Songs from 1966

Often hailed as music’s finest year, I’d like to be reminded of the many wonderful tracks that first appeared in those twelve amazing months.

Bob Dylan gave us Blonde On Blonde in 1966, and the Beatles and Beach Boys matched him all the way with Revolver and Pet Sounds respectively.

Best year for music? Of course it’s the best year for music!

There were classic tunes by Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, the Mamas and Papas, Who, Stones, Kinks and more bands with a ‘The’ in than I can count at present.

From the world of television and film, we got the enigmatic ‘Born Free’ and Neal Hefti’s unforgettable Batman Theme (so good that The Who covered it).

There’s also this one, sung by the brilliant Eddie Brigati, whose birthday is today. A Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper in April 1966, as you’ll see from the video, it spent 12 weeks in the Top 40. (Stop, I know what you’re thinking, but ‘Groovin” was actually released the following April.)

I’ll just list five of my favourites, leaving out about 55 that I hope you’ll remember.

– 13th Floor Elevators, ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’
– Eddie Floyd, ‘Knock on Wood’
– The Spencer Davis Group, ‘Gimme Some Loving’
– Cat Stevens, ‘I Love My Dog’
– Sonny Boy Williamson II, ‘Help Me’

So turn off your mind, relax and float downstream… and list some songs from 1966, if you’re not too far-gone after all that mental floating to list, that is.

Our own discussion of Sixties Number Ones may help to jog your memory, and this batch of 200 Sixties songs, courtesy of those nice Pitchfork people, surely will.

By the way, if 1966 wasn’t the best year for music, which was?

If you can’t place the lyrical reference, it was the Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ – the best track off Revolver, perhaps. But, gosh, there are so many others…


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  2. Paul Sexton

    Sonny Boy Williamson II, ‘Help Me’… great song from the year I was born! 8|

    The music from the early 70s was better IMHO.

  3. lorraine

    Lovin’ Spoonful – ‘Daydream’
    Beach Boys – ‘God Only Knows’
    Kinks – ‘Sunny Afternoon’
    Troggs – ‘Wild Thing’
    Walker Brothers – ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’
    The Who – ‘Substitute’
    Simon & Garfunkel – ‘Homeward Bound’

  4. Matt

    Excluding The Beatles because I would have to add them all, here’s a few that bring me back…

    Red Rubber Ball, The Cyrkle
    Born Free, Roger Williams
    Strangers In the Night, Frank Sinatra
    Gloria, Shadows Of Knight
    Get Ready, Temptations

  5. Michèle

    – ‘The Sounds Of Silence’ – Simon and Garfunkel
    – ‘Good Vibrations’ – The Beach Boys
    – ‘Reach Out I Will Be There’ – The Four Tops
    – ‘Monday, Monday’ – The Mamas And The Papas
    – ‘Lady Jane’, ‘Under My Thumb’ – The Rolling Stones

    – Any song from the Jokers Wild EP. 😉 I think it came out in 1966.

    ‘Céline’ – Hughes Aufray – Maybe not ‘Rock & Roll’, but I love it.


  6. Dr Phang

    Nowhere Man
    Black Is Black
    Wipe Out
    If I Were A Carpenter
    Wild Thing
    Californian Dreamin’
    Good Vibrations
    Bus Stop
    Paint It Black
    Tomorrow Never Knows

  7. peter m

    Excluding anything from the Beatles, Hendrix, Dylan & the Stones:

    Homeward Bound – Simon & Garfunkel
    When Something Is Wrong with My Baby – Sam & Dave
    Gimme Some Loving – Spencer Davis
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Sergio Leone
    Happy Jack – Who
    Working in a Coal Mine – Lee Dorsey
    Shapes of Things – Yardbirds

    O hell, you could go on forever. 1966 was a great year. Was it the best? I don’t know how one qualifies that. To me, yo could make a case for most years from the early 60s through about 1975.

    For the sake of argument, I’ll throw ’75 out there as the greatest year. Born to Run, Wish You Were Here, Blood on the Tracks, Patti Smith Basement Tapes, A Night at the Opera, Physical Graffiti, One of These Nights, Tubular Bells, Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy all released in ’75, to name a few.

  8. Taki

    Ah, 1966 – what a year! I myself was also born then, so I must be biased. 😉

    But then Stooges, Stones, CCR, Zepp, Beatles… where to start and where to stop?

    FEd, you are right, could have been the best year for music…


  9. Andrew

    I never thought 1966 as a phenomenal year for music but it did have its bright spots. What amazes me is how quickly artists used to release material back then. It seems that many artists were putting out two albums per year. Now it seems to take two years to put out one album.

