Best Songs From 1959

By 1959, the world had enjoyed a treasure trove of various music genres, from rock and roll to blues and many in-between. This year also introduced the Grammy Awards.

If you’re interested in listening to the best songs from 1959, check out this list of our favorites.

“Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye” by Kathy Linden

Song year: 1959

Kathy Linden’s soft and serene vocals for “Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye” might resonate with music lovers looking for songs for their vintage playlists. The lyrics describe a woman bidding farewell to a guy and waiting for him to return.

Its mellow tone is the perfect song to listen to during a lazy night. It ranked 11th on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and 85th on the Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 1959 list.

“Kansas City” by Wilbert Harrison

Song year: 1959

Originally recorded by Little Willie Littlefield, Wilbert Harrison’s take on “Kansas City” incorporates a signature rock and roll sound that many late 1950s music lovers recognize. The song’s piano and guitar accompaniment give it an extra groove that resonates with anybody’s ear drums.

The lyrics tell a straightforward tale about a man eager to visit Kansas City and find a girl to love. It topped several pop and R&B charts for several weeks following its release.

“Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin

Song year: 1959

One of the best songs from 1959 that many people can’t mistake for anything else is Bobby Darin’s rendition of “Beyond the Sea,” an English version of Charles Trenet’s French song “La Mer,” which skyrocketed him onto the music scene. The jazzy orchestra gives the song a timeless sound.

This sea-centric song expresses the feeling of the narrator wishing to find or reunite with his love, regardless of the distance. Months after its release, this single ranked sixth on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Peggy Sue Got Married” by Buddy Holly

Song year: 1959

“Peggy Sue Got Married” is the sequel to Buddy Holly’s 1957 hit, “Peggy Sue.” While many good songs from 1959 incorporate a recurring theme about wanting to find a girl to love, the narrator states that the girl he wanted is now married to somebody else. Despite its bittersweet lyrics, it has an upbeat sound.

The song was posthumously released months after Holly’s death. Many other artists recorded covers of this song, including The Crickets, Rikki Henderson, and The Hollies.

“Kissin’ Time” by Bobby Rydell

Song year: 1959

Another excellent love-themed rock and roll song you should listen to when you’re feeling nostalgic is “Kissin’ Time.” This song was the first single Bobby Rydell released, jumpstarting his music career as a teen idol when he was 17. Its upbeat bassline and brass instrumentation are catchy and can put anybody in a dancing mood. It ranked 11th on the Hot 100 Chart.

“Poison Ivy” by The Coasters

Song year: 1959

The lyrics of The Coasters’ “Poison Ivy” compare a beautiful yet dangerous woman to the itchy titular plant. It has a moderate yet upbeat rock and roll tempo. Although the lyrics reference skin conditions and plants, many interpret the title as a reference to symptoms of sexually transmitted infections.

This song ranked seventh on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and topped the R&B charts. Several music groups have recorded covers of this popular song, including The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, and Redbone.

“Pink Shoe Laces” by Dodie Stevens

Song year: 1959

“Pink Shoe Laces” showcased Dodie Stevens’ vocal talent when she was 13. The drum and saxophone accompaniment give this pop song extra energy. The lyrics tell the tale of a man wearing outlandish, colorful attire who the narrator loves. His attire is so striking he’d prefer going to battle and getting buried in it.

This catchy single peaked at the third position on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and sold over a million copies. Other artists who performed notable covers of this song include The Chordettes.

“I Only Have Eyes for You” by The Flamingos

Song year: 1959

Initially written for the 1934 film Dames, The Flamingos’s rendition of “I Only Have Eyes for You” is one of the most intimate, slow love songs you could find in this period. The subdued music accompaniment and the blending of each singer’s vocals enhance this doo-wop song.

The lyrics’ message is straightforward, expressing how a person only has eyes for the one they love. It ranked 11th on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and third on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart.

“Sweeter Than You” by Ricky Nelson

Song year: 1959

If you’re in a romantic mood late at night, the best song to play to enhance your home’s ambiance is Ricky Nelson’s “Sweeter Than You,” a ballad describing a man’s devotion to the woman he loves, stating how nobody else compares to her.

It’s the type of song you’d hear when they call everyone for a slow dance on the dance floor at any wedding anniversary party. It peaked in the ninth position on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and ranked 83rd on their Songs of the Year list.

