We continue our review of the best music of the 60s with a really special playlist with the top 100 songs of 1967 in English. A year filled with so many great songs that it has been necessary to divide it into two parts to try to make the reading and listening of both articles more enjoyable. Most of them are undisputed classics, while others are lesser-known to the mainstream audience, but these are today, without a doubt, the 1967 music hits that set the stage for everything incredible that came after. We can increasingly notice the evolution in music and in the artists, observing their growth, maturity, and growing personality.
Just take a look at the songs from the 50s to confirm this contrast. Although this contrast is only apparent when comparing this year to those, it’s important to understand that music in English from 1967 (and in general) wouldn’t be what it is without the 50s. Great names from soul, disco, folk, psychedelia, and pop rock are all here. With an extra dose of The Beatles and The Doors, as you’ll see shortly, you’ll also find the amazing 13th Floor Elevators, Albert King and Aretha Franklin to kick off this top 1967 songs, but also two fantastic tracks from Jefferson Airplane, Leonard Cohen and many more.
So, the most important thing when talking about the best songs of 1967 (in English and beyond) for us is that it allows us to clearly glimpse what music will become in the 70s, since we consider 1967 the best year for music and the 70s the best decade for music. Progressive rock will hit harder, the 60s rock will transition more towards pop, great bands will break up, leading to the solo careers of their members, and so on. The perspective of the bands and their followers will change simultaneously with the broader society, adapting the concept of music to new realms, formats, and market models.
Top 100 songs of 1967: Spotify Playlist + Our favorite hits
With this contextual framework, we can now dive right into our list of the best music from 1967 in English. By the way, this top with 100 songs of 1967 is different to the one seen in the Billboard Top 100 of 1967, but it can also give you a mental image of what that year must have been like, or can help you reminisce about your experiences if you were around then, depending on your age. And as always, remember that we’ve provided a link to our Spotify playlist with all these songs so you can enjoy them through your headphones whenever you like.
Aretha Franklin – Respect
The way “Respect” is spelled is iconic, and anyone knows the beginning of this song regardless of their language. But it’s not enough to stop there. This year is a collection of great songs that are unstoppable, unique, and inimitable no matter how much one may try.
It’s funny because Aretha Franklin’s song is a cover of the original by Otis Redding, another legendary artist who knew how to imprint his unique mark on everything he touched. However, the music in both versions is significantly different, and through some changes in the lyrics, the stories told by them have a different flavor.
Redding’s version is a plea from a desperate man who will give his woman everything she wants. In contrast, Franklin’s version is a declaration from a strong and confident woman who knows she has everything her man desires. She never does wrong and demands respect.
Bee Gees – Massachusetts
The three Gibb brothers, globally known for their “Stayin’ Alive” that accompanied John Travolta on every dance floor, were also fond of ballads. This is an example. “Massachusetts,” a song dedicated to the city, predates the previously mentioned song by 10 years, which is an interesting fact to highlight when considering what it means to survive and reinvent oneself in the music industry for a decade.
This song was intended to be an antithesis to the flower power anthems of the hippie era, like “Let’s Go to San Francisco” and “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair),” which you’ll find a bit further down. The protagonist of the song had been in San Francisco to join the hippies, but now he missed his home. The idea that the lights had gone out in Massachusetts suggested that everyone had gone to San Francisco.
Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth
A band formed in 1966 and dissolved in 1968, Buffalo Springfield did quite well with “For What It’s Worth.” A title that is quite fitting given Buffalo Springfield’s history, as we can see. The single was released in 1966, but it wasn’t until 1967 that it appeared on the group’s self-titled album.
Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love
The band featuring Eric Clapton (who popularized the use of the wah-wah pedal on electric guitars of the time), Jack Bruce, and drummer Ginger Baker. There’s not much more to add to define this classic.
Frank Sinatra & Nancy Sinatra – Somethin’ Stupid
American music in 1967 wouldn’t be the same without this great father-daughter duo. Although it’s a bit strange given the lyrics, but oh well.
