1964: 20 Songs Released in 1964 You Must Hear

The Year 1964 world events

  • Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa (June 11).
  • Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin Resolution after North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly attack US destroyers (Aug. 7).
  • Khrushchev is deposed; Kosygin becomes premier and Brezhnev becomes first secretary of the Communist Party (October).
  • China detonates its first atomic bomb.
  • Three civil rights workers—Schwerner, Goodman, and Cheney—murdered in Mississippi (June).
  • President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy issues Warren Report concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

My rules:

  • Only one song per artist/group
  • The song must be released that specific year
  • Songs from live albums not allowed
  • Restricted to only 20 songs

  • The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll – Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan_The times they are a changin
    A topical song written by the American musician Bob Dylan. Recorded on October 23, 1963, the song was released on Dylan’s 1964 album, The Times They Are a-Changin’ and gives a generally factual account of the killing of a 51-year-old barmaid, Hattie Carroll, by William Devereux “Billy” Zantzinger.

    William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
    With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger
    At a Baltimore hotel society gath’rin’
    And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him
    As they rode him in custody down to the station
    And booked William Zanzinger for first-degree murder
    But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
    Take the rag away from your face
    Now ain’t the time for your tears

  • The Ballad of Ira Hayes – Johnny Cash

    johny cash ballad of ira hayes
    Released on “Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian”, October 1, 1964.

    Call him drunken Ira Hayes
    He won’t answer anymore
    Not the whiskey drinkin’ Indian
    Nor the Marine that went to war

  • A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

    Written by John Lennon, and credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was released on the movie soundtrack of the same name in 1964.

    It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’d been working like a dog
    It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
    But when I get home to you I find the things that you do
    Will make me feel alright

  • Gloria – Them

    Written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and originally recorded by Morrison’s band Them in 1964 and released as the B-side of “Baby, Please Don’t Go” 6 July 1964.

    Like to tell ya about my baby
    You know she comes around
    She about five feet four
    A-from her head to the ground

  • Little Red Rooster – The Rolling Stones

    Released as a single November 13, 1964.

    I am the little red rooster
    Too lazy to crow for day
    I am the little red rooster
    Too lazy to crow for day

  • Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison

    roy orbison oh pretty woman
    Recorded on the Monument Records label in Nashville, Tennessee, it was written by Roy Orbison and Bill Dees. The song spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

    Pretty woman, walking down the street
    Pretty woman, the kind I like to meet
    Pretty woman
    I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth
    No one could look as good as you

  • A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

    sam cooke a change is gonna come
    Released on December 22, 1964 by RCA Victor.
    Produced by Hugo & Luigi and arranged and conducted by René Hall, the song was the B-side to “Shake”.

    I was born by the river in a little tent
    Oh, and just like the river I’ve been running ever since

  • My Home is The Delta – Muddy Waters

    Released on Folk Singer, the fourth studio album by Muddy Waters, in April 1964 on Chess Records. The album features Waters on acoustic guitar, backed by Willie Dixon on string bass, Clifton James on drums, and Buddy Guy on acoustic guitar. The record is Waters’ only all-acoustic album.

    Well my home’s in the delta,
    Way out on that farmer’s road.
    Now you know I’m living in Chicago,
    And people, I sure do hate to go.

  • Nadine – Chuck Berry

    chuck berry nadine
    Released as a single in February 1964, it was the first music that Berry released after finishing a prison term in October 1963.

    As I got on a city bus and found a vacant seat
    I thought I saw my future bride walking up the street
    I shouted to the driver, “Hey conductor, you must slow down
    I think I see her, please let me off the bus”

  • You Really Got Me – The Kinks

    kinks you really got me
    Written by Ray Davies and performed by The Kinks. It was released on 4 August 1964 as the group’s third single, and reached No. 1 on the UK singles chart the next month, remaining for two weeks. It was the group’s breakthrough hit; it established them as one of the top British Invasion acts in the United States, reaching No. 7 there later in the year. It was later included on the Kinks’ debut album, Kinks.

    Girl, you really got me goin’
    You got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’
    Yeah, you really got me now
    You got me so I can’t sleep at night

  • The House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals

    the animals - house of the rising sun
    Released as a single 19 June 1964 (UK) & August 1964 (U.S.).
    Dave Marsh described The Animals’ take on “The House of the Rising Sun” as “…the first folk-rock hit,” sounding “…as if they’d connected the ancient tune to a live wire.”