“Sweet Nothin’s” by Brenda Lee

Song year: 1959

Rockabilly music was a staple music genre of the 1950s, and this Brenda Lee song is no exception. The song’s moderate tempo and sassy lyrics about sweet talking give the song an extra edge that any teenager at the time could enjoy. She recorded this song when she was 14.

“Sweet Nothin’s” peaked in the fourth spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and the UK Singles Chart in 1960, months after its initial release.

“What’d I Say” by Ray Charles

Song year: 1959

Avid R&B fans can find plenty of good music from 1959 if they’re looking for something catchy and nostalgic. “What’d I Say” is one of Ray Charles’ most iconic singles that placed him in the mainstream spotlight. The song’s vocals have a bit of gospel-inspired inflection.

Although some radio stations refused to play the song because they deemed it too sexually charged, it topped Billboard’s R&B Singles Chart and ranked sixth on the Hot 100 Chart.

“A Big Hunk O’ Love” by Elvis Presley

Song year: 1959

Regarding 1959 music, you can’t go wrong with Elvis Presley’s rock and roll classics. “A Big Hunk O’ Love” has an upbeat tempo, emphasized by its guitar, drum, and piano accompaniment. Despite its short length, the song doesn’t overstay its welcome. This song ranked first on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart for two weeks, near the end of June.

“Sea of Love” by Phil Phillips

Song year: 1959

Another of the best songs from 1959 for the romantic types is Phil Phillips’s “Sea of Love.” He initially wrote this R&B song about a girl he loved. The lyrics are simple yet effective, beckoning the girl to come to the narrator’s side.

This song was Phillips’ one-hit wonder, topping Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and ranking second on the R&B Chart. Over the years, several artists recorded covers of this song, including Del Shannon, Marty Wilde, and The Honeydrippers.

“Don’t You Know?” by Della Reese

Song year: 1959

Regarded as one of Della Reese’s most significant hits, “Don’t You Know?” is an R&B song with a slow tempo and lovely string accompaniment, giving it an extra sentimental vibe. Its melody originates from “Musetta’s Waltz,” an aria from La Bohème.

The lyrics take the perspective of a narrator expressing her feelings towards someone she loves, even if he doesn’t know. Besides ranking second on the Hot 100 Chart and topping the R&B charts, it got nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best Female Vocalist.”

“Tallahassee Lassie” by Freddy Cannon

Song year: 1959

Featured on the album The Explosive Freddy Cannon, “Tallahassee Lassie” is another 1959 hit worth listening to at any party. This rock and roll song describes a beautiful woman who loves to dance.

This song ranked on several weekly music charts, including Billboard’s Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart. It sold over a million copies, making it one of Freddy Cannon’s greatest hits. Notable covers of this song include Flamin’ Groovies’ rendition in 1972 and Hep Stars’ cover in 1965.

“A Teenager in Love” by Dion and the Belmonts

“A Teenager in Love” by Dion and the Belmonts

Song year: 1959

Dion and the Belmonts’ “A Teenage in Love” is a laid-back yet catchy doo-wop song with a mellow guitar backing track. Many of the song’s lyrics reflect the feelings a teenager experiences while growing up, from the ups and downs of a relationship to daily mood shifts, enhancing its relatability to teens back in the day and now.

It ranked in the Top Five of Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and 28th on the UK Singles Chart. Many artists recorded covers of this song, including The Fleetwoods in 1961.

“Venus” by Frankie Avalon

Song year: 1959

Frankie Avalon’s “Venus” was one of his first major hits on the music scene. This mellow pop song tells the story of a man asking the titular goddess of love to send him a girl who loves him unconditionally. Anybody who’s craved love might relate to this song. Following its release, it topped Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart for five weeks.

“He’ll Have to Go” by Jim Reeves

Song year: 1959

Jim Reeves’ “He’ll Have to Go” is a slow yet beautiful country and pop song ideal for listening to on a warm, lonely night. The lyrics tell the tale of a man talking to his wife on the phone, asking her if she genuinely loves him since he suspects she’s with another man.

It ranked second on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and topped the international singles charts in Australia, Norway, and Canada.

“What Am I Living For” by Ernest Tubb

Song year: 1959

Ernest Tubb’s country rendition of “What Am I Living For,” originally recorded by Chuck Willis, is a simple love song about a man declaring his love for a girl and eagerly awaiting her arrival, stating he only has eyes for her. It’s the perfect song to dedicate to any special person in your life. It peaked in the 19th position on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart.

