown of #1 records based on how many weeks they spent at the top of the chart:

8 weeks: 0
7 weeks: 0
6 weeks: 0
5 weeks: 0
4 weeks: 3
3 weeks: 2
2 weeks: 7
1 week: 19

Million-sellers: 31
RIAA Gold Records: 10

If 1964 was the year of the British Invasion, then 1965 was the year of the British Beachhead. Groups and solo artists from across the pond established themselves as something much more than a fad. (I know: I should write an article about the so-called British Invasion and explain the difference between invasion and beachhead and occupation. Someday I just might.)

Top 40 radio continued, if in not quite as dramatic and overwhelming a manner. Whereas the Beatles had taken six sides to the top spot of the Cash Box Top 100 for twenty-one weeks, this year it was only five records at #1 for a mere thirteen weeks.

Other English artists continued to do well: Petula Clark, Herman’s Hermits, Freddie & the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, the Stones, and the Dave Clark Five.

Motown got even bigger: the Supremes reached #1 three times, and the Four Tops’ years of gigging and recording finally paid off with their first chart-topper.

American chart-toppers were Gary Lewis & the Playboys, the Beach Boys, Sonny & Cher, the McCoys, the Toys, and the Four Seasons.

Gold Record Awards

Of the thirty-one records that reached #1, Joseph Murrells lists thirty-one of them as million-sellers. Record companies sought certification from the RIAA for official Gold Record Awards for ten singles.

RIAA certification rate: 3%

 


 

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