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Music was imprinted directly to my brain when I was six or seven. Lucky thing that 1962 was a good year for songs. Here are ten of over 200 tunes* on radio playlists that year that got downloaded into my head and became part of what I believed a pop song should be.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) - The Tokens

Did I know or care that the basis for The Lion Sleeps Tonight had been recorded in 1939 as Solomon Linda's South African improvised Zulu chant Mbube? No, and I didn't know or care about copyrights, or publishers, or that the orchestra conducted by Sammy Lowe on this record was not like the orchestra that played on my parents copy of Devorak's Symphony #9. It just sounded great.

Green Onions - Booker T. and the M.G.s

Did 17 year old Booker T. Jones set out to create a hit record when he came up with the catchy organ riff on his Hammond M3 that was the basis for Green Onions? The song started out as filler for the "B" side of a slow blues called Behave Yourself, but was soon re-released as the "A" side. And the M.G.s didn't have to worry as much about behaving themselves after that.

The Wanderer - Dion

Dion Francis DiMucci already had one career behind him with his group The Belmonts, who literally sang "do-wop" in I Wonder Why and put 8 songs into the top 30 in the 50's. By 1960, drug and personnel issues started him on a solo career. He discovered his own unique way to deliver a song on his biggest hit Runaround Sue in 1961 and had multiple top ten records in '62. His vocals and the groove on The Wanderer are still amazing.

Big Bad John - Jimmy Dean

Another "B" side that out-shone its"A" side (I Won't Go Huntin' With You Jake, but I'll Go Chasin' Wimmin) Big Bad John features just about the sparest musical arrangement possible- drums, vocal chorus, spoken lead vocal, and a well-played piece of steel. Jimmy Dean wrote it and spoke it and can still bring a tear to your eye when the reverb fades and you hear "At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man".

Tell Him - Exciters

Gotta be straight up klezmer (Jewish instrumental folk music), with a soul twist. Hats off to songwriter Bert Russell Berns, who somehow made these lines into a bridge:

Ever since the world began
It's been that way for man
And women were created
To make love their destiny
Then why should true love be
So complicated?


Bert was also responsible for writing Twist and Shout, Hang on Sloopy and Here Comes the Night, so he can write a bridge anyway he wants. Brenda Reid's vocal on this song reportedly inspired a young Dusty Springfield to switch from folk music to R&B.

That's Life (That's Tough) - Gabriel and the Angels

This one didn't make it into the top half of the charts, peaking at number 51, but it still lives in my head. Like Tell Him, the writer is having some fun with words and meaning. Musically, I like the way the piano and electric guitar lock together on rhythm like one instrument. And the girls singin' "oh, oh, that's tough", and the fact that it's produced by "Virtue Lab".

Love Letters - Ketty Lester

This one is all about how Ketty is singing right inside your head. It's one of those songs, that, even though it's fairly long for a pop tune of the era (at 2:41) sounds like it ends too soon, and I just want to start it all over again to hear the change at the end of the first verse.

Ramblin' Rose - Nat "King" Cole

In 1962, AM radio stations were about the only stations you could get, and they were intentionally limited in power to prevent them from interfering with each other. As a result they played a wide range of music, something for everybody in their assigned area. With songs like this one, and country/western hits, that wasn't a bad thing for a small town. Members of the Wrecking Crew play on this top-flight MOR (Middle Of the Road) production.

I'm Blue - The Ikettes

This is the sort of song that- as Tina Turner would one day explain to Hugh Heffner- had "grease, like you cook vegetables in". The Ikettes were cooking without Tina here, but not without Ike, to be sure. I doubt that they ever played this on old "L7" (square, daddy) WLAN, in Lancaster. I probably heard it on WSBA, from across the river in York PA, where things were a little, ah, greasier.

Duke of Earl - Gene Chandler

The only song of any real importance from 1962. From beginning to end it's absolutely perfect. The uncredited Dukays are like the current in the river, the waves on the ocean, the water on which Chandler walks as he delivers his proclaimation. Verse. Chorus. Verse. Chorus. Then that part with those high notes. Chorus. Then a little bit of that high part again, as it fades away in exactly two minutes and nineteen seconds.

Nothing can stop me now.

*These are 228 songs that charted in the top 100 in 1962.
I heard most of these that year, but have included thirty or so (indicated by !) I have discovered since then that I feel are worth noting.

(Dance With The) Guitar Man - Duane Eddy & the Rebelettes
409 - The Beach Boys
A Swingin' Safari - Billy Vaughn
A Wonderful Dream - Majors
Afrikaan Beat - Bert Kaempfert
Ahab the Arab - Ray Stevens
Air Travel - Ray and Bob !
Alley Cat - Bent Fabric
Anna (Go to Him) - Arthur Alexander
Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird) - Chuck Jackson
Baby Elephant Walk - Lawrence Welk And His Orchestra
Baby It's You - The Shirelles
Beechwood 4-5789 - The Marvelettes
Big Bad John - Jimmy Dean
Big Boat - Peter Paul & Mary
Big Girls Don't Cry - The Four Seasons
Bobby's Girl - Marcie Blane
Bonanza - Johnny Cash !
Boom Boom Boom - John Lee Hooker !
Break It To Me Gently - Brenda Lee
Breaking Up is Hard to Do - Neil Sadaka
Bring It On Home To Me - Sam Cook
Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis
Cast Your Fate To The Wind - Sounds Orchestral
Chains - The Cookies
Cinderella - Jack Ross
Close To Cathy - Mike Clifford
Come On Baby - Bruce Channel
Comin' Home Baby - Mel Torme
Copy Cat - Gary (U.S.) Bonds !
Crying in the Rain - The Everly Brothers
Dancin' The Strand - Maureen Gray !
Dear Hearts And Gentle People - The Springfields
Desafinado - Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd
Devil Woman - Marty Robbins
Do You Love Me - The Contours
Don't Hang Up - The Orlons
Don't Make Me Over - Dionne Warwick !
Don't Break the Heart That Loves You - Connie Francis
Don't Ever Leave Me - Bob & Earl
Don't You Worry - Don Gardner And Dee Dee Ford
Dream - Dinah Washington
Dream Baby - Roy Orbison
Duke of Earl - Gene Chandler
Echo - The Emotions !
Everybody Loves A Lover - The Shirelles
Father Knows Best - The Radiants !
Fly Me To The Moon-Bossa Nova - Joe Harnell
From A Jack To A King - Ned Miller
From the Bottom of My Heart (Dammi, Dammi, Dammi) - Dean Martin
Getting Ready For The Heartbreak - Chuck Jackson
Good Lover - Jimmy Reed !
Green Onions - Booker T. and the M.G.s
Happy Weekend - Dave "Baby" Cortez
Having a Party - Sam Cooke
He Knows I Love Him Too Much - Paris Sisters
Heart In Hand - Brenda Lee
He's a Rebel - The Crystals
Hey Baby - Bruce Channel
Hey Paula - Paul and Paula
Hide & Go Seek (Parts 1 & 2) - Bunker Hill !
Hit Record - Brook Benton !
Hully Gully Guitar - Jerry Reed And The Hully Girlies
I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles
I Don't Love You No More (I Don't Care About You) - Jimmy Norman
I Found a Love - The Falcons and Band (Ohio Untouchables) !
I Just Can't Help It - Jackie Wilson
I Keep Forgettin' - Chuck Jackson
I Know (You Don't Love Me No More) - Barbara George
I Left My Heart In San Francisco - Tony Bennett
I Need Your Loving - Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford
I Really Don't Want to Know - Solomon Burke !
I Remember You - Frank Ifield
I Saw Linda Yesterday - Dickey Lee
I Was Such A Fool - Connie Francis
I've Been Everywhere - Hank Snow
I've Got A Woman (Part 1) - Jimmy McGriff
If I Had a Hammer - Peter Paul and Mary
I'm Blue - The Ikettes
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Johnny Tillotson
Java - Floyd Cramer
Jelly Bread - Booker T. & The M.G.'s !
Johnny Angel - Shelly Fabares
Johnny Get Angry - Joanie Sommers
Lemon Tree - Peter Paul & Mary
Let Me Go The Right Way - The Supremes
Let Me In - The Sensations
Let There Be Drums - Sandy Nelson
Let's Go - Routers
Let's Dance - Chris Montez
Limbo Rock - The Champs
Limbo Rock - Chubby Checker
Limelight - Mr. Acker Bilk
Little Bitty Pretty One - Clyde McPhatter
Little Black Book - Jimmy Dean
Little Red Rented Rowboat - Joe Dowell
Little Tin Soldier - The Toy Dolls !
Little Town Flirt - Del Shannon
Locomotion - Little Eva
Lollipops And Roses - Jack Jones
Loop De Loop - Johnny Thunder
Love Came To Me - Dion
Love Letters - Ketty Lester
Love Me Tender - Richard Chamberlain
Lover Please - Clyde McPhatter
Lovers Who Wander - Dion
Make It Easy On Yourself - Jerry Butler
Mashed Potato Time - Dee Dee Sharp
Me And My Shadow - Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis, Jr.
Midnight in Moscow - Kenny Ball
Midnight Special - Part One - Jimmy Smith
Misirlou - Dick Dale and the Del-Tones
Molly - Bobby Goldsboro
Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers
Moon River - Henry Mancini