Frankie Valli – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” is a classic in so many languages… and that’s where we can gauge the impact of the original version. Frankie Valli, the lead singer of The Four Seasons (about whom I recall Clint Eastwood made a movie) succeeded as a solo artist with this song, and his fame was such that he sang the main theme for Grease (outside the musical of the movie, of course).
In any case, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” has been and still is one of the most covered songs and undoubtedly one of the most important romantic songs in the history of music.
Herman’s Hermits – No Milk Today
The British Invasion had many names, even though we now primarily remember The Kinks and The Beatles as the main pillars. The first time I heard this song by Herman’s Hermits and understood the word “gay,” with the English knowledge I had back then (since I’m a Spanish person), I had to look up what it meant, and that’s how I learned that it meant “weak” back then.
Jefferson Airplane – Somebody To Love
Grace Slick’s voice and personality have contributed more to the creation, development, and evolution of psychedelic rock than the other well-known bands within the subgenre. Not because she’s better than the rest (but yes!), but because the sound found in this band has transcended decades and bands since then.
Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit
Indeed, if a song seems to have been composed during a drug-induced high, it’s probably this one. Collaborating with Disney’s movie and Lewis Carroll’s book, the spirit of Alice in Wonderland is reflected in this Jefferson Airplane song.
Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
As we mentioned earlier, here is the most renowned Canadian singer-songwriter in music. His debut in 1967 with the album “Songs Of Leonard Cohen,” where you can also find “The Stranger Song,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “So Long, Marianne,” or “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” brought a breath of fresh air even back then when everything was fresh. His fashion sense, his way of performing, combined with his voice, demeanor, and lyrics, made him unique.
We recommend you listen to “Suzanne,” and if you like it and didn’t know it before, dive into this album and explore his entire career.
Love – Alone Again Or
The song “Alone Again Or” was first recorded in 1967 by the rock band Love. The song was written by Bryan MacLean and included in the album “Forever Changes.” Over the years, it has been covered by several artists, such as UFO in 1977, or Sara Lov in 2014. Bryan MacLean himself even released two versions of the song, which were included in his album “Ifyoubelievein,” released in 1997.
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
There are no impossibles. That’s what the song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” reflects, one of the most famous musical duos in history and an ode to optimism and the concept of always being there for those in need. In this song, the performers demonstrate that, no matter what happens, they are there when a friend needs their help.
The famous song, belonging to the R&B genre, was written by Ashford & Simpson a year before its release. The composition was a great success in 1967, with the first version recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. But, if all of this weren’t enough, the song has appeared in several movies, including “Stepmom,” starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. It’s also part of the soundtracks of the children’s film “Chicken Little” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata
“Pata Pata,” or if we translate from Xhosa to English, “Touch, touch,” is an afro-pop song made internationally famous by South African singer Miriam Makeba.
Makeba, who was inspired for this song by a dance with the same name, traveled across all 5 continents thanks to this hit, even performing it at the Viña del Mar Festival in 1972.
Neil Diamond – Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon
This song, in which a man waits for the girl of his dreams to become a woman to be with him, was written by Neil Diamond himself and only reached number 10 on the music charts in the United States.
Although it was also part of Diamond’s album “Just For You,” it’s possible that the version featured in the 1994 movie “Pulp Fiction,” performed by the rock band Urge Overkill, is more widely recognized.
Peter, Paul & Mary – Leaving On A Jet Plane
Goodbyes are tough! At least, that’s what the lyrics of this song reflect. It was written in 1966 by John Denver and performed by Peter, Paul, and Mary.
Originally, the song was going to be called “Babe, I Hate to Go,” a verse from the song itself, just like the final title.
Despite the sadness of saying goodbye to someone you love, the song brought several successes, reaching number 1 in Canada and on US charts like Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100.
Nevertheless, despite its success, it ended up being their biggest hit… and their last one. Well, what a way to say goodbye being part of the top 100 hits of 1967.