“Poor Jenny” by The Everly Brothers

Song year: 1959

If you’re looking for an upbeat rockabilly with a twist, consider listening to The Everly Brothers’ “Poor Jenny.” The lyrics take the perspective of a young man whose girlfriend gets into a fight at a party and winds up in jail. You can’t help but hum along to its catchy guitar accompaniment. This song ranked 22nd on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart for 12 weeks.

“Mr. Blue” by The Fleetwoods

Song year: 1959

This slow, melancholy pop song by The Fleetwoods might resonate with anyone feeling heartbroken over someone who doesn’t share the same feelings of love you have for them. The lyrics’ blue symbolism and guitar and trombone accompaniment emphasize the narrator’s sadness.

I prefer listening to this song after a rough week. This song topped Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and ranked second on the Hot R&B Sides Chart.

“What A Diff’rence A Day Made” by Dinah Washington

Song year: 1959

Although many people have recorded their renditions of “What A Diff’rence A Day Made,” Dinah Washington’s jazz-inspired take is one of the most well-known. Its slower tempo enhances its romantic energy courtesy of the lyrics describing how a person’s life can change after finding love.

This song ranked within the Top Ten of Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart, won a Grammy Award for “Best Rhythm and Blues Performance,” and got inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

“Waterloo” by Stonewall Jackson

Song year: 1959

If you’re a country fan looking for good music from 1959, you can’t go wrong with Stonewall Jackson’s “Waterloo.” The song’s title references an expression relating to defeat, emphasizing that everyone has to face failure at some point in their lives.

The song spent five weeks in the top spot on Billboard’s US Country Music Chart and ranked fourth on the Hot 100 Chart.

“Turn Me Loose” by Fabian

Song year: 1959

Fabian’s “Turn Me Loose” encapsulates the feeling every young man experiences when he goes out into the world independently and craves love. Although the song isn’t as fast-paced as other rock and roll hits at the time, its guitar accompaniment keeps it sounding fresh.

This song was Fabian’s first hit on the music scene, peaking at the ninth spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart.

“That’s Why (I Love You So)” by Jackie Wilson

Song year: 1959

Jackie Wilson’s “That’ Why (I Love You So)” is a soulful and uplifting love song that can brighten up anyone’s day. The lyrics emphasize the narrator’s feelings about the one he loves, stating how lucky he is to have her by his side. It ranked second on the R&B charts and 13th on the Hot 100 Chart.

“There Goes My Baby” by The Drifters

Song year: 1959

The Drifters released “There Goes My Baby” as soul music grew in popularity and doo-wop passed as one decade moved to the next. The lyrics describe a man wishing his love would return after breaking her heart. The vocals blend well with the swelling string accompaniment, giving the song a bittersweet touch.

This soulful song topped Billboard’s Hot R&B Sides Chart and ranked second on the Hot 100 Chart.

“Primrose Lane” by Jerry Wallace

Song year: 1959

Jerry Wallace’s “Primrose Lane” is one of the best songs from 1959 for any avid music lover looking for vintage country tunes. The song depicts a man walking through the streets with the woman he loves and enjoying life with her.

Like most songs in this period, it has a short yet simple execution, enhanced by its guitar and brass accompaniment. It ranked eighth on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart.

“Lipstick On Your Collar” by Connie Francis

Song year: 1959

Connie Francis‘ “Lipstick On Your Collar” tells a straightforward story in its lyrics about a woman finding out about her lover’s unfaithfulness. Despite its upbeat and playful sound, these lyrics’ subject manner might resonate with experience issues in a relationship.

This song ranked fifth on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and sold over one million copies. It was also the theme song for the 1993 British TV serial Lipstick on Your Collar.

“Enchanted” by The Platters

Song year: 1959

Like most good music from 1959, you can’t go wrong with an immersive love song. The Platters’ “Enchanted” embraces the ideas of love through lyrics describing how finding love is one of the best experiences a person can imagine. The vocals’ harmonies give the song a pleasant sound. This enchanting song ranked 12th on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and ninth on the R&B charts.

Top Songs From 1959, Final Thoughts

1959 was an impactful year when many famous artists and groups released music that resonated with the youth. No matter what music styles you prefer, you’re bound to find a new favorite while searching for top songs from 1959 for your playlist.

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