    I have to add Donovan and Sunshine Superman as well as Season of the Witch. Both of these songs were on his album released that year Sunshine Superman but I think he had a hit with the song Mellow Yellow which was not on that album.

    I’ll also add 96 Tears by Question Mark & the Mysterians and Black is Black by Los Bravos.

    Who also remembers Snoopy vs. the Red Baron by The Royal Guardsmen? I actually have that 45 somewhere.

    There was also the song that FEd probably sings from time-to-time from Napoleon XIV – They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Ha!



  10. Alessandra

    Good Vibrations (or Sloop John B, or Wouldn’t It Be Nice…) – The Beach Boys
    California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and The Papas
    Paint It, Black – Rolling Stones
    Tomorrow Never Knows – The Beatles
    All Tomorrow’s Parties – The Velvet Underground & Nico
    Hey Joe – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
    Sunshine Superman – Donovan
    Painter Man – The Creation

    • Alessandra

      Some more tracks I forgot to add to my list.

      Blues From an Airplane – Jefferson Airplane
      Hungry Freaks, Daddy – The Mothers of Invention
      Turn! Turn! Turn! – The Byrds (or was it 1965?)

      Good weekend to everyone. 🙂

  11. mikeT

    In ’66 I was three. Probably the theme tune to Trumpton or Camberwick Green would have been my top choice. Suppose. I’m just being an old fart blogger; eh Howard? LOL. Three years later on though came The Archie’s Sugar Sugar. That did grab my attention! Watch that on “whatever tube” and think Wireman.

    PS: Not impartial to all aforementioned tunes. But I’m gonna settle for the Trumpton theme tune.

  12. Hoss

    I was only 4 years old in 1966 (dating myself here) but here is what I liked from 1966:

    Paint It Black – Rolling Stones
    California Dreamin’ – Mamas & the Papas
    Wild Thing – Troggs
    Summer In The City – Lovin’ Spoonful
    Devil With a Blue Dress – Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels


  13. KenF


    I’d forgotten just how many REALLY GREAT songs were around back in ’66.

    It was the year I moved up to Secondary school. I can remember some of the teachers used to run a disco during the lunch break in one of the classrooms, with a nominal entrance fee, to help fund school trips, etc. (as Simon J would say… Happy Days.)

    Anyway here’s a few more from ’66 that I haven’t seen mentioned, yet.

    All Or Nothing – Small Faces
    Bang Bang – Cher
    Eight Miles High – The Byrds
    Get Away – Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames
    Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix
    I’m A Believer – The Monkees
    I Feel Free – Cream
    Just Like A Woman – Bob Dylan
    Keep On Running – Spencer Davis Group
    Pretty Flamingo – Manfred Mann
    Summer In The City – Lovin’ Spoonful
    The More I See You – Chris Montez
    This Old Heart Of Mine – Isley Brothers
    Winchester Cathedral – New Vaudeville Band

    Music really came alive for me from this year onwards.

    1969 in my opinion, was also a very good year. With the likes of:

    Albatross, Man Of The World & Oh Well – Fleetwood Mac
    Bad Moon Rising & Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival
    Delta Lady – Joe Cocker
    Dizzy – Tommy Roe
    For Once In My Life & My Cherie Amour – Stevie Wonder
    He Ain’t Heavy – The Hollies
    Honky Tonk Women – Rolling Stones
    In The Ghetto & Suspicious Minds – Elvis
    Lay Lady Lay – Bob Dylan
    Space Oddity – David Bowie
    Time Is Tight – Booker T
    Where Do You Go To My Lovely – Peter Sarstedt
    Whole Lotta Love – Led Zep

    And many, many, many more.

    • KenF


      I forgot to wish Jon Carin a belated 45th birthday on Wednesday 21st.

      Happy Birthday, Jon.

    • FEd

      Terrific list, Ken; I wondered if anyone would recall ‘Pretty Flamingo’.

      Love ‘All Or Nothing’.

      I have to agree with you: 1969 was none too shabby. We’ll repeat the exercise for 1969, 1975, and any other year that’s convincingly put forward for consideration. I’m sure that 1967 should be, but I’m also thinking 1965…

  14. Marc

    Forgive me for being a slightly off track, but what a coincidence concerning the recommendation of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me”. For that song alone, 1966 gets my vote (even though I was only 2)!

    It is a true, one-of-a-kind song for me that I have only recently discovered (~3 weeks ago) by way of hearing the Junior Wells’ cover of it as a tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson who taught Junior some of his harmonica skills.

    So… if you are a fan of the blues and haven’t yet heard either version, I respectfully suggest you spend the time to track them down. I have found them musically inspirational and emotionally uplifting. I hope you do too.

