1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 900 to 891
Fleeple, Bingo, Drooper, and Snorky make the scene.
900. “Na Na, Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” Steam. Songwriters: Paul Leka, Gary DeCarlo, Dale Frashuer; #1; 1969. The origin of our popular culture’s favorite kiss off chant started in 1961, when a Connecticut band named The Chateaus had an unfinished song titled “Kiss Him Goodbye.” Paul Leka of The Chateaus later co-wrote The Lemon Pipers hit “The Green Tambourine” and he used that success as leverage to release singles for his former bandmate Gary DeCarlo. Needing a b-side, the studio musicians quickly rewrote “Kiss Him Goodbye,” adding the legendary “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye” chant to lengthen the composition. After the song became a hit, a band named Steam was created, predating Milli Vanilli by almost two decades, to promote the record. Gary DeCarlo found great frustration in the fact that he was never credited for singing this #1 pop hit, but the music industry simply told him “na na na na…”.
899. “Undun,” The Guess Who. Songwriter: Randy Bachman; #22 pop; 1969. The Guess Who evolved from a Winnipeg band that started as Chad Allen and the Silvertones in 1958. The band underwent several name changes with “Guess Who?” originally being used as a marketing ploy to build intrigue around a single. For better or worse, the name stuck and the band had a 1965 #1 hit in Canada with their cover of Johnny Kidd’s “Shakin’ All Over.” Randy Bachman, later of Bachman Turner Overdrive, and lead singer Burton Cummings became the major creative forces for The Guess Who as they became a major commercial act in Canada and the U.S. during the late 1960s and early 1970s. “Undun” is notable for the jazz structure of the song, both in its chord structure and in Burton Cummings’ flute solo. Dion DiMucci had a surprising impact on the composition. Bachman, “I got a guitar part from a Dion song called ‘Soft Guitar’ written by singer/songwriter Kenny Rankin and sung by Dion. It’s a cool little turn-around two chord pattern that I used at the end of the verses of ‘Undun.’”
898. “I Need Your Lovin’,” Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford. Songwriters: Don Gardner , Bobby Robinson, James McDougal & Clarence Lewis; #20 pop/#4 R&B; 1962. Philadelphia native Don Gardner started working as a musician during his teens in the 1940s and formed a band named The Sonotones in 1953. Wrecial Holloway joined Gardner’s band in 1960, bringing her background in church music and taking the stage name Dee Dee Ford. “I Need Your Lovin’,” described by Tony Wilkinson as “R&B gospel drenched call and response sounds,” was the type of hard hitting R&B that had been popularized by Ike and Tina Turner. The duo had another Top Ten R&B hit in 1962 with “Don’t You Worry” and Dee Dee penned Betty Lavette’s classic 1965 single “Let Me Down Easy.” Since the mid-1980s, Don Gardner has been in a leadership position in the Philadelphia nonprofit Clef Club of Jazz.
897. “What a Good Man He Is,” Tammi Terrill. Songwriters: Smokey Robinson, Al Cleveland; Did Not Chart; 1967. By the time Motown released the Tammi Terrell solo single “What a Good Man He Is,” she had performed on the Top Ten Marvin Gaye duets “Your Precious Love” and “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You.” However, she also suffered an onstage collapse during the same month that “What a Good Man He Is” was released as single. She was eventually diagnosed as having a brain tumor and her physical condition may have resulted in a lack of promotion for “What a Good Man He Is,” which didn’t chart and was almost impossible to find before the digital era. The song shows a funkier and sexier side to Terrell than was heard on her mainstream duet hits. Due to Terrill’s illness, Valerie Simpson recorded most of the vocals to the 1969 “Easy” album, billed as the fourth and final Tammi Terrell/Marvin Gaye release.
896. “Valleri,” The Monkees. Songwriters: Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart; #3 pop; 1968. The Monkees didn’t form as a band in the traditional sense, they were cast as one for an NBC television program. The concept was an immediate success as their first four albums topped the charts and they released two #1 singles in 1966, “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer.” “Valleri,” written by the primary Monkees songwriting team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, was composed after Don Kirschner, the musical supervisor for the television program, requested a “girl’s name song.” Noteworthy for its booming chorus and the flamenco guitar work of Louie Shelton, “Vallerie” was the last band’s last Top Ten single.
