Best Songs From 1961

1961 was a golden age for music, with everything from jazz, blues, classic country, and classic rock. It was also the start of the British invasion when bands like The Beatles showed up on the scene.

Let’s take a walk through the best songs from 1961.

“Stand By Me” by Ben King

Song Year: 1961

You’ve probably heard “Stand By Me” at all kinds of different occasions: weddings, parties, dinners. It’s the sort of song that always seems to show up one way or another.

The song’s message is beautiful: a man asking his woman to stay by his side no matter what comes their way.

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley

Song Year: 1961

It’s hard to go wrong with a love song from Elvis Presley. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is one of his most heartfelt songs, all about a man who is hopelessly in love with the woman of his dreams.

“At Last” by Etta James

Song Year: 1961

Etta James was the sort of powerhouse singer that helped popularize women R&B and soul artists, especially in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

His strong voice, wide range, and sultry attitude made her an almost instant success. “At Last” is probably one of her most famous love songs.

“The Wanderer” by Dion

Song Year: 1961

Dion makes his second appearance on this list with his hit song “The Wanderer,” an upbeat pop song about a traveling man who tries to make it with just about any woman he lays eyes on.

The content seems a little questionable if you really listen to the words. But the beat is so catchy that you almost don’t care.

“I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline

Song Year: 1961

Patsy Cline was known for her deep voice, heartbreaking hits, and down-home country style.

“I Fall to Pieces” was one of the top-ranked songs on the country charts from 1961 and is easily one of Patsy Cline’s biggest hits and also one of the most memorable country songs of the year.

“Moon River” by Andy Williams

Song Year: 1961

Andy Williams sang “Moon River” with the British pop star Danny Williams, and the two singers made it one of the most recognized jazz songs in the United States and the United Kingdom.

It’s not the longest song, but it’s a charming one worth a listen. Definitely some good music from 1961.

“Crazy” by Patsy Cline

Song Year: 1961

Patsy Cline’s other most famous song was “Crazy,” a soulful and heart wrenching tune about a woman who feels insane for falling in love with a certain man.

Now she feels lonely and blue and spends the song rebuking herself for caring enough to try to make things work.

“Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean

Song Year: 1961

Story songs were popular in country music, especially in the mid-1900s. Few were as potent as Jimmy Dean’s tale of “Big Bad John.”

He’s a man with a reputation and intimidating stature, but he’s also got a heroic nature. When his fellow workers become trapped in a mine, “Big Bad John” springs into action at the cost of his own life.

“Hit The Road Jack” by Ray Charles

Song Year: 1961

“Hit The Road Jack” is the sort of classic that will always be around, no matter what other songs come and go.

You can always count on Ray Charles to brighten the mood with his outstanding piano skills and soulful style when all else fails.

“Runaround Sue” by Dion

Song Year: 1961

In “Runaround Sue,” Dion showcases the unique doo-wap style that made him and other artists in the 1960s so famous.

He begins giving the listener the impression that he will tell a heartbreaking tale. Then the song takes a swing, just good enough for a dance!

“Sea of Heartbreak” by Don Gibson

Song Year: 1961

Don Gibson was the first to sing “Sea of Heartbreak”, and his version reached all the way to the second spot on the hot country billboards in the 1960s.

Johnny Cash would later cover the song and many other famous musicians of the day. But there’s nothing quite like the original!

“Cupid” by Sam Cooke

Song Year: 1961

Few singers are as easy to listen to as Sam Cooke. With his soulful voice, impeccable pitch, and wide range, Cooke was an American legend in the music world.

“Cupid” was one of his biggest hits, released in 1961 with elements of various influences like Latin pop and jazz.

“Cry For A Shadow” by The Beatles

Song Year: 1961

The Beatles were one of the more famous bands of the British invasion that took place throughout the 1960s when British rock and roll started making its mark on American music.

“Cry For A Shadow” was an instrumental song they recorded in 1961 in Germany.

“Running Scared” by Roy Orbison

Song Year: 1961

Roy Orbison sings a highly relatable song about a man existing in constant fear and insecurity.

He loves his woman dearly, but he’s afraid she would choose another fella over him. He has no confidence in the fact that she loves and desires him.

“Walk Right Back” by The Everly Brothers

Song Year: 1961

Hailing from Kentucky and Illinois, The Everly Brothers were a popular country duo for over 20 years in the mid-1900s. With hits like “Walk Right Back,” they constantly put out great music that everyone could enjoy.