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade Of Pale
This song is from the British rock band Procol Harum. Released in the summer of 1967, the song was a huge success at the time, topping the charts as the most-played song for at least 6 weeks. Since then, it has become the group’s most well-known and iconic song. As for its authorship, it was written by Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, and Matthew Fisher.
Aside from the successes it achieved and with over 10 million copies sold worldwide, the song’s rights caused some controversy. Initially attributed solely to Gary Brooker, in 2006 a judge ruled that he should share 40% of the rights with Matthew Fisher, the group’s organist and composer of the melody.
In addition to all of this, A Whiter Shade Of Pale has various versions and has even been translated into Spanish by the Argentine artist Sergio Denis as “Con Su Blanca Palidez.”
Sam & Dave – Soul Man
The soul duo formed by Sam Moore and Dave Prater, both gospel singers, released the song “Soul Man” in 1967. The song, written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, debuted at number 2 as a single for Atlantic Records.
For its composition, one of the authors claimed to have been inspired by the civil rights protests that took place in the United States in the 1960s. Specifically, the inspiration came after seeing how African Americans marked the houses that were not destroyed during the protests.
From that, this song was born, which tells the story of someone who perseveres in adverse conditions. In short, it’s an anthem of pride and courage. Perhaps for this reason, in 2019, “Soul Man” was chosen for preservation in the National Recording Registry as a culturally, historically, and significant cultural asset.
Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)
“San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)” is a song from the psychedelic pop genre released in 1967, written by John Phillips and performed by Scott McKenzie, the song was used to promote the Monterey International Pop Music Festival, which was held in June of that same year.
Over time, it has become one of the best-selling singles of the 1960s worldwide. It even reached the fourth position on the charts in the United States and number 1 in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Germany. In short, one of the 1967 greatest hits.
Additionally, if you’re into the world of video games, you’ve probably heard this song in the Grand Theft Auto franchise: “San Andreas,” where two missions are named after this song.
Strawberry Alarm Clock – Incense And Peppermints
“Incense and Peppermints” is the title of the song by the Los Angeles band Strawberry Alarm Clock. It’s part of the psychedelic rock music trend and was written by John S. Carter and Tim Gilbert, based on an original instrumental by the band members.
Although it reached number 1 on the Billboard 1967 charts, the song quickly dropped off those charts and did not make it to the UK charts.
The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations
Do you know that moment when something doesn’t give you good vibes? Well, that’s what Brian Wilson’s mother thought when, unintentionally, she gave her son the idea for this song. It was inspired by a conversation about how dogs bark when they get a bad feeling about someone.
The song was mainly performed by Carl Wilson, its composer and The Beach Boys’ guitarist. As expected, it attracted all the good vibrations, becoming a huge success both inside and outside the borders of the United States. To wrap up its successes, in 2016, the RIAA awarded this song a platinum record certification, indicating over a million copies sold.
The Beatles – All You Need Is Love
You’ve heard it in TV commercials, and its name has surely come up even in your English classes. This classic love song by The Beatles is one of the most famous in the group’s career from Liverpool.
Of course, it has several later cover versions sung by other artists like Oasis, Tom Jones, or Rod Stewart. Without a doubt, “All You Need Is Love” is the universal love anthem par excellence.
As a side note, this song ranks number 362 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
The Beatles – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
It evokes summer, the first time, with a very simple melody that will take you on a psychedelic journey if you listen to it, reminiscent of a hallucinogenic episode… Interestingly, its theme led to the following curious fact: the initials of the song’s title form the word LSD, although according to The Beatles, it was purely a coincidence.
Although authorship was attributed to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it was actually entirely written by Lennon. The song was included in the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and is part of all the music from 1967 in English.
The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever
Another psychedelic rock song by The Beatles that saw the light in 1967 is “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Also composed by Lennon and McCartney, it was inspired by Lennon’s childhood and his time at a children’s home called like the song.