    There is a house in New Orleans
    They call the Rising Sun
    And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
    And God, I know I’m one

  • Hat & Beard – Eric Dolphy

    eric dolphy out to lunch
    Released on Out to Lunch!, Eric Dolphy’s only recording for Blue Note Records as a leader. Today it is generally considered one of the finest albums in the label’s history, as well as one of the high points in 1960s jazz avant garde and in Dolphy’s discography.

  • My friends are gonna be strangers – Merle Haggard

    Written by Liz Anderson.
    Best remembered as American country musicartist Merle Haggard’s first national top ten record.

    Oh, the love you promised would be mine forever
    I would have bet my bottom dollar on
    Well, it sure turned out to be a short forever
    Just once I turned by back and you were gone

  • The Race Is On – George Jones

    George Jones - The-Race-Is-On
    Written by country music artist George Jones and Don Rollins and made a hit by George Jones. It was the first single released from his 1965 album of the same name. Released as a single in late 1964, it peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and at number 96 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1965.

    I feel tears wellin’ up cold and deep inside
    Like my heart’s sprung a big break
    And the stab of loneliness, sharp and painful
    That I may never shake
    Now you might say that I was taking it hard
    Since you wrote me off with a call
    But don’t you wager that I’ll hide the sorrow
    When I may break right down and bawl

  • Amsterdam – Jacques Brel

    It combines a powerful melancholic crescendo with a rich poetic account of the exploits of sailors on shore leave in Amsterdam.Brel never recorded this for a studio album, and his only version was released on the live album Enregistrement Public à l’Olympia 1964. Despite this, it has been one of his most enduringly popular works.
    Dans le port d’Amsterdam y’a des marins qui chantent
    Les rêves qui les hantent au large d’Amsterdam
    Dans le port d’Amsterdam y’a des marins qui dorment
    Comme des oriflammes le long des berges mornes

  • Crescent – John Coltrane

    Released on Crescent, a 1964 studio album by jazz musician John Coltrane, released by Impulse! as A-66. It features his jazz quartet group of McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones playing all original Coltrane compositions, with the leader playing tenor saxophone exclusively. It is commonly regarded as the saxophonist’s darkest album. Only the brief, infectious medium-up “Bessie’s Blues”, and a samba-tinged groove in the midsection of the otherwise sedate “Wise One”, break the sombre mood.

  • Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley

    Written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson and most famously performed by Elvis Presley. It is a tale of unrequited love during the holidays and is a longstanding staple of Christmas music, especially in the country genre.

    I’ll have a Blue Christmas without you
    I’ll be so blue thinking about you
    Decorations of red on a green Christmastree
    Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me

  • Dancing In The Street – Martha & The Vandellas

    It is one of Motown’s signature songs and is the group’s premier signature song.

    Callin’ out around the world
    Are you ready for a brand new beat?
    Summer’s here and the time is right
    For dancin’ in the streets

  • You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling – The Righteous Brothers

    righteus brothers you've lost that lovin feeling
    A 1964 song by The Righteous Brothers which became a number-one hit single in the United States and the United Kingdom the following year. In 1999, the performing-rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) ranked the song as having had more radio and television play in the United States than any other song during the 20th century. Additionally, the song was chosen as one of the Songs of the Century by RIAA and ranked #34 on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone.

    You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips
    And there’s no tenderness like before in your fingertips
    You’re trying hard not to show it, (baby)
    But baby, baby I know it

  • Mr. Pitiful – Otis Redding

    otis redding mr pitiful
    Written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper and released on the 1965 album The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads.

    They call me Mr. Pitiful
    Baby thats my name now, oh
    They call me Mr. Pitiful
    That’s how I got my fame

These came close:

  • Walk On By – Dionne Warwick
  • The Leader Of The Pack – The Shangri-Las
  • The Girl From Ipanema – Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto
  • I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself – Dusty Springfield
  • Go ‘Way From My Window – John Jacob Niles
  • Don’t Worry Baby – Beach Boys
  • Ain’t nothin’ you can do – Bobby Bland
  • Hold what you’ve got – Joe Tex
  • My Heart Skips A Beat – Buck Owens
  • Chug-a-Lug – Roger Miller
  • Once a Day – Connie Smith

Spotify Playlist:

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