895. “Pop a Top,” Jim Ed Brown. Songwriter: Nat Stuckey; #3 country; 1967. Jim Ed Brown and his sisters Maxine and Bonnie performed individually while growing up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. After receiving radio exposure, Jim Ed and Maxine scored a Top Ten country hit with “Looking Back to See” in 1954. As a trio, The Browns took the saccharine “The Three Bells” to #1 on the pop and country charts in 1959. Jim Ed Brown started a solo career in 1965 and “Pop a Top” became his signature song. This Nat Stuckey composition mixed country’s two biggest themes, heartbreak and alcohol, but the big hook was the aluminum pop tab sound effect. Alan Jackson returned “Pop a Top” back to the country Top Ten in 2000 with his faithful recreation.
894. “Wait Till Tomorrow,” The Banana Splits. Songwriters: Ritchie Adams, Mark Barkan; Did Not Chart; 1968. The television program The Banana Splits brought the acid generation to children’s television. The characters performed in adult sized animal costumes and the television program was a combination of live action, animation, rock music, and psychedelic imagery. The Splits didn’t have the commercial radio success of other manufactured bands of their era, only hitting the charts once, with “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Bananas)” peaking at #96. That tune was covered by the U.S. comedy punk band The Dickies, resulting in a U.K. Top Ten single in 1979. “Wait Till Tomorrow” sounds like a bubblegum version of The Left Banke, a concept the world wasn’t pining for at the time. Songwriter Ritchie Adams also has credits on the Bobby Lewis hit “Tossin’ and Turnin’” and Engelbert Humperdinck’s “After the Lovin’.”
893. “Time Won’t Let Me,” The Outsiders. Songwriters: Tom King, Chet Kelly; #5 pop; 1966. The Outsiders formed in Cleveland in 1958, using the name The Starfires. The band recorded “Time Won’t Let Me” in the fall of 1965 and hustled to get the song on the airwaves. Bassist Mert Madsen, “We could sense that this was not just any tune, but a tune with great hit potential. We contacted the East Coast Manager for Capitol Records, Roger Karhsner, and played the master record for him over the phone. The rest is history. All the guys on the record made up their own parts music ways and I arranged the background singers. The horns were added on afterwards.” “Time Won’t Let Me,” a smooth combination of garage rock and R&B influences, gave The Outsiders their only Top Ten single. Lead singer Sonny Geraci was later the vocalist on the 1972 #3 pop hit “Precious and Few” by Climax.
892. “Wipe Out,” The Surfaris. Songwriters: Bob Berryhill, Pat Connolly, Jim Fuller, Ron Wilson; #2 pop; 1963. “Wipe Out” is one of the definitive instrumental songs of the 1960s. In fact, it was a hit on two occasions, reaching #2 on the charts in 1963 and #16 in 1966. The Surfaris were comprised of Southern California teenagers who quickly recorded “Wipe Out” as a b-side, tossing in gimmicky sounds of breaking plasterboard and producer Dale Smallin’s cackling intro laugh as a lark. Ron Wilson was a high school marching band percussionist and utilized a typical football game drum cadence for the famous solo breaks. Rhythm guitarist Bob Berryhill, “The key to surf bands in those days was to have lots of drum solos. And Ronnie was a perfect showman. Or, a ham, let’s say.”
891. “You’re A Wonderful One,” Marvin Gaye. Songwriters: Holland/Dozier/Holland; #15 pop/#3 R&B; 1964. Chuck Berry never had a hit single with “Memphis, Tennessee,” his version was released as the b-side to “Back in the U.S.A.” The song became an instrumental hit for Lonnie Mack in 1963 and a #2 pop hit for Johnny Rivers in 1964. The Funk Brothers used the chord structure from “Memphis” and The Supremes provided backing vocals for Marvin Gaye’s “You’re a Wonderful One.” Here’s a good place to drop this Lamont Dozier quote, “We wrote for girls, meaning that girls bought all the records, basically. If we could get their ears and get them interested, and woo them with some ‘ear candy,’ then we’d get over.”