1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 720 to 711
720. “(I’ve) Got a Right to Love My Baby,” B.B. King. Songwriters: B.B. King, Sam Ling (Saul Bahari); #8 R&B; 1960. B.B. King wasn’t widely known outside of blues circles in 1960, he wouldn’t reach a broader audience until releasing the 1965 “Live at the Regal” album and after American blues music was heralded by British invasion musicians. However, he regularly scored R&B hits and relentlessly toured. His 1960 single “Got a Right to Love My Baby” was more commercial R&B for its era than Delta blues – that is to say, closer on the spectrum to Bobby Bland than Robert Johnson. B.B. King’s woman serves as a doctor, lawyer, faithful companion, faithful servant, and personal toy on this Top Ten R&B hit. This was not the era of enlightenment.
719. “Kay,” John Wesley Ryles. Songwriter: Hank Mills; #83 pop/#9 country; 1968. John Wesley Ryles started performing with his family as a child and regularly appeared on Fort Worth and Dallas radio programs. His family relocated to Nashville in 1965 and Ryles became a solo act. “Kay” brought an element of confessional singer songwriter to late 1960’s country radio with a story about a man who relocates to help his woman succeed in Music City. She goes on tour and he’s left driving a cab, experiencing some of the worst parts of society and urban decay. “Kay” was written by Hank Mills, a pseudonym for Samuel Garrett, who also had writing credits on the Del Reeves hit “Girl on the Billboard” and Dean Martin’s “Little Old Wine Drinker Me.” Ryles had eleven Top 40 country hits from 1969 to 1987 and later worked as a demo singer and session musician.
718. “Linus and Lucy,” Vince Guaraldi Trio. Songwriter: Vince Guaraldi, Did Not Chart; 1965. California jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi started his recording career as a sideman in 1953 and became the leader of his first jazz trio in 1955. He worked in obscurity until his 1963 single “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” became a surprise hit, peaking at #22 on the pop charts. He was contacted to provide music for an animated “Peanuts” cartoon special and his first submission was “Linus and Lucy,” a playful number that evolved into the de facto “Peanuts” theme song. Due to its inclusion in the 1965 animated special “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Linus and Lucy” has become a perennial favorite on Christmas music formats. Guaraldi continued to write music for the “Peanuts” franchise until his untimely death in 1976. He died of heart issues after a performance at the age of 47.
717. “A Thousand Stars,” Kathy Young with The Innocents. Songwriter: Eugene Pearson; #3 pop/#6 R&B; 1960. “A Thousand Stars” was originally performed by the New York vocal group The Rivileers as a criminally under-produced doo wop ballad in 1954. Producer Jim Lee paired the California group The Innocents with high school student Kathy Young for the 1960 hit version. Young’s voice wasn’t particularly impressive, but her youth did help sell the naive romantic overstatement of the lyrics. Young, “I went from being a fourteen-year-old girl in the 9th grade in high school to overnight being a star on ‘American Bandstand.’ I was Cinderella. I went from one thing to another in a matter of weeks.” During the late 1960s, Young lived in the U.K. as the wife of John Walker (John Maus) of The Walker Brothers.
716. “Mountain of Love,” Harold Dorman. Songwriter: Harold Dorman; #21 pop; #7 R&B; 1960. Harold Dorman was born in Drew, Mississippi, the same small town that gave the world Pops Staples, and recorded in Memphis after leaving the Army in 1955. “Mountain of Love” became a regional hit and later strings were added to the record for its national push. Dorman may have looked like a door to door vacuum cleaner salesman and the song is pure cheese, but its tasty cheese. The Replacements later borrowed the melody from “Mountain of Love” for the bridge of their 1985 song “Waitress in the Sky.” “Mountain of Love” returned to the pop charts as a Top Ten single for Johnny Rivers in 1964 and Dorman changed his focus to country music, co-writing the 1974 Charley Pride #3 country hit “Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town.”
