by Norman Warwick

Coming into the decade, things looked bleak for music in the 1960s, Catherine Walthall recently reminded us in American Songwriter. On February 3, 1959, a plane crashed, killing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. It was the day the music died, as Dom McLean  would later remind us, And even before that, Elvis Presley, “The King,” had been drafted in 1958. To put it simply, music needed new heroes. And thankfully, the sixties delivered.

As somebody who turns seventy this month in 2022, I spent my halcyon days in the sixties in bell bottom trousers and floral shirts. I agree with the sentiments above expressed by Catherine and in truth, I could have completed a top ten for almost every month of that decade, and they would all conjure up vivid memories.

I was never fortunate to meet Rod Stewart´s Maggie, or Mrs. Robinson, but I know that, even now, I remember the girl who finished with me by simply not meeting turning up outside The Mayfair in Whitefiled to watch The Graduate as we had arranged..

It would be rude, though, to argue with any of Ms. Walthall´s choices, so think of me instead as a football manager using substitutes to give other stars a rest. She is right that Brown Eyed Girl leaves no excuse for not dancing, so Van Morrison can stay on the pitch.

Catherine identified Here Comes The Sun by George Harrison  and was right in saying it left a generation unable not sing the doo doo doo doos every time we heard it then, still hear it now and will hear it in the future. Much more importantly, though, it cemented Harrisons place in Beatle legend.

Surfin´ USA deserved Catherine´s selection. It comes from the opening pages of The Beach Boys Story and I could have picked one of scores of the group´s songs. This 1963 hit fixed them synonymously with The California Sounds so deserves to be in any top ten.

Do You Believe In Magic, John Sebastian and his somewhat bohemian mates asked us, in the middle of the decade. The yes we do response was as definite and as full of child-like incredulity as the later response to Bob The Builder.

But speaking of Bob The Builder I was going to need to renovate this chart of Catherine´s into, precisely, my own taste. The sixties were my teenage years, when I moved from a ten year old singing along to I Remember You by Frank Ifield and Bobby´s Girl by Susan Maughan, which I still think of as one the catchiest songs I know. We had both those records at home but they were bought by my parents and I want this chart to be of records that I actually bought for myself.

My first choice, Daydream Believer, is still sung on the football terraces today, or at least the chorus is. The verses now are interchangeable and directed at any manager in charge of a football team near the bottom of the league. Sunderland boss Peter Reid was often mock-comforted by that glorious chorus of Cheer Up Peter Reid,…….

Daydream Believer is a song composed by American songwriter John Stewart shortly before he left the Kingston Trio. It was originally recorded by the Monkees, with Davy Jones singing the lead. The single reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in December 1967, remaining there for four weeks, and peaked at No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart. It was the Monkees’ third and last No. 1 hit in the U.S.

In 1979, Daydream Believer was recorded by Canadian singer Anne Murray, whose version reached No. 3 on the U.S. country singles chart and No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has been recorded by others, including a 1971 version by Stewart himself.

The song title was featured in the name of the 2000 biopic about the band, Daydream Believers: The Monkees’ Story and I have to say I could have picked a number of Monkees tracks. They were the soundtrack of that particular summer and shaped my musical tastes forever.

Billboard described the single as a “well written easy beat rhythm ballad” with a “clever opening.” Cash Box said that it has “fascinating arrangements that develop from a simple piano opening to a compelling ork ensemble and the hypnotic repetition of a very catchy refrain.” According to Variety, the song’s lyrics focus on the endgame of a comfy but increasingly distant relationship, with the narrator “caught in mid-gaze before the bathroom mirror, reflecting on the quiet dissolution of his materialistic marriage – a union between ‘a daydream believer and a homecoming queen,’ now curdled, driven more by money than by romance.

RCA Records did not like the song as written by Stewart, and insisted on changing a critical word. Stewart originally wrote: “Now you know how funky I can be,” but RCA wanted to change it to “Now you know how happy I can be,” as one meaning of “funky” is “smelly.” Stewart initially objected because the change would completely reverse the meaning of the line and would not make sense in the context of the song. He relented because RCA was adamant and Stewart realized that the song could be a hit. In 2006, Stewart said that the proceeds from “Daydream Believer” “…kept me alive for (many) years.”]

In 1986, three of the four Monkees (Dolenz, Jones and Tork) mounted a successful reunion tour and had a major hit with the newly recorded “That Was Then, This Is Now.” Arista Records, which owned the Monkees’ masters at the time, re-released “Daydream Believer” as a follow up single, remixed with a new and heavier percussion track by Michael Lloyd, who had produced “That Was Then, This Is Now.

