The mid sixties were like the swing of the pendulum. If 1967 was the Summer of Love, 1965 and 1966 cleared the way. Doo-Wop and Rockabilly had all but disappeared, and while traditional artists like Nat King Cole still made occasional chart appearances, Rock and Roll, Soul and Pop were now the predominant sound.
“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” by Mel Carter
Dramatic and powerful, Mel Carter landed at #8 on the Pop charts with this 1965 hit, written by Harry Noble in 1952. Still requested today at weddings and anniversaries, this is perhaps one of the more popular Rock-era love ballads amongst non Rock-era adults.
“In My Life” by The Beatles
John Lennon isn’t particularly remembered for sentimental love songs, yet this one is a doozie. Credited to Lennon/McCartney, this 1965 tune was an album cut from Rubber Soul, and therefore did not chart, although that didn’t hamper its popularity as a love song and popular dedication.
“Baby, I’m Yours” by Barbara Lewis
Written by Van McCoy, who would write “The Hustle” ten years later, “Baby I’m Yours” was recorded in 1965 by Barbara Lewis on the Atlantic label, and reached #11 on the Pop charts. Lyrically, “Baby I’m Yours” is a tremendous promise of love from beginning to end, until the stars fall from the skies.
“L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole
I know, you probably thought this tune was older. “L-O-V-E” was written for Nat King Cole’s 1965 album of the same name, which was the last Nat King Cole album to be released before his death in the same year. Perhaps one of Nat’s most well known and recognizable numbers, it was never released as a single, and therefore never charted.
“I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher
The times they were a-changin’, and this iconic 1965 hit by the duo Sonny & Cher was a popcorn glimpse of things to come. It reached #1 on the U.S., U.K., and Canadian Pop charts… can’t get much more ‘pop’ than that. Either was, “I Got You Babe” is a fun and lighthearted love song and duet.
“Eight Days A Week” by The Beatles
Someone who loves you 24/7 ain’t got nothin on The Beatles… (and there’s a Spinal Tap joke in here somewhere). “Eight Days A Week” went to #1 on the Pop charts in February of 1965, and was The Beatles 7th #1 in the U.S. Sonically, this song is unique in that it features a fade-in (the volume comes up slowly at the intro) serving as another example of Beatles experimentation.
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys
A unique twist on the love song, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” suggests young lovers wondering what it would be like to be older, and not having to “wait”. Both innocent and suggestive at the same time, this tune reached #8 on the Pop charts in 1966, and was also featured on the Beach Boys iconic “Pet Sounds” album.
“Cherish” by The Association
Total Folk Pop, this innocuous 1966 love ballad reached #1 on the Pop charts in the U.S. and Canada, and was named “most likely to become a Muzak song”. Even today, “Cherish” continues to be played in elevators across North America.
“Oh How Happy” by Shades of Blue
Shades of Blue were called a “blue-eyed soul group” in 1966, which simply meant they were white artists recording R&B or Soul sounding tracks. “Oh How Happy” was written by Motown recording artist Edwin Starr, and reached #12 on the Pop charts.
“Cherry, Cherry” by Neil Diamond
It was 1966 when a twenty-five year old Neil Diamond had his Top 40 debut with this #6 hit. While “Cherry” has been used as a girls name from time to time, it could just as easily be a common noun, or even a term of endearment.
“I’m A Believer” by The Monkees
Written by Neil Diamond, “I’m A Believer” was recorded and released by The Monkees in 1966, and was the last #1 hit of 1966, and went on to become the biggest selling record of 1967. In 2001 it was famously re-recorded by the group Smashmouth and appeared in the movie Shrek, introducing a new generation to this timeless love song.
“Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys once again with a unique twist on the love song, This #1 smash hit from 1966 is a borderline crush song as opposed to love song, until it reaches the lyric, “Gotta keep those lovin good vibrations a-happenin with her” where it establishes the mutuality of the love they call “Good Vibrations”.
All great love songs and some even timeless classics, the tunes on this list have been vetted of any negative connotations (breakups, betrayal, etc) and sing only of reciprocal, joyous, butterflies in the stomach kind of love, so you can feel free to dedicate them to the one you love!
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.