    Cheers from Canada,

  15. lorsomething

    I had to google this one. I sure couldn’t remember.

    I agree with you, FEd, on the Spencer Davis Group. ‘Gimme Some Loving’ is still a favorite. And then there’s Wilson Pickett’s ‘Mustang Sally;’ the Moodies did ‘Go Now’; and the Beatles’ gave us ‘Yesterday.’ And does anyone remember ‘Rescue Me’ by Fontella Bass? I loved that song.

    As for the best year for music, how about 1973, the year of Dark Side of the Moon? It was different than everything before it and changed everything after. Great year for music! 🙂

    • FEd

      Yes, I remember ‘Rescue Me’. Love it.

      But I believe it was released in 1965, as was ‘Yesterday’.

      See? Now we have to focus on 1965. 😉

      Speaking of Fontella Bass, hers is a compilation album that I’d highly recommend. She was always vastly under-rated.

  16. Pete - Coventry

    Distant memories now but I actually remember a double ‘A’ side single being being released by The Beatles in 1966:

    Paperback Writer / Rain

    Also Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks came out around that time also.

  17. Michael de Socio

    Good year for jazz too!

    Miles Davis: Miles Smiles
    Cecil Taylor: Unit Structures
    Wayne Shorter: Adams’ Apple
    Duke Ellington: The Far East Suite

    Ennio Morricone: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

    Otis Redding: Otis Blue


  18. Melissa(*_*)

    Just got back in from another short camping trip. I think this was my fourth time camping in the last month and a half. My back is sore, my hands are chapped and I smell like a smoked ham. :v

    Anyway, I’m ready to relax and float downstream with some songs from ’66.

    ‘Summer Wind’- Frank Sinatra
    ‘I’m Your Puppet’- James and Bobby Purify
    ‘The Sounds of Silence’- Simon and Garfunkel
    ‘Gloria’- Shadows of Knight
    ‘Lil’ Red Riding Hood’- Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

    • FEd

      Melissa, you’ve reminded me: Sinatra at the Sands was recorded and released in 1966. What a live album that is.

      Didn’t Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ come out in 1966, too?

    • Melissa(*_*)

      That’s right, Fed.

      It’s nice to check in here and see all your lovely smiling faces while the world keeps turning.

  19. NewYorkDan

    1966 was a GREAT year for people, as I was born January 21 of that year. (BTW, FEd, how do I go about getting my birthday on the calendar?)

    I’m not familiar enough with the music scene of 43 years ago to know what was released in that exact year, not without copying what has already been posted here. But there was so much great music in the mid 1960s. All those bands you mentioned above, plus the gestation of other bands that would go on to greatness. The Pink Floyd was building a following and impressing would-be record execs, The Soft Machine were starting, while all future members of Crosby Stills Nash & Young were honing their craft in different bands. Same with the future members of ELP and Led Zep.

    It was a time when music had not yet been co-opted by An Industry, when musicians were ready and able to try new things, a time when music was voicing the dreams and the ideals of its generation.

    That all changed in the following decades, so that the music of the mid 70s no longer had that mood. Even less so in the 1980s and beyond. With the advent of punk and new wave, music no longer represented the dreams and ideals of a generation, but had become a platform to express angst. By the 80s, music had become a money maker for record companies, had altogether lost its status as the voice of the people.

    • NewYorkDan

      Thanks for putting me on the calendar, FEd. Thanks also for the video link. Yes, the Hollies were great. I enjoyed this clip.

  20. Andrew

    There were a number of future metal artists that were born in 1966 including:

    Dimebag Darrell (Pantera, Damageplan)
    Tracii Guns (Guns N’ Roses, Brides of Destruction, L.A. Guns)
    Paul Gilbert (Racer X, Mr. Big)
    Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains)
    Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme)

    Also Jeff Healey, Edie Brickell and Sinead O’Connor were all born in 1966.

    Then outside of the rock world there was Janet Jackson and Rick Astley.

    I’m sure there are others.



  21. rob

    UGGGH, wrote out a reply which got lost in the ether…

    Anyways – I’ll rewrite as best I can.

    I am totally getting back into the Beatles at the moment, got the White album in the car, but I am also playing Revolver constantly.

    I think any of the songs on there could be a contender here – especially TNK, I’m Only Sleeping, Here There and Everywhere (used beautifully in Friends for one of the wedding scenes played on a steel drum). Just a wonderful collection of timeless songs.

    And you can’t argue with that cover art either!

    I also can’t believe we are considering 1966 as one of the finest (if not the finest) year for music – on Mr Gilmour’s website???

    Although I am sure he would probably agree – modest as he is.

