The 20 Best Songs from 1965

The Beach Boys

Going down memory lane to 1965, you will learn about major historical events politically and musically. For instance, it was the year that Martin Luther King Jr. and 700 demonstrators were arrested. It is also the year that Malcolm X, a civil rights activist, was assassinated. In the music industry, The Beatles released their album that topped the charts and retained the position for nine weeks. Many more musicians made history with their music. Here is a list of the best songs from 1965 you should add to your playlist.

20. King of the Road by Roger Miller

Miller was on the road traveling when he was inspired to write the song. He came across signboards that read “trailers for rent” and “houses for rent,” an observation that inspired the first line of the song. The singer even noticed a hobo statue on the road which he bought and took it with him to a room he rented then began writing the song. The carefree lifestyle he observed must have been new to him hence the fascination. He sings about having no phone, no pets, and living in trailers, not caring about wearing worn-out suits, and smoking the old stogies he finds.

19. Rescue Me by Fontella Bass

According to an interview with NPR, Bass started her music career as a child and became the breadwinner for the family. She would earn at least $10 a night, playing at funerals. Her hit, “Rescue Me” was a collaboration of efforts that resulted in the song peaking at No.1 on the Billboard R&B chart and maintaining the position for four weeks.

18. I Got You Babe by Sonny & Cher

Sonny and Cher were dating at the time Sonny wrote this song on a piano they had bought for $85. He would stay up late writing songs on shirt cardboards and would drag Cher out of bed for her to sing. When he wrote “I Got You, Babe,” Cher did not like it, neither did the record label. However, upon its release it became a massive hit, spending weeks on Billboard as the No.1 song.

17. Crying in the Chapel by Elvis Presley

Artie Glenn wrote the lyrics to this song inspired by a personal experience. After having spinal surgery, he one day found himself in front of a chapel and decided to go inside, where he cried as he prayed. He then penned the lyrics but it is his son, Darrell, who recorded the song in 1953. Presley also recorded his version in 1960 but shelved it since at the time, religious songs were hardly successful. However, in 1966, Presley released his rendition, which climbed to No.3 on Billboard Hot 100.

16. Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat by Herman’s Hermits

It tells the story of a man in love with a woman he hopes to make his wife someday. He wonders if she knows how much he loves her by asking if she can hear his heartbeat whenever she’s around him. He has already told his friends about her and they are dying to meet her. The man is ready to wed her in church as he talks about them seeing a preacher. It peaked at No.2 on Billboard Hot 100.

15. You Were on My Mind by We Five

In 1961, Sylvia Fricker wrote her first song ever while in a bathtub. She was staying at the cockroach-infested Hotel Earle, Greenwich Village, and the bathtub was the only place the cockroaches would not climb. She released her song, but We Five also recorded their version, but the publishing company did not inform Fricker. Fricker heard We Five’s version for the first time on the car radio and was displeased with how the band had altered the lyrics. We Five’s song turned into a hit that climbed to No. 3 on Billboard Hot 100 chart.

14. Shotgun by Junior Walker & The All Stars

When Junior Walker performed at the El Grotto Club in Michigan’s Battle Creek, he observed the revelers doing a strange dance. They were dancing as if firing a gun and Walker realized that he could base his next song on the dance thus the idea of “Shotgun” was born. It became their first song to record with Motown, reaching No. 4 on Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on the R&B Singles chart.

13. I Can’t Help Myself by Four Tops

When four students from Detroit High School formed Four Tops in 1953, they did not know it would take years before catching a lucky break. For ten years, they persisted, even changing record labels, but success was nowhere to be found. They decided to switch from jazz to pop and released their first pop song, “Baby I Need Your Loving,” and in 1965, they released “I Can’t Help Myself.” The latter was a hit that stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart for nine weeks and also on Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks.

12. I’ll Never Find Another You by The Seekers

True lover never dies, and that is the message in the song. The lyrics talk about never finding another soulmate no matter how hard you search the entire world. Tom Springsteen penned the lyrics, and The Seekers recorded the song. According to Madly Odd (, the Australian group was desperately hoping for a hit song and thus tried to have BBC play the song. Their attempt failed, and instead, pirate radio played the song, which was an instant hit. It topped the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and other charts in the UK and Australia.

11. Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs

According to Medium, the song started as a dance track about the Hully Gully. However, Pen Records lawyers thought it wise to change the lyrics because of copyright infringement. Samudio agreed and re-named the song “Wooly Bully” after his pet cat. Since the lyrics were indecipherable, most radio stations banned the song, assuming that they were profane and suggestive. Still, that did not hinder it from getting to No.2 on the Hot 100 chart.