Although it was released the same year as the previously mentioned songs, it was not included in the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album but was instead part of a double single, sharing the spotlight with the song “Penny Lane.”
The Box Tops – The Letter
The song titled The Letter, written by Wayne Carson Thompson, was one of the big hits for the group The Box Tops. It reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967 and was very popular during the Vietnam War, perhaps because it recalls the life of a soldier returning home alone and all he wants is a letter from the person he loves.
It was included in the band’s self-titled album, also released in 1967. It’s also on the list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” in this case at position 363, and it has been covered by groups and artists as significant as The Beach Boys and Bob Marley (in a reggae style).
The Doors – Break On Through (To The Other Side)
The legendary group The Doors began their musical journey with a self-titled album, which includes the song “Break On Through (To The Other Side).” It was their debut single, and although it didn’t achieve the expected success, it was the starting point for the band’s promising career.
The Doors – Light My Fire
We continue with the American band, but this time with “Light My Fire,” another song included in their debut album. This time the song reached number 1 on the Billboard singles chart. But not everything was success and acclaim; the song’s lyrics were somewhat controversial for the time due to their references to the world of drugs.
The Doors – People Are Strange
After the success of the band’s first album came “Strange Days,” their second studio album, which includes “People Are Strange.” And as the title suggests, it’s true that we are surrounded by strange people, and we ourselves are also strange. A song about human alienation that evokes the hippie culture, but… let’s not get tangled up in its analyzed lyrics, because what’s important is that it also achieved considerable success in 1967.
The Doors – The End
We return to their self-titled album, which includes “The End,” a song that speaks of a farewell, patricide… In short, another controversial song that cost the band their gig at the Whisky a Go Go bar, where they added a little extra to the lyrics that didn’t sit well with the owner of the venue, although it did with the owner of Elektra Records, who offered them their first record contract.
The Four Tops – Reach Out I’ll Be There
In a similar vein to “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There” is an anthem that encourages perseverance despite adversity and offers a friendly hand to hold onto.
The song is part of the fourth studio album by the group, titled “Reach Out,” and was written and produced by the Holland-Dozier-Holland production team. Currently, it’s considered the most emblematic track of the musical ensemble.
The Hollies – Carrie-Anne
“Carrie-Anne” is possibly one of the freshest and liveliest songs on this top of 1967 songs in English. It was written by Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, and Tony Hicks and released by the British pop-rock group The Hollies. Recorded and released in May of the same year, it managed to reach the third position on the UK Singles Chart.
As an anecdote, the actress Carrie-Anne Moss, famous for her roles in films like “The Matrix” or “Memento,” was named after this song by The Hollies.
The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset
On May 5, 1967, this psychedelic rock hit composed by Ray Davies, the lead singer of the British band The Kinks, saw the light of day. According to the author, the lyrics of “Waterloo Sunset” refer to his sister and her boyfriend, who were heading to a new world and then emigrating to another country. However, there were many rumors at the time because everything seemed to indicate that the story was inspired by the romance of the famous Terence Stamp and Julie Christie. The song, which reached number 42 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” was performed by its own author during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.
The Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine
Never has a green tambourine been so talked about, and that’s the title of this song and the debut album of The Lemon Pipers. It’s a song classified as Bubblegum Pop, a melodic and lively genre aimed at a youthful audience.
Composed by Paul Leka and Shelley Pinz, it was the band’s biggest hit, earning them a gold record for over one million sales.
The Moody Blues – Nights In White Satin
For a moment, “Nights In White Satin” recalls another famous song released years later by Metallica. The song is an open declaration of love that didn’t quite work out initially, perhaps due to its length, over 7 minutes. Originally included in the “Days of Future Passed” studio album, when it was released as a single, its duration was shortened to a total of 4 minutes and 26 seconds.
Years later, and after several hits by the group, such as “Hey Jude” or “Layla,” the band re-released the song in 1972, finally reaching the coveted number 1 on the music charts in the United States and Canada.
