Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.
Hello folks! It’s Retro Dee, and here is Part 2 of my Favorite Songs of the 1960’s.
As I noted in Part 1, most Oldies stations, shows and album compilations define the “Malt Shop” era to be from 1954 (the dawn of Rock n Roll) to 1963 (just before the British Invasion.) Certainly by 1964, you’ll notice music underwent a big change as new styles of music began to take over.
Here is the second half of my 10 Favorite songs of the early 1960’s, in the order of when I first heard them.
“The Wah Watusi” (1961) The Orlons
I first heard this song on The Grooveyard, and I was aware of its slight difference in sound from the 1950’s. I didn’t think much of it at first, but then it started to grow on me. Like most of the dance craze songs, it’s fun and catchy. I can’t dance, so I have no idea how the dance even goes, I just go by how much I enjoy the song. On a slow day, hearing “The Wah Watusi” usually picks me up. In my book, that’s a good enough reason to add it to my favorites.
“Walk Right Back” (1961) The Everly Brothers
At this point I’m like “Oh, Don and Phil, what kept you?” But when I first heard this song on Direct TV’s Malt Shop Favorites in 2017, I’d never heard it before in my life. I think this is the song that put me over the top as an Everly Brothers fan. I found myself singing along with it one day, and I didn’t even realize that I knew the words. It was the kind of brainwashed you feel when you first fall in love (for lack of a better way to describe it.)
At any rate, this song has an air of sophistication (which is probably from the effects of Don and Phil’s natural talent) and yet it still leaves plenty of room for fangirl swooning. When I found out that it was written by Buddy Holly’s close friend musician and songwriter Sonny Curtis, I was sold for life.
“The Bristol Stomp” (1961) The Dovells
Here’s another dance craze song where I have no idea what the actual dance is like, but I sure dig the song! I liked this song right away after hearing it on The Grooveyard. It definitely has that classic Malt Shop era sound, which is probably why I love it so.
Anyway, apparently there was a dance called “The Stomp” that kids were doing in Bristol, Pennsylvania and that’s what this song is about. I was born in PA and I have no idea where Bristol even is. But that doesn’t matter. It’s a fun song. Enough said.
“Poetry In Motion” (1960) Johnny Tillotson
I first heard this from a compilation called “Jukebox Giants” which has a collection of 120 Oldies on 4 disks. At first I wasn’t all that impressed, then I realized what a great song it is. I like how it starts off slow, then really gets going. It’s got that fun-and-romantic all rolled into one formula going. It’s another song where I wondered: “It’s just one year off from the 50’s, can I still count it as a 50’s favorite?” No, but this is my 60’s list, so here it is. 🙂
“New Orleans” (1960) Gary US Bonds
This song is different from the others on this list because it possesses a level of sophistication that the others don’t. It’s a song that transcends time and can still be listened to today without sounding “dated”. I recently discovered it, after bypassing it for a few years and not really paying attention. It’s not just “a fun song”; it’s a great piece of music. For sure not your average Malt Shop hit, “New Orleans” is not one that readily conjures up ideas of teenage romance in the good ole days… but in this case that’s a compliment.
“Tell Him” (1963) The Exciters
I recently began to really like this song, although I admit that I’m not much of a fan of the ubiquitous pop-group sound that took over in the early 60’s. However, this song has a great music arrangement, in addition to its catchy chorus. It’s simple, yet not. The somewhat foreboding melody of the instrumental segment contrasts with the upbeat singers line. I vaguely remember hearing this song at some point- it’s definitely not completely new to me. I’m just now starting to really come to enjoy it.
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