  22. NewYorkDan

    My vote for another year to do a Blog about, is 1969. Great early albums from Led Zep, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed, CrosbyStillsNash, King Crimson. Great music from established acts like Miles Davis, The Who, The Beatles.

    I could go on forever about 1969, but then there would be nothing left for the blog discussion.

    • FEd

      It shall be done, Dan – thanks.

      1969 for me is all about ‘White Room’ by Cream. What a track that is.

  23. fanniefarkle

    Frank Sinatra released Strangers in the Night, and the Beach Boys had Good Vibrations.

    Poor Elvis, he was still stuck in terrible soundtracks (Spinout, anyone?).

  24. Bruce

    I Got You – James Brown
    When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge
    Lay Lady Lay – Bob Dylan
    96 Tears – Mysterians
    Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers
    Homeward Bound – Simon and Garfunkel
    Gloria – Shadows of Night
    5 O’clock World – Vogues
    Nowhere Man – BEATles
    Bus Stop – The Hollies

    I can’t think of a better year than ’66 if there was one.

  25. Jeremy

    Have to go for Pet Sounds as the best thing about 66.

    I do think 1967 eclipsed 1966 though for sheer excitement, as Rock acts started to release albums and singles that were as well produced as they were written and in most cases (not the Beatles of course) went on to produce ever greater performances.

    Has any one mentioned the stamps being released by Royal Mail next year? Some good choices, some not so good and some glaring omissions! Division Bell is a good choice, but surely DSOTM would have been a better one as well as a more obvious one. No Sgt Pepper and no …….. and why is ……… there?

    • FEd

      Ooh, I love to fill in blanks. Let’s see…

      No Sgt Pepper and no Country Life by Roxy Music and why is Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head there?

      (In answer to your second question, I think it’s because many people in Britain would quite like to see the Queen lose part of her head, if not the whole thing, French-style. What do you think?)

      Am I right and, if so, what do I win? 😉

    • Andrew

      No, the one that should be portrayed on a postage stamp is The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking.



  26. Alessandra

    I know I’m off topic, but I just have to share it. 😀

    This was in the window of a shop, here in my city, so I had to take a picture of it. I hope I chose the right code from Photobucket.

    What do you think of it?

    I was wondering who could buy something like that, but, searching the web, I discovered that Courtney Love even played it in front of an audience. :))

  27. GothmogDave

    Interesting bit of news which I just heard about – two of the Pink Floyd performances of “See Emily Play” of Top Of The Pops in July 1967 have apparently been found. Pretty historical performances, so it is good they have lived for posterity after all!

    More information here.

  28. James Mickelson

    😀 My favorite song is definitely Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive”, one of the very first psychedelic instrumental improvisations recorded by a rock band. It was seen as Pink Floyd’s first foray into space rock, along with “Astronomy Domine”.

    This riff originated when early Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner was trying to hum a song he couldn’t remember the name of (most commonly identified as Love’s cover of “My Little Red Book”) :v . Barrett followed Jenner’s humming with his guitar and used it as the basis for the principal melody of “Interstellar Overdrive”. Roger Waters once told Barrett that the song’s riff reminded him of the theme tune from Steptoe and Son (by Ron Grainer).

    It was first recorded as a demo on 31 October 1966. 8)

    Other alternate early versions that survive include one used as a backing track for a Canadian Broadcasting Company interview with the band in December 1966.

    ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ has been covered by many artists, including Particle, Hawkwind, Camper Van Beethoven, The Melvins, moe., Spiral Realms, Pearl Jam and The Mars Volta.

  29. Jeremy

    Ooh, I love to fill in blanks. Let’s see…

    No Sgt Pepper and no Country Life by Roxy Music and why is Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head there?

    Unbelievable, I actually bought an old copy of Country Life last week and yes as much for the sleeve as for the vinyl enclosed within. In fact just about any of Roxy’s sleeves could warrant a place above those of Coldplay/Blur/New Order.

    (In answer to your second question, I think it’s because many people in Britain would quite like to see the Queen lose part of her head, if not the whole thing, French-style. What do you think?)

    Am I right and, if so, what do I win?

    As the first person to get all the questions right, you win my collection of used British stamps, all of which have had the Queens head removed.

  30. younglight

    1. My own newborn cry
    2. Interstellar Overdrive (direct from UFO club)
    3. Sunshine Superman
    4. Eight Miles High
    5. Paint it Black
    6. I Feel Free

    …and all Beatles’ gems…

    • FEd

      Only this one. The above post shouldn’t be published anywhere else, so please do let me know where you’ve seen it.

  31. snow

    This isn’t a song from 1966, but it is a song about a car that was made in 1966/67. I’ve chosen 1966 because I own a 1966 one myself.

    It gave a smile.