Like many other iconic songs of the era, it also became part of cinematic history, being featured in films like Martin Scorsese’s “Casino.”
The Spencer Davis Group – Gimme Some Lovin’
What in Spanish would be “Dame algo de amor” is a song written by Steve and Muff Winwood and Spencer Davis. What’s most curious about this song is that, according to Muff Winwood, the band’s bassist, the entire creative process took place in just half an hour. If only half an hour were so productive for all of us!
The Troggs – Love Is All Around
Reg Presley managed to take this rock song to number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Later, it was covered by the Scottish band Wet Wet Wet for the soundtrack of the acclaimed film “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”
The Turtles – Happy Together
Ah, love. Love and music have always been closely connected, and this is the case with “Happy Together,” this cheerful song about the happiness of being with the one you love. The song was written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon to be part of the third studio album by the American band, titled with the same name.
Released in February 1967, it dethroned The Beatles’ “Penny Lane” from the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, undoubtedly a memorable achievement.
The Velvet Underground – I’m Waiting For The Man
The then leader of The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, composed this piece dealing with the subject of drugs. Specifically, this garage pop song narrates the story of a man who, more dead than alive, travels to Harlem to buy twenty-six dollars worth of heroin.
Despite this macabre topic, “I’m Waiting For The Man” was honored in 2004 with position 161 in Rolling Stone’s ranking of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
The Velvet Underground – Sunday Morning
Just by hearing the opening notes of “Sunday Morning,” we can tell that we’re dealing with an eternal song in the history of music. Like many others, it has been revived today as the soundtrack for many TV commercials.
“Sunday Morning” is the piece that opens the album “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” which marked the beginning of the musical journey of this American band along with the German singer Christa Päffgen, better known by the name Nico, her artistic pseudonym.
The Young Rascals – Groovin’
This timeless track by The Young Rascals reached number one on the charts, probably thanks to its slow-paced rhythm, characteristic of Afro-Cuban music. Felix Cavaliere, the band’s lead vocalist, was highly drawn to this musical style. When we listen to this song, we quickly notice instruments like the conga, typical of Cuban music, the bass, or the harmonica. Such was the success of this song that The Young Rascals decided, a year after its release, to create versions of the song in other languages, including Spanish, French, and Italian.
Tom Jones – Delilah
Tom Jones’ career stands out for achieving countless number ones, among which we find this song, one of the most memorable songs with women’s names in the Anglo-Saxon world (especially).
Despite having a catchy melody that encourages dancing, Delilah hides a rather macabre and gruesome story in its lyrics. Written by Les Reed, Barry Mason, and Whittingham Sylvan, this song tells the story of a man who caught his wife in the act of making love with another person. At dawn, once his wife’s lover leaves the scene, the song’s protagonist ends up killing his wife as revenge. Supposedly, and according to Reed, this entire plot was based on the biblical story of Samson and Delilah.
Tom Jones – It’s Not Unusual
Originally, it was intended for Sandie Shaw, who, after hearing the demo recorded by Jones, decided it would be better for him to release it. And, since then… how many times have we heard this famous song. The lyrics revolve around a heart broken by seeing the person they love with someone else.
And although it’s not unusual to see the song’s protagonist cry over lost love, you surely remember it in such entertaining contexts as the famous Carlton Banks dance scene in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” where even Tom Jones himself made an appearance.
“It’s Not Unusual” not only led to Jones making a cameo in the famous 90s series but also, the song composed by Les Reed and Gordon Mills, catapulted the performer to stardom, previously unknown.
Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
After leaving the group Them, Van Morrison embarked on a solo career that began with this iconic song. It reached the tenth position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, remaining within that ranking for a whopping sixteen weeks.
The lyrics of this piece were deemed excessively risqué for the time and had to be modified. One of the verses referred to “making love in the green grass.” Ultimately, the song’s protagonist had to settle for “laughing and running” with his beloved.
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.