 The Archies is a fictional American band that features in media produced by, and related to,  Archie Comics. They are best remembered for their appearance in the animated TV series The Archie Show. In the context of the series, the band was founded by vocalist/guitarist Archie Andrews, bassist Reggie Mantle, drummer Forsythe “Jughead” Jones, vocalist/keyboardist Veronica Lodge and vocalist/percussionist Betty Cooper. In the cartoons, Veronica is shown playing a large keyboard instrument styled after the X-66, a then-current top-of-the-line organ made by the Hammond Organ Company.

The music featured in the series was recorded by session musicians, including Ron Dante on lead vocals and Toni Wine on duet and backing vocals. The recordings were released as a series of singles and albums that achieved worldwide chart success. Their most successful song, “Sugar, Sugar“, became one of the biggest hits of the bubblegum pop genre that flourished from 1968 to 1973.

In compiling this chart I realise I chewed a lot bubblegum  on that long haul flight towards the Americana music I now love. This song was particularly irresistible with a chorus I couldn´t stop singing.

Even now I still think Feelin´ Groovy is far too,…..well, groovy I guess, to have ever deserved the epithet of The 59th Bridge Street Song. Simon and Garfunkel broke the sounds of silence  by asking ´hello, lampost, watcha knowin, I´ve come to watch your flowers growin´. It was an infectious song that made the ordinariness of  ´looking for fun and feelin´ groovy  sound quite extraordinary ! Notwithstanding that kids today don´t know what groovy means (did we ever?) it would take a teenager today with a heart of stone not to drop his hoody and smile when hearing this. Whether by Simon and Garfunkel themselves or by Harpers Bizarre the song set us all out ´kicking up the cobblestones !¨

photo 4 Nobody has ever addressed the title of this next song to me but I loved Baby, You´re A Rich Man that I have to include this as my Beatles entry into my top ten positive songs of the sixties.

In fact, the song includes the rare sound of a clavioline. It is one of the best-known pop songs to make use of this  monophonic keyboard instrument that was a forerunner to the synthesizer. Lennon played the clavioline on its oboe setting, creating a sound that suggests an Indian shehnai.

I became in 1967 the self-appointed record buyer at Stand Youth Club in Whitefield and this was the first record I boughtt and it became hugely popular with my YC pals. It was in fact only a B side, to All You Need Is Love, but when I listened to it for the first time after putting my purchase upside down on my gramophone deck I played it so often at the club that we hardly ever hear the dirge that was the A side !

Baby, You’re a Rich Man originated from an unfinished song by John Lennon, titled “One of the Beautiful People”, to which Paul McCartney added a chorus. The song was recorded and mixed at Olympic Sound Studios in London, making it the first of the Beatles’ EMI recordings to be entirely created outside EMI Studios.

Lennon wrote his portion of the song after attending the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream, an all-night festival held at London’s Alexandra Palace that served as a key event in the emergence of the counterculture in the UK. His lyrics address the “beautiful people” of the 1960s hippie movement and combine with the chorus to present a statement on the universality of non-material wealth. The lyrics have also invited interpretation as a message to the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, and alternatively as a comment on fame. George Harrison performed the song during his visit to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district in August 1967, at the height of the Summer of Love. The track later appeared on the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour album. Parts of it were used in their 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine.

“Baby, You’re a Rich Man” peaked at number 34 on America’s Billboard Hot 100 chart. Among reviewers’ varied comments on the song, Billboard admired it as “an Eastern-flavored rocker with an infectious beat and an intricate lyric”, while Pitchfork has dismissed it as “a second-rate take on John Lennon’s money-isn’t-everything theme”. 

This teenager who grew up into a man obsessed by lyrics and poetry didn´t pay as much attentio0n to words in those days, and so it is for its musical content rather than lyrical that Baby,.. earns its place here.

 The Beatles recording was later  at the end of the 2010 film The Social Network, about the rise of Facebook.

Most teenagers around in the sixties will have realised that our age group seemed to be split into either Beatles fans or followers of The Rolling Stones, but with hindsight we have perhaps learned that the real musical rivalry was between The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

The Beatles might have built a wider, more solid, more enduring body of work (although history might yet be the judge of that) but The Beach Boys I think just touched a slightly higher ceiling. Was there ever a song as glorious as Good Vibrations? The song still makes me so happy, that I well-up every time I hear it. Brian Wilson´s arrangement was so dense, his production so full, that it is a song even the worst singer in the world (and I am definitely number one in that poll) can sing along with unreservedly because any voice would find a home in that incredible choral sound. Even now, just thinking about it, I´m picking up Good Vibrations,….and I love that line of ¨I don´t know where, but she takes me there,´ even though I didn´t quite know what that meant at the time, and although I´m sure I eventually learned what I meant, at seventy, now, I can´t quite remember.

