The love songs on this list were pre “Summer of Love” or “Free Love”, terms often associated with the 1960s. Although the 1960s were a cornucopia of music styles, musically, the beginning of the decade looked very little like the end.
The early 1960s (1960-1964) saw Elvis Presley return from military duty just in time for a British Invasion. It would signal the end of the Doo-Wop era, and the beginning of Soul. This was a calm before a storm of political upheaval and social change, making the 1950s look as if it were a whole other world, of which the early 1960s were our last glimpse.
“Angel Baby” by Rosie & The Originals
Rosie Hamlin was 14 years old when she penned “Angel Baby” as a poem for her first boyfriend, and when she was 15 recorded it with some friends in a makeshift recording studio. The group was the 1960 equivalent of a viral hit, being signed to a label only after the record was played at a department store. Once it got radio airplay, it quickly rose to #5 on the Pop charts in December of 1960.
“This Magic Moment” by The Drifters
Ben E. King was the lead singer of The Drifters when they recorded “This Magic Moment”, which would go on to reach #16 on the Pop charts and #4 on the R&B charts in 1960. It would later be re-recorded by Jay & The Americans in 1969, and would reach an even higher #6 position on the Pop charts, yet The Drifters version will always be the more recognizable and timeless classic.
“I Love How You Love Me” by The Paris Sisters
For anyone who knows anything about music, this is easily recognizable as an early Phil Spector hit. It had originally been written for Tony Orlando, but Phil felt it would be more impactful by a female act, and the rest is history. This sentimental hit reached #5 on the Pop charts in 1961.
“There’s A Moon Out Tonight” by The Capris
This Doo-Wop classic was originally recorded in the late 1950s but simply failed to chart. When it finally gained some traction in 1961 it climbed to the #3 position on the Pop charts. Originally calling themselves The Supemes, they changed their name to The Capris (cap-rees) after the 1957 Ford Capri.
“Sweets For My Sweet” by The Drifters
This Drifters number charted on the Pop Top 40 with this playfully fun love song in 1961 at #16, and at #10 on the R&B charts. The British pop band The Searchers later recorded and released the same tune taking it to #1 in the U.K., but failed to chart in the U.S.
“Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley
From the 1961 movie Blue Hawaii, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” was a #2 Pop 40 hit in 1961. The melody was actually taken from a French love song written in 1784 called “Plaisir d’amour”, translated “The Pleasure of Love”. Truly one of the all-time classic love songs, this was Elvis Presley’s show closer for most of his live performances.
“I Love You” by The Volumes
The Volumes were an R&B group out of Detroit, Michigan, and “I Love You” was their Doo-Wop one hit wonder. Although The Volumes never charted again, in 1962 this R&B number never charted on the R&B charts, but reached #22 on the Pop Charts. It is considered a Doo-Wop classic, and is an indisputable love song.
“You Belong To Me” by The Duprees
Another classic, this is not only a great love ballad but a popular slow dance. As a Doo-Wop styled hit, “You Belong To Me” is often mistaken as a 1950s hit, when it was actually released in 1962, when it charted at #7 on the Pop charts.
“So In Love” by The Tymes
The last Doo-Wop love ballad on our list, “So In Love” (the title later changed to “So Much In Love”) was a #1 hit on the Pop charts in 1963, and #4 on the R&B charts. This medium tempo tune is a classic love song, and a fun toe tapping classic.
“All My Loving” by The Beatles
Originally released on the 1963 album “With The Beatles”, it was never released as a single in the U.S. or U.K., but it was the first song The Beatles played on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. It was then released as a single in Canada where it rocketed to #1 in 1964.
“Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash is always dark and brooding, even when he sings a love song… and yes, “Ring of Fire” is a love song as ominous as it may sound. Written by Johnny Cash and co-written by June Carter Cash, it reached the Pop Top 20, peaking at #17 in 1963, and reached #1 on the U.S. Country charts the same year.
“I Only Want To Be With You” by Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield is considered to be the second British Invasion artist to chart (with this tune) in the United States. “I Only Want To Be With You” peaked at #12 on the U.S. Pop charts in 1964. The title of this up-beat love song says it all, making this a great love dedication for and occasion.
“(Just Like) Romeo & Juliet” by The Reflections
This was to be the only Top 40 chart hit for The Reflections, hailing from Detroit, Michigan, making this a true one-hit wonder. “(Just Like) Romeo & Juliet” peaked at #6 in May of 1964. And what better (or more morbid) comparison could there be than that of the most famously tragic Shakespearean lovers?
“Glad All Over” by The Dave Clark Five
In the U.K. this is likely best known as a football theme song, but in the U.S., “Glad All Over” was a #6 hit from yet another British Invasion group that were taking the radio airwaves by storm. “Glad All Over” is an upbeat tune whose title expresses how being loved makes us feel.
“And I Love Her” by The Beatles
John Lennon called this song Paul McCartney’s first “Yesterday”, likening it to Paul’s most famous of songs. “And I Love Her” was released as a single in 1964, reaching #12 on the Pop charts. It is also the fifth song on the album A Hard Days Night, and featured in the motion picture of the same name.
Although these tunes may not reflect the sounds we most commonly associate with the 1960s, they are 60s love songs nonetheless. Each one of these selections would make the cut for love dedications with nothing but love in the lyrics.
Love the love…
Sources: The Billboard Book of Top 40 [Pop] Hits and The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B Hits by Joel Whitburn and Billboard’s Hottest Hot 100 Hits by Fred Bronson.