“One Mint Julep” by Ray Charles

Song Year: 1961

“One Mint Julep” is an informative jazz song about the dangers of intoxication when you’re in a vulnerable position.

Ray Charles humorously tells the story of having only one drink and fooling around with the wrong woman. Now he must marry her, or else face ruin!

“I’ve Told Every Little Star” by Linda Scott

Song Year: 1961

You’re supposed to make a wish when you see a shooting star. But don’t tell anyone. Otherwise, your wish might not come true.

Linda Scott loves making wishes on stars, and other elements in nature, especially when she’s excited about a sweet man in her life. 

“Let the Four Winds Blow” by Fats Domino

Song Year: 1961

Fats Domino perfects his rock and R&B style with this groovy jam. He wants to tell his lady how much she means to him, and so he does it through song.

“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by Elvis Presley

Song Year: 1961

In this slow, sweet, heartbreaking song, Elvis wants to know if his former lover misses him as much as he misses her.

“Are You Lonesome Tonight” is a little different from the rock songs Elvis normally sings.

“Sugartime” by Johnny Cash

Song Year: 1961

Speaking of Johnny Cash, here’s one of his lesser-known songs that debuted in 1961.

“Sugartime” is an upbeat 1960s country song with a standard beat, unique lyrics, and flawless harmonies ringing throughout the track.

“Please Stay” by The Drifters

Song Year: 1961

The Drifters want to know how much begging it would take for a very special woman to change her mind and stick around instead of abandoning her lover.

The background vocals make this a typical song for The Drifters, who excelled at creating epic harmonies.

“Hello Mary Lou” by Ricky Nelson

Song Year: 1961

Ricky Nelson comes from a family of show business professionals. He starred in a radio program that turned into a television program about his family, along with his parents and brother.

He also made it as a country singer. Songs like “Hello Mary Lou” helped him rank on music charts, and in the hearts of many young women.

“Sailor” by Petula Clark

“Sailor” by Petula Clark

Song Year: 1961

Many songs lament the fact that a man is often torn between his love for the sea and a beautiful woman back on the shore; a woman who’s waiting for him with a longing heart.

Petula Clark begs her own “Sailor” to leave his seafaring ways and come back to her arms forever.

“Blue Moon” by The Marcels

Song Year: 1961

According to this R&B song from The Marcels, there’s a special kind of power in a “Blue Moon.” You can tell it all your deepest wishes, and they just might come true.

At least, that’s what happens in the fantastical world of music.

“Tossin’ and Turnin’” by Bobby Lewis

Song Year: 1961

Like a lot of other songs from the 1960s, Bobby Lewis liked to sing about the toil and hardship that comes from being in love.

In this song, he can’t sleep because he constantly thinks about the woman of his dreams. He’s up and down all night long because of her!

“Every Beat of My Heart” by Gladys Knight & The Pips

Song Year: 1961

“Every Beat of My Heart,” tells a touching story about a woman’s wholehearted devotion to her lover. Even though they’re separated right now, she swears that she’ll be true to him and she’ll think of him no matter where she is or what she’s doing.

“Gypsy Woman” by The Impressions

Song Year: 1961

If you’re making a playlist with all the best easy-listening tunes, you need to have a few songs from The Impressions. They were masters of soul and blues in the 1960s.

“Gypsy Woman” is an excellent tune for any occasion. Whether you need background music during homework or you’re rocking out while you clean the kitchen, this is the song you need in your life.

“That’s It, I Quit, I’m Movin’ On” by Sam Cooke

Song Year: 1961

Another popular Sam Cooke song from the 1960s was “That’s It, I Quit, I’m Movin’ On.” It features all the things you love about Sam Cooke: a groovy rhythm, beautiful harmonies, and Cooke’s sultry voice.

“Lost Someone” by James Brown

Song Year: 1961

James Brown has plenty of upbeat dancing songs, but he knew how to tear your heart out when he wanted to.

With this heartbreaking tune about lost love and asking for forgiveness, don’t be surprised if you shed a tear at Brown’s painful screams.

Top Songs From 1961, Final Thoughts

Between Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash, it’s hard to pick the best songs from 1961.

It was a stellar time in music history, with innovations and British bands coming to America to change rock and roll.

The result of this combination of forces was an incredible year for music.

Did we leave any out? What’s your favorite song from 1961? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *