1962: 20 songs released in 1962 you must hear

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The year 1962 – short summary

  • France transfers sovereignty to new republic of Algeria (July 3)
  • Cuban Missile Crisis: USSR to build missile bases in Cuba; Kennedy orders Cuban blockade, lifts blockade after Russia backs down (Aug.-Nov.)
  • Cuba releases 1,113 prisoners of 1961 invasion attempt (Dec. 24)
  • James H. Meredith, escorted by federal marshals, registers at University of Mississippi (Oct. 1)
  • Marilyn Monroe dies of a drug overdose at age 36
  • Johnny Carson takes over hosting duties of The Tonight Show
  • The first transatlantic television transmission occurs via the Telstar Satellite, making worldwide television and cable networks a reality
  • Movies: Lawrence of Arabia, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Manchurian Candidate, Divorce-Italian Style
  • Deaths: Niels Bohr, William Faulkner, Ernie Kovacs & Eleanor Roosevelt


  • Only one song per artist/group
  • The song must be released that specific year
  • Songs from live albums not allowed (that’s another & more complicated list)
  • Please feel free to publish your own favorite songs from 1972 in the comments section…

AND lists like this are supposed to be fun! Don’t take it too seriously.

Here we go…

  • Do You Love Me – The Contours

    Recorded by The Contours for Motown’s Gordy Records label & released as a single June 29, 1962. Written and produced by Motown CEO Berry Gordy, Jr., “Do You Love Me?” was the Contours’ only Top 40 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. Notably, the record achieved this feat twice, once in 1962 and again in 1988. A main point of the song is to name the Mashed Potato, The Twist, and many other fad dances of the 1960s.

    You broke my heart
    ‘Cause I couldn’t dance
    You didn’t even want me around
    And now I’m back
    To let you know
    I can really shake ’em down

  • Mixed-Up Confusion – Bob Dylan

    Written by Bob Dylan and he recorded it with an electric band on November 14, 1962 during the sessions for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, but it was not used on that album, which, aside from “Corrina, Corrina”, was entirely acoustic. Instead the song, backed with “Corrina, Corrina” (a different take than the Freewheelin’ one), a traditional blues song, appeared as Dylan’s first single, released in the U.S. on 14 December 1962 as Columbia 4-42656. According to legend, Dylan wrote the song in a cab on the way to the Columbia Studios for the recording session.

    I got mixed up confusion
    Man, it’s a-killin’ me
    Well, there’s too many people
    And they’re all too hard to please

  • She Thinks I Still Care – George Jones

    george jones she thinks i still care
    Written by Dickey Lee and Steve Duffy and became the third C&W number 1 hit for George Jones, spending six weeks at No. 1 in the spring/summer of 1962.
    Released September 1962 (recorded June 18, 1962).

    Just because I ask a friend about her
    Just because I spoke her name somewhere
    Just because I rang her number by mistake today
    She thinks I still care

  • Green Onions – Booker T. and the MGs

    green onions - Booker T & Mg's
    An instrumental R&B hit recorded in 1962 by Booker T. & the M.G.s. The tune is a 12-bar blues with a rippling Hammond M3 organ line.
    Released as a single in September 1962.

  • Boom Boom – John Lee Hooker

    john lee hooker boom boom
    A song written by American blues artist John Lee Hooker and recorded in 1961 & released as a single May 1962.  Music critic Charles Shaar Murray calls it “the greatest pop song he ever wrote”. “Boom Boom” was both an American R&B and Pop chart success in 1962 as well as placing in the UK Singles Chart in 1992. It is one of Hooker’s most identifiable and enduring songs and “among the tunes that every band on the [early 1960s UK] R&B circuit simply had to play”.

    Boom, boom, boom, boom
    I’m gonna shoot you right down
    Right off your feet
    Take you home with me
    Put you in my house

  • These arms of mine – Otis Redding

    otis redding these arms of mine
    His first single on Stax (released October 1962), with “Hey Hey Baby” on the B-side. After a series of unsuccessful songs, “These Arms of Mine” became Redding’s first successful single and sold around 800,000 copies. The song was later included in Redding’s debut album, Pain in My Heart.

    These arms of mine they are lonely
    Lonely and feeling blue, these arms of mine
    They are yearning, yearning from wanting you

  • Take These Chains From My Heart – Ray Charles

    ray charles take these chains
    Originally a 1953 single by Hank Williams with His Drifting Cowboys.
    Ray Charles released his version on the album “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Volume Two” (October 1962).

    Take these chains from my heart and set me free
    Take these chains from my heart and set me free
    You’ve grown cold and no longer care for me
    All my faith in you is gone but the heartaches linger on
    Take these chains from my heart and set me free

  • Having A Party – Sam Cook

    sam cooke having a party
    Released on May 8, 1962 by RCA Victor.
    Produced by Hugo & Luigi and arranged and conducted by René Hall, the song was the B-side to “Bring It on Home to Me”. The song peaked at number four on Billboard’s Hot R&B Sides chart, and also charted at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100.

    We’re having a party
    dancing to the music
    played by the DJ
    on the radio
    the cokes are in the icebox
    the popcorn’s on the table
    me and my baby, we’re out here on the floor

  • I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry – Dexter Gordon (from GO!)

    A 1945 song, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Sammy Cahn.
    Dexter Gordon released his version on the album “Go!” –  his the tenth studio album recorded on August 27, 1962 & released later in 1962.

  • Twist & Shout – The Isley Brothers

    the isley brothers twist and shout
    A 1961 song written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns (later credited as “Bert Russell”). The song was originally titled “Shake It Up, Baby” and recorded by the Top Notes. It first became a chart hit as a cover single (released June 16, 1962) by the Isley Brothers.

    Well, shake it up, baby, now
    (Shake it up, baby)
    Twist and shout
    (Twist and shout)

  • Desafinado – Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd

    Desafinado - Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd
    Released on the album “Jazz Samba”  – a bossa nova album, released on the Verve label on April 20, 1962.

  • Night Train – Jame Brown

    Night Train - Jame Brown
    “Night Train” is a twelve-bar blues instrumental standard first recorded by Jimmy Forrest in 1951.
    James Brown recorded “Night Train” with his band in 1962, and it was released as a single in March 1962. His performance replaced the original lyrics of the song with a shouted list of cities on his East Coast touring itinerary (and hosts to black radio stations he hoped would play his music) along with many repetitions of the song’s name.

    All aboard for night train
    Miami, Florida
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Raleigh, North Carolina

  • The loco-motion – Little Eva
    A 1962 pop song written by American songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King. The song is notable for appearing in the American Top 5 three times – each time in a different decade, performed by artists from three different cultures: originally African American pop singer Little Eva in 1962 (U.S. No. 1).

    Everybody’s doin’ a brand new dance now
    (C’mon baby do the loco-motion)
    I know you’ll get to like it
    If you give it a chance now
    (C’mon baby do the loco-motion)
    My little baby sister can do it with ease
    It’s easier than learning your a b c’s
    So come on, come on,
    Do the loco-motion with me

  • You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me – The Miracles
    Written by Smokey Robinson and became a 1962 (released November 9, 1962) Top 10 hit single for the Miracles on the Tamla (Motown) label. One of the Miracles’ most covered tunes, this million-selling song received a 1998 Grammy Hall of Fame Award. It has also been selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It was covered by English rock group the Beatles on their second album, With the Beatles.

    I don’t like you, but I love you
    Seems that I’m always thinkin’ of you
    You treat me badly, I love you madly
    You’ve really got a hold on me
    (You really got a hold on me)
    You really got a hold on me
    (You really got a hold on me)

  • Up On The Roof – The Drifters
    A song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and recorded & released late in 1962, it became a major hit in early 1963, reaching #5 on the U.S. pop singles chart and #4 on the U.S. R&B singles chart.

    When this old world starts getting me down
    And people are just too much for me to face
    I climb way up to the top of the stairs
    And all my cares just drift right into space

  • Pride – Ray Price
    Released on his 1962 album “Night Life”.

    You know that you’re doing lots of things that ain’t right
    You’re out with a different party almost every night
    And you’re making me look like a crazy fool
    So why do I have these doubts about leaving you?

  • He’s a Rebel – The Crystals
    A Billboard Hot 100 no. 1 in November 1962 (released August 1962). Written by Gene Pitney and produced by Phil Spector, it is considered one of the definitive examples of the Spector-produced girl group sound. In 2004, the song was ranked No. 263 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
    See the way he walks down the street
    Watch the way he shuffles his feet
    My, he holds his head up high
    When he goes walking by, he’s my guy

  • Return To Sender – Elvis Presley
    Recorded on March 27, 1962, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood & released September 5, 1962.
    Written by Winfield Scott and Otis Blackwell.

    I gave a letter to the postman,
    He put it his sack.
    Bright and early next morning,
    He brought my letter back.
    She wrote upon it:
    Return to sender, address unknown.
    No such number, no such zone.

  • Without A Song – Sonny Rollins (The Bridge)
    Released on his 1962 album “The Bridge”.
    The Bridge, 1962 was the first release of jazz giant Sonny Rollins following his unexpected early retirement in 1959 and his first recording for Bluebird/RCA Victor.

  • Party Lights – Claudine Clark
    Released as a single in 1962.

    (Party lights, I see the party lights
    (They’re red and blue and green)
    (Oh everybody in the crowd is there)
    Mama, I wanna go go go go go go, yeah yeah yeah yeah
    (Mama, mama)


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 Sources: Wikipedia, Allmusic.com


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