Songs from 1963

The Beatles and ‘From Me to You’ was the UK #1 on this day in 1963 (it was Little Peggy March and ‘I Will Follow Him’ in the US). It was indeed the year of the Liverpool mop-tops, who enjoyed great coverage as Beatlemania swept the globe.

They had their first hit single with ‘Please Please Me’, from their debut album of the same name, earlier in the year. The Rolling Stones released their first single, ‘Come On’. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Dylan’s second album, from which so many epic songs came; includes the inspirational opener, ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, and my personal favourite, ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’, through his biting ‘Masters of War’ and the touchingly poignant ‘Bob Dylan’s Dream’, with its mournful ending to which I’m sure we can all relate:

“I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
That we could sit simply in that room again
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that”

Dylan’s naked rage and truculence, though, is tempered by the time of the album’s close with delightful puckishness. The record must truly be a contender for Best Ever Side One, but that can be a blog for another day.

There were three albums by the Beach Boys in this year – Surfin’ USA, Surfer Girl and Little Deuce Coupe – boasting songs now embedded irremovably in the soul of any music aficionado of worth. From the second of these comes quite possibly the most beautiful of songs ever written, with a tenderness and harmonies unsurpassed, included in the below list.

It was another year of guitar instrumentals, from not only The Shadows (‘Foot Tapper’) and Surfaris (‘Wipe Out’), but also The Spotnicks (‘Just Listen To My Heart’) and Tornados (‘Robot’). You have got to see the video to the latter.

Granted, there were some stinkers. Another song I (thankfully) forgot and thus omitted from even my second list of tunes with a girls’ name in the title is the turgid ‘Hey Paula’ by Paul and Paula, a song made up of two singers telling each other that they want to marry. Horrible. See for yourself, here.

It is but a minor flaw in an otherwise fine year, though. Here are six of my favourite songs from 1963, several of which have been covered by The Beatles, which I leave to you to spot. Not included is Buddy Holly’s ‘Brown-Eyed Handsome Man’, also from 1963 and more recently included on Paul McCartney’s Run Devil Run album, which of course featured our David. Neither is ‘You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me’ by The Miracles, but that’s because it’s not from 1963, but 1962.

You can blithely and correctly assume a fondness for the Beatles and Bob Dylan, as I may have mentioned a preference for them once or twice previously, so I leave them out here. I think that, even in their absence, it’s a respectable list of strong tunes representing another victory for Sixties over Seventies. What say you?

– Beach Boys, ‘In My Room’
– The Big Three, ‘Some Other Guy’
– The Chiffons, ‘He’s So Fine’
– Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, ‘Do You Want To Know a Secret’
– Martha and The Vandellas, ‘(Love Is Like a) Heatwave’
– Roy Orbison, ‘In Dreams’

Also on my list for future blogs, by the way, to be written whenever the mood takes me, is sounds in song; from the “oomph pah pah” of ‘My Little Baby’ by Mike Berry and The Outlaws to The Crystals’ ‘Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)’. Yes, 1963 sure was a great year for silly noises.

As it was for falsetto. The Four Seasons and ‘Walk Like a Man’, covered by David’s Jokers Wild, springs to mind. The most impressive of them all, however, has to be Lou Christie’s very admirable and unlikely-to-be-impersonated-with-honour-on-too-many-occasions ‘Two Faces Have I’.

So, for all you ascetics and dreamers, have a look back at 1963: a time when you could sing about staying in your bedroom without sounding like a pervert or a geek. The girls had undoubted class, the boys had a certain vulnerability that made them relatively harmless. Doesn’t it almost make you long for a return, even only momentarily, to the innocence and folly of youth?

Anyway, if you can’t find at least half a dozen songs that you like from this year, I don’t know what’s the matter with you.

The chatroom will be open tomorrow from 3pm (UK).

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

28 thoughts on “Songs from 1963”

  1. I’d be lying through my teeth if I claimed to have any conscious memory of 1963 other than possibly listening to my Mom singing ‘Polly Put the Kettle On’, ‘See, Saw, Marjorie Daw’ or ‘Three Blind Mice’ to me.