10. My Girl by The Temptations

Smokey Robinson wrote “My Girl” and presented it to Berry Gordy of Motown Records. According to NPR, Gordy could already tell that the song would be a number-one hit from the lyrics. Since Gordy had taught Robinson how to write songs professionally, it was easy for the label founder to know which song would be successful. Therefore, Robinson received $1000 as a bonus even before the song topped the charts. Robinson said that “My Girl” got such a universal appeal that if the band failed to play it at any show, the members would be cussed out of the stage.

9. Downtown by Petula Clark

Clark fell in love with the melody to the song the moment she heard it. She had been looking forward to attracting an English audience and told Tony Hatch, the songwriter, that she would love a song with lyrics as beautiful as the tune he had created. Hatch was inspired by the song, “Uptown” to write a song titled “Downtown” which was released in 1964. It climbed to the top in January 1965 where it stayed for a week before The Righteous Brothers overthrew it.

8. Papa’s Got a New Bag by James Brown

Brown needed more artistic independence than his record label was allowing him. So, he fought hard for over a year and got a new and better contract that allowed him to record “Papa’s Got a New Bag.” The phrase is a metaphor meaning that he was doing a different thing and had found new motivation. It was such a good song that it bagged him his first Grammy Award.

7. Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan

This is a song that can be used to warn people about pride coming before a fall. There were rumors of the “Miss Lonely” reference being about Edie Sedgwick but Dylan shut them down. The song tells the story of a woman who had it all – being educated in the finest schools and living a lavish lifestyle – but eventually became invisible, with nothing to lose. At first, the song was rejected even by radio stations due to its six-minute length but once the public heard it, they kept requesting it. The public reception enabled it to climb to peak at No.2.

6. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ by The Righteous Brothers

This song is credited to Phil Spector, Cynthia Weil, and Barry Mann. Spector at the time of writing the song was at a tumultuous place in his life due to pressure, professionally and personally. He, therefore, worked with Weil and Mann who penned the lyrics and Spector added final touches to ensure the song was a hit. At first, the song was not embraced; even DJs rejected it, claiming it was too long, slow, and boring. It took two months for the song to reach No.1. Strangely, Cilla Black recorded her version of the song which peaked at No.2 thus the same song occupied the top two positions.

5. Help Me, Rhonda, by The Beach Boys

The lyrics tell the story of a man who was madly in love with a woman he planned to marry. They foresaw a future together but the woman left him for another man. The man is heartbroken and is seeking solace in a woman named Rhonda, hoping that she will help him forget about his ex-lover. He has barely been sleeping therefore begs Rhonda to push the woman out of his heart. This version is different from another the band had released the same year. “Help Me, Rhonda” peaked at No.1 on Billboard Hot 100.

4. Back in My Arms Again by The Supremes

OldTimemusic published that inspiration came from a breakup between Diana Ross and Berry Gordy. The two had been dating for a while before calling it quits, but Gordy wanted Ross back in his life. He, therefore, asked the production team of Motown Records to write a song that would win her back. They wrote “Back in My Arms Again,” a song that tells the tale of a woman who has been advised by friends to let go of her man. However, she rejects their advice because she realizes she will be left suffering without her man.

3. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones

Keith Richards could not get the phrase “I can’t get no satisfaction” out of his head. So, when he woke up in the middle of the night, he recorded the phrase and played an eight-note riff before falling back to sleep. He did not think the riff was worth anything, but The Rolling Stones happened to be searching for such a phrase. Thus, it became the basis for the song “Satisfaction” which went on to become their first No. 1 single in the US.

2. Stop! In the Name of Love by The Supremes

This hit song was inspired by an argument. Lamont Dozier, one of the songwriters of Motown Records, had been caught cheating by his girlfriend. The incident led to an argument that resulted in Dozier telling his girlfriend to stop in the name of love before she broke his heart. The phrase lingered in the songwriter’s mind and eventually, it became his inspiration for the next song he wrote for the girl group, The Supremes.

1. Help! by the Beatles

This was one of John Lennon’s favorite songs, and he explained that it is because it was written from a personal and sincere point of view. When he penned it, he was undergoing depression, and the song was him calling out for help in a not-so-obvious way. For fans, it was just another rock and roll song but Lennon was appealing to anybody to see through the fame and come to his aid. It became a massive hit, topping the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom.

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