715. “Girls Are Out to Get You,” The Fascinations. Songwriter: Curtis Mayfield; #92 pop/#13 R&B; 1967. Curtis Mayfield was so prolific during the 1960s that he was not only the creative force for The Impressions, but he also wrote hits for Jerry Butler, Jan Bradley, Gene Chandler, Major Lance, Billy Butler, The Five Stairsteps, and The Fascinations. You could say he was the 1960s pop/R&B equivalent as a songwriter/producer as Prince was to the 1980s. The girl group The Fascinations started as The Sabra-ettes and originally included Martha Reeves in their ranks. They started recording in 1962, but had a hiatus for several years, until Mayfield started his Mayfields Record label in 1966. “Girls Are Out to Get You” is swinging Chicago soul with lyrics about the pitfalls of romance. The Fascinations never had a major U.S. hit but toured England in 1971 when this song hit the U.K. pop charts through its Northern soul scene popularity.
714. “Blue Moon,” The Marcels. Songwriters: Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart; #1 pop/#1 R&B; 1961. The Marcels were an integrated Pittsburgh vocal group who topped the charts with their bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom cover of “Blue Moon,” a Rodgers and Hart number from the 1930s. Promoter Henry DeLuca on this pre-civil rights era act, “The fact that they were racially mixed caused a lot of problems. They couldn’t tour down South that way, and had to go with an all-black lineup.” Performed as a ballad, “Blue Moon” had been a pop hit in 1949 for both Mel Tormé and Billy Eckstine. There is an urban legend that Richard Rodgers was so disdainful of The Marcels recording that he took out advertisements in music publications urging listeners not to buy it. That’s a fine/fun story, but there’s no documented reason to believe it. The Marcels hit the Top Ten again in 1961 with “Heartaches,” a momentum formula hit, and were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.
713. “Psychotic Reaction,” Count Five. Songwriters: Kenn Ellner, Roy Chaney, Craig “Butch” Atkinson, John “Sean” Byrne, John “Mouse” Michalski; #5 pop; 1966. The Count Five was a San Jose based garage rock band who heard Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man” via The Yardbirds. They rewrote “I’m a Man,” with an intense psychedelic instrumental section, as “Psychotic Reaction.” The one hit wonder act would have probably been lost to obscurity, if not for the 1971 Lester Bangs essay titled “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung,” which developed a fictional catalogue of work by the Count Five with titles including “Ancient Lace and Wrought-Iron Railings” and “Snowflakes Falling on the International Dateline.” After the band ran its course, Count Five lead singer John Byrne traded in his Dracula cape for a career as an accountant. “Psychotic Reaction” has been covered in live performances by Television, Tom Petty, and The Cramps.
712. “She’s a Woman,” Beatles. Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney; #4 pop; 1964. Paul McCartney knocked out this unconditional love song quickly and it was recorded the same day it was written. McCartney, “We always found it very hard to write the more rock ‘n ‘roll things. It seemed easy for Little Richard to knock ’em off, penny a dozen, but for us it wasn’t quite so easy, being white boys who’d not been to a gospel church in our lives. So instead of doing a Little Richard song, whom I admire greatly, I would use the style I would have used for that but put it in one of my own songs, so this was about a woman rather than a girl. Bluesy melody is quite hard to write so I was quite pleased to get that.” John Lennon, “We were so excited to say ‘turn me on’ – you know, about marijuana and all that.”
711. “Selfish One,” Jackie Ross. Songwriters: Wilfred McKinley, Carl Smith; #11 pop/#4 R&B; 1964. The daughter of two preachers, Jackie Ross performed gospel music as a child and was signed to Sam Cooke’s SAR label when she was sixteen. After moving to Chess Records, Ross had her sole Top 40 hit with “Selfish One.” For radio fans listening at the time, Ross is often associated with Mary Wells, who left Motown due to financial disputes after hitting #1 with “My Guy.” With the vocal similarities between the two women, “Selfish One” seemed to fill the void for the next Wells’ hit. Ken Shane, “Intentionally or not, it was a perfect answer for those wondering where the sound of Mary Wells had gone.” After her pop career ended, Ross returned to her roots, singing gospel music in Chicago churches.