    Some notables:

    Do Wah Diddy Diddy” originally recorded by The Exciters (for the sounds blog)
    Blue Velvet – Bobby Vinton (I always think of the movie ‘Blue Velvet’ when I hear this and ‘In Dreams’ referenced by FEd)
    Blue Bayou – Roy Orbison
    Just One Look – Doris Troy
    Days of Wine and Roses sung by Andy Williams
    Mocking Bird – Inez and Charlie Foxx
    One Fine Day – The Chiffons
    Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash (Nando’s, a chicken peri-peri joint used the song in one of their commercials :)) )
    Puff the Magic Dragon – Peter Paul and Mary (I’ve seen a very disturbing tattoo 😮 )
    Louie Louie – Kingsmen
    My Boyfriend’s Back – originally recorded by the Angels
    Hippy Hippy Shake – Swinging Blue Jeans/Beatles (jury is out on who recorded it first)
    Harlem Shuffle – Bob & Earl
    Cherry – Rivingtons (falsetto & sounds/‘63 or ‘64?)
    Blame It On The Bossa Nova – Eydie Gorme
    Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer – Nat King Cole
    Can I Get A Witness – Marvin Gaye (Grand Funk Railroad snuck this in to Some Kind of Wonderful)
    Down The Aisle (Wedding Song) – Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles
    (You’re The) Devil in Disguise – Elvis Presley

    Off the top of my head, The Beatles did a cover of ‘Some Other Guy’ and ‘Do You Want To Know a Secret’.

    Oh, and Edith Piaf died in 1963!

  2. 1963 was a classic year.

    I think that was the year my parents bought our first record player.

    I seem to recall my mum ran a ‘catalogue club’ and every month there was leaflet which came with all the latest single releases, which we would peruse through and then send-off for our pick of the “45’s” of the moment, although by the time you got them things had obviously moved on.

    To me ’63 was the dawning of my musical awareness, Happy days…

    Atlantis – The Shadows
    Be M(a)y Baby – The Ronettes (Whoops, wrong thread!!!)
    Charade – Johhny Mercer/Henry Mancini
    Don’t Talk To Him – Cliff Richard
    Every Time I Think About You – Ricky Nelson
    From Russia With Love – Matt Munro
    Geronimo – The Shadows
    He’s So Fine – The Chiffons
    I Only Want To Be With You – Dusty Springfield
    Just Like Eddie – Heinz
    Keep Your Hands Off My Baby – Little Eva
    Lucky Lips – Cliff & The Shadows
    Move Over Darling – Doris Day
    Navy Blue – Diane Renay
    On The Beach – Cliff & The Shadows
    Pipeline – The Chantays
    Queen For Tonight – Helen Shapiro
    Ring Of Fire – Johhny Cash
    Sweets For My Sweet – The Searchers
    Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa – Gene Pitney
    (The)Ugly Bug Ball – Burl Ives
    Viva Las Vegas – Elvis
    Wives And Lovers – Jack Jones
    Xcruciatingly difficult to find one for ’63
    You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry & The Pacemakers (How could you miss this one, FEd!!!)
    Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah – Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans

    1. You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry & The Pacemakers (How could you miss this one, FEd!!!)

      Kicking myself. I thought it was early-1964.

      Another notable Beatles cover, ‘Keep Your Hands Off My Baby’.

  3. Amazing Pink Floyd collection will arrive this year, I hope some day Division Bell Immersion Box Set comes out. Tell David please FEd.

  4. I don’t have any insight into the music of ’63 that could add to the fine essay you’ve already shared with us. But I DO want to share the fairly ho-hum news that the deal that was recently signed between Pink Floyd and EMI has spawned another repackaging of all their old material. What’s noteworthy this time around is that some of the re-issues will include unreleased material (though, no-doubt, the real fans will already have most of this material — if not all of it). This material (all 14 albums plus the rarities) is remastered by James Guthrie, the co-producer of The Wall.

    1. Nick Mason tells us more about the reissues and release of rarities in Rolling Stone magazine – here.

  5. I can’t believe it, not a single mention of ‘You Will Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry & The Pacemakers? 😛 Aren’t you happy with their recent super-wins? Go Reds! (BTW, Lille is at the top of our ‘Ligue1′, at the moment. Very proud of that.)

    The Four Seasons’ ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ was also covered by Jokers Wild, I think, but I don’t know it’s from 1963.

    Here, in 1963, Yves Montand was singing ‘Le Chant De La Libération’ (that is ‘Le Chant Des Partisans’, hymn of resistance here, especially during WWII).

    Edith Piaf and Jean Cocteau died in 1963.

    1. I can’t believe it, not a single mention of ‘You Will Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry & The Pacemakers? 😛 Aren’t you happy with their recent super-wins? Go Reds!

      I’m very happy indeed with the turnaround. Bring on Spurs.

      ‘How Do You Do It’ and ‘I Like It’ are also worthy of mention. Their first three singles, including ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, topped the UK chart.

  6. This has nothing to do with 1963 but uh, “So ya thought ya might like to go to the show.”

    Seriously, my British cousins, if you were wondering if you should go to “the show” for its run at the O2, wonder no more.

    Back in December, I went and I marvelled.

    So go, TONIGHT if possible (you never know if a certain guitarist my turn up).

    Take care and enjoy that space cadet glow.

    1. I shall be in the queue clasping my little ticket on Saturday night Josh.

      As I repeatedly remind F’ed of this in the chatroom, I’m sure David has scrapped all his other plans and got some childcare lined up just so he can be there on the night.

