People are strange.
A SiriusXM channel is once again the target of my ire. Or, in this case, I should say that the listeners of 60s on 6 are at fault.
I missed it late last year when they ran a poll to collect the “top 600 songs of the 1960s” and I also missed the playthrough of the entire list. But no matter. They re-ran it this past weekend, and as you may have gathered, I have bones to pick.
I realize that with any venture of this sort, inequities are inevitable, but really, this one is so flawed, I have to limit myself to the Top Ten, or this post will be longer than most novels. I mean, really, how can “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am” (#96) be more “top” than “White Rabbit” (#97) and “MacArthur Park” (#98)*?
* I almost said “in what universe” but clearly the answer would be “this one”. Ah, the tribulations of an author looking for just the right phrase…
Honestly, I like all three songs (I’ve mentioned before that I have low tastes), but Henry is quite literally a single joke repeated three times–“Second verse, same as the first”–while the other two make the effort to tell a complete story. They’re complete artistic thoughts that attempt to answer the questions they raise. Why does the widow prefer Henrys? Does being Henry the VIII give the singer the option of executing or divorcing his wife not open to the common Brit?
Anyway. The top ten*.
* The full list is online, of course.
The Beatles got two tracks into the top ten, “Yesterday” (#10) and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (#8). There are nineteen other Beatles’ numbers scattered through the list–not a unreasonable number for the most influential band of the decade. But “top” is not “important”. I may shake my head in sorrow, but I won’t complain out loud.
I also won’t complain about the inclusion of “My Girl” (#9). The Temptations are certainly worthy of a top ten slot, and “My Girl” is certainly one of their better cuts.
But really? “Downtown” at Number Seven? Yes, Petula Clark probably had to be in there somewhere, but how does that particular song make it that far up the list? “Don’t Sleep In the Subway” only hit Number 321 and her second highest placement–“I Know a Place”–is well back at Number 179. (Petula’s also the only woman to crack the top ten. Even the great Patsy Cline only made it to Number 13 with “Crazy”.)
“Cara Mia” from Jay & The Americans? What were the voters thinking? I know, I know: they weren’t.
The Beach Boys’ kick off the top five with “California Girls”. They also had twenty other tunes on the full list. Personally, I’d have picked “Surfer Girl” (#200) over “California Girls”, but I’m mostly okay with this one.
“Oh Pretty Woman”. No top list would be complete without Roy Orbison and this is his best-known work, if not his best musically. But “top” isn’t “best” either. And Roy did have seven other songs on the list.
Number Three is “The House of the Rising Sun”. Great song. Great car singalong. But, third toppest song of the 1960s? I haz a dubious.
“Satisfaction”. Um. Big hit, though I prefer Devo’s cover. And the Stones did put a total of ten tracks in this top 600. But their next best showing was “Get Off My Cloud” at Number 138. That’s quite the drop off–nearly as dramatic as Petula Clark’s. Still, it is the Stones. Give it the benefit of the doubt.
Which brings us to Number One. The toppest of the top. The absolute musical pinnacle of the decade. Who is it? Not Elvis (twelve songs on this list, peaking at Number 21 with “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”).
“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers.
This is a miscarriage of justice on a par with the 2000 Presidential Election. I suspect somebody was stuffing the ballot box.
But then again, maybe it’s perfectly legitimate. Nobody who survived the election in 2016 can say voters always make the right choice. Not with a straight face anyway.
People are strange. (Oh, and “People Are Strange” didn’t make the list. The Doors only got one song into the Top 600: “Light My Fire” at Number 50. Go figure.)