Next Door to an Angel - Neil Sedaka
Night Time - Pete Antell
Night Train - James Brown !
Nut Rocker - B. Bumble and the Stingers
Ol' Man River - Jimmy Smith
Only Love can Break a Heart - Gene Pitney
Palisades Park - Freddy Cannon
Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow - Rivingtons
Party Lights - Claudine Clark
Patti Ann - Johnny Crawford
Peppermint Twist - Joey Dee and the Starlighters
Percolator - Billy Joe and the Checkmates
Please Mr. Postman - The Marvelettes
Pop Pop Pop-Pie - Sherrys !
Popeye The Hitchhiker - Chubby Checker !
Potato Peeler - Bobby Gregg & Friends !
Ramblin' Rose - Nat "King" Cole
Remember Then - The Earls
Return To Sender - Elvis
Rinky Dink - Dave "Baby" Cortez
Route 66 Theme - Nelson Riddle
Ruby Baby - Dion
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Four Seasons
Santa Claus Is Watching You - Ray Stevens
Sealed with a Kiss - Brian Hyland
Second Hand Love - Connie Francis
See See Rider - LaVern Baker
Send For Me (If You Need Some Lovin') - Barbara George
Shake Me I Rattle - Marion Worth !
Shake Sherry - The Contours
She Can't Find Her Keys - Paul Petersen
She Cried - Jay and the Americans
She's Got You - Patsy Cline
Sheila - Tommy Roe
Sherry Baby - The Four Seasons
Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out) - Ernie Maresca
Shout - The Isley Brothers
Slow Twistin' - Chubby and Dee Dee
So What - Bill Black's Combo !
So Wrong - Patsy Cline
Soldier Boy - The Shirelles
Some Kinda Fun - Chris Montez !
Still Waters Run Deep - Brook Benton !
Stormy Monday Blues - Bobby Bland
Strange I Know - Marvelettes
Stranger on the Shore - Mr. Acker Bilk
Stubborn Kind Of Fellow - Marvin Gaye !
Summertime, Summertime - Jamies
Surfin' Safari - The Beach Boys
Sweet And Lovely - April Stevens & Nino Tempo
Tell Him - Exciters
Telstar - The Tornados
Ten Little Indians - The Beach Boys
That Happy Feeling - Bert Kaempfert
That's Life (That's Tough) - Gabriel and the Angels
The 2000 Pound Bee (Parts 1 & 2) - The Ventures
The Burning Of Atlanta - Claude King !
The Cha Cha Cha - Bobby Rydell
The Jam (Part 1) - Bobby Gregg
The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens
The Lonely Bull - Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
The Love Of A Boy - Timi Yuro
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Gene Pitney
The Night Has A Thousand Eyes - Bobby Vee
The One Who Really Loves You - Mary Wells
The Stripper - David Rose
The Swiss Maid - Del Shannon !
The Things We Did Last Summer - Shelley Fabares
The Twist - Chubby Checker
The Wanderer - Dion
Theme From A Summer Place - Dick Roman
These Arms of Mine - Otis Redding
Things - Bobby Darin
This Land Is Your Land - Ketty Lester !
This Land Is Your Land - New Christy Minstrels
Three Hearts in a Tangle - James Brown !
Time for Crying - Maxine Brown !
Torture - Kris Jensen
Town Without Pity - Gene Pitney
Trouble In Mind - Aretha Franklin !
Tuff - Ace Cannon
Twist and Shout - The Iseley Brothers
Twist Twist Senora - Gary (U.S.) Bonds
Twistin' the Night Away - Sam Cook
Twistin' White Silver Sands - Bill Blacks Combo !
Two Lovers - Mary Wells
Up on the Roof - The Drifters
Vacation - Connie Francis
Venus in Blue Jeans - Jimmie Clanton
Wah-Watusi - The Orlons
Welcome Home Baby - Shirelles
What Kind Of Fool Am I - Sammy Davis, Jr
What To Do With Laurie - Mike Clifford
What's A Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You) - Timi Yuro
Whats Your Name - Don and Juan
When I Fall In Love - Lettermen
Where Have All the Flowers Gone - Kingston Trio
Wiggle Wobble - Les Cooper & the Soul Rockers !
Wild Weekend - Rockin' Rebels
Wipe Out - The Surfaris
Wolverton Mountain - Claude King
You Are My Sunshine - Ray Charles
You Beat Me to the Punch - Mary Wells
You Belong to Me - The Duprees
You Better Move On - Arthur Alexander
You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover - Bo Diddley !
You Can't Lie To A Liar - Ketty Lester !
You Don't Know Me - Ray Charles
You'll Lose a Good Thing - Barbara Lynn
Your Heart Belongs To Me - The Supremes !
You Really Got a Hold On Me - Percy Sledge
Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah - Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans

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