      Otherwise I’ll just have to content myself with Man Utd tying up the Premier League and hoping that Man City can keep up their 35 year losing streak.

  7. The record must truly be a contender for Best Ever Side One, but that can be a blog for another day.


    That statement may confuse some of the younger participants on this blog as for them the “Best Ever Side” is all one side of a CD. Of course if all you do is digital downloads then there isn’t even one side.

    Nevertheless, it would be an interesting topic.

    By the way, isn’t it amazing how some former double LP releases can be squeezed into one side of a CD? And you don’t have to pay double the price like you did way back when.



  8. Just One Look ~ Doris Troy
    Baby Work Out ~ Jackie Wilson
    Up On The Roof ~ The Drifters
    You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me ~ The Miracles
    Another Saturday Night ~ Sam Cooke
    And Then He Kissed Me ~ The Crystals
    Pride And Joy ~ Marvin Gaye
    Fingertips, Part II ~ Little Stevie Wonder
    Blowin’ In The Wind ~ Peter, Paul and Mary
    Pipeline ~ The Chantays
    Ruby Baby ~ Dion

    My Boyfriend’s Back ~ The Angels :))

    Peace out, y’all!

    1. Apologies Gabrielle, I didn’t mean you were “someone”, who mentioned Sam Cooke’s song. I didn’t pay proper attention whilst reading the blog. Foot in mouth moment. 😮

      Could swear we mentioned it somewhere in recent posts. Damn!

      ash X

    2. Hey Ash,

      Don’t be silly ~ I would never be offended by being referred to as ‘someone’! :)) As much time as I’ve been spending In My Room, metaphorically speaking (favorite Beach Boys’ song, BTW), I’m happy to be recognized at all. 🙂 Looking forward to a day when I Shall Be Released, but that’s a song for another year … ’67 if I’m not mistaken.


  9. FEd, I know you like this one:

    Glad All Over – The Dave Clark Five

    Others that are special are:

    Love Potion No. 9 – The Searchers
    Be My Baby – The Ronettes
    Anyone Who Had a Heart – Dione Warwick
    Blue Bayou – Roy Orbison
    Surfin’ USA – Beach Boys

    Wondering which is your favourite Beatles song from this year. Mine is easy: She Loves You.

    1. Tough one. I’ll go for something unexpected, as I do love Lennon’s vocal on ‘This Boy’, the ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ B-side.

      I also have a soft spot for ‘Baby, It’s You’ from Please Please Me.

      But you can’t argue with the band’s big breakthrough single in the States: ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’. So much nicer than ‘I Wanna Sex You Up’. Remember that? ‘Please Please Me’ is a bit special, too. Then again, aren’t they all?

      ‘I’ll Be on My Way’ is nice, too.

  10. Here are just a few that I can remember.

    Hey Paula – Paul & Paul
    Surfin’ USA – Beach Boys
    Da Doo Ron Ron – Crystals
    Wipe Out – The Safaris
    Sugar Shack – Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs
    Little Town Flirt – Del Shannon


  11. Well, so many of the ones I had on my list have gone. Here’s hoping this list has something not mentioned yet. 🙂

    Another Saturday Night by Sam Cooke. Although I could swear we/someone mentioned that recently somewhere.

    On Broadway by The Drifters.

    Surf City by Jan and Dean. They sounded a bit like the Beach Boys but I don’t remember them ever achieving so much fame.

    I Only Wanna Be With You by Dusty Springfield.

    I Wanna Be Your Man by The Rolling Stones.

    I can’t understand why I didn’t discover Bob Dylan until several years later. 😐

    Doctor Who first appeared on British TV screens in 1963. I loved it and we all stayed in to see it and talked about it when we went out to play again. I know of two links, maybe three, between Dr Who and Pink Floyd and I’m thrilled to know they must be fans too. (There’s a topic of conversation if we ever meet David other than the same old, ” I love everything you’ve ever done”, not that that wouldn’t be true of course, but he must get so bored hearing it.)


  12. Apart from the already mentioned albums by Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Beach Boys, which I really love, I don’t know much about 1963 music.

    Some songs I know and I like:

    Otis Redding – Pain in My Heart
    Kingsmen – Louie Louie
    The Ronettes – Be My Baby
    Ray Charles – Take These Chains from My Heart
    The Righteous Brothers – Little Latin Lupe Lu
    Joan Baez – We Shall Overcome

    I agree about “In My Room”. It’s a very beautiful song. 🙂

    1. And not a mobile phone or camera in sight, just some binoculars and tears here and there. Good stuff.

    2. It’s the woman at 2.12 that gets me, looks like someone’s mum who insisted on coming along and then wished she hadn’t.

Comments are closed.