Like many songs written by Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka “Venus in Blue Jeans” was a happy to be in love song.  it was written in 1962  and recorded by Jimmy Clanton that same year and reached No. 7 on the Billboard charts and No. 5 on the CHUM Chart in Toronto. The song was originally listed as the “B” side to the record with “Highway Bound” listed as the “A” side. Radio disc jockeys preferred the “B” side and it became a hit.

The song was also recorded that year by English singer, Mark Wynter, whose release succeeded in reaching No. 4 on the UK charts. It was this version I loved and given that for many years l would fall in love with every Venus In Blue Jeans who passed me by, (and they all did). Nevertheless, all it took me was,….

Just One Look, as the Hollies later put it. Once again I could have included just about any of the almost always uplifting singles by my local group The Hollies. I lived only ten miles from Manchester and would bunk off school some afternoons to get into the city for an evening performance by the group at The Twisted Wheel. At the time, as now, I think of The Hollies as one of the most musical groups of the sixties but I also loved their story-telling. They turned a meeting at a Bus Stop into a Mills and Boon style novel, and I fell in love with Carrie Anne and Jennifer Eccles as much as they did.

Although The Hollies wrote some of their own work, this song, Just One Look, is a song co-written by American R&B singers Doris Troy and Gregory Carroll. The recording by Doris Troy was a hit in 1963. The HolliesAnne Murray and Linda Ronstadt each achieved great success with the song. There have also been many other versions.

Details vary as to how the Doris Troy version came to be released on Atlantic Records. According to the book Billboard Book of One-Hit WondersJames Brown saw Troy performing in a nightclub (under her then-stage name Doris Payne), and introduced her to Atlantic. According to a more recent and detailed story in Soulful Divas, Payne recorded a studio demo of the song and took it to Sue Records first, but their lack of response led her to offer it to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic, where the label released the demo unchanged. The personnel included Ernie Hayes on piano, Wally Richardson on guitar, Bob Bushnell on bass and Bernard Purdie on drums.

Just One Look became a hit in the United Kingdom via a cover by The Hollies which reached No. 2 on the Record Retailer chart in April 1964. It became the 37th biggest hit of the year. Although not a major U.S. hit in its original release, the Hollies’ Just One Look marked the first appearance of the band on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 98. A U.S. re-issue in 1967 reached No. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Listen to its wonderful rising harmonies today and hear how former Hollie, Graham Nash, and his friends Crosby and Stills  replicated, and slightly refined, that sound a few years later.

Sharing the same music-hall attitudes of Freddie And The Dreamers didn´t prevent Herman´s Hermits from adding a positive sing-along string to the sixties, and it was a toss up for me to choose between You Were Made For Me, from Freddie And The Dreamers and Herman´s Hermits debut number one, I´m Into Something Good.

I chose Into Something Good because it retains a bit more street-cred perhaps, and also because it was the start of a more sustained career for Peter Noone (Herman) in particular. The group were very much part of the so called ´British Invasion´ of the American charts of the sixties. We didn´t so much sing-along as we did smile-along with Herman´s Hermits and their hits, because lead singer Noone had an infectious grin and cheeky chappy pronunciations and sparkling eyes that had him loved by girls and their mums and their grannies.

I´ve surprised myself by how little rock there has been so far in my top ten uplifting and happy songs of the sixties. It is, though, purely a list of the first ten such songs that came into my head, and so it is now we move from a Venus In Blue Jeans to a Proud Mary who was never quite the woman we imagined.

Proud Mary is a song written by John Fogerty and first recorded by his band Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was released by Fantasy Records as a single from the band’s second studio album, Bayou Country, which was issued by the same record company and is generally considered to have been released in early January 1969, although one source states that it came out just before Christmas 1968. The song became a major hit in the United States, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1969, the first of five singles to peak at No. 2 for the group.

A cover version by Ike and Tina Turner, released two years later in 1971, did nearly as well, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning a Grammy Award.

In a 1969 interview, Fogerty said that he wrote it in the two days after he was discharged from the National Guard. In the liner notes for the 2008 expanded reissue of Bayou Country, Joel Selvin explained that the songs for the album started when Fogerty was in the National Guard, that the riffs for Proud Mary, Born On The Bayou, and Keep On Chooglin’ were conceived by Fogerty at a concert in the Avalon Ballroom, and Proud Mary was arranged from parts of different songs, one of which was about a washerwoman named Mary.

The line “Left a good job in the city” was written following Fogerty’s discharge from the National Guard, and the line “rollin’ on the river” was from a movie by Will Rogers.

Proud Mary’s singer, a low-wage earner, leaves what he considers a “good job,” which he might define as steady work, even though for long hours under a dictatorial boss. He decides to follow his impulse and imagination and hitches a ride on a riverboat queen, bidding farewell to the city. Only when the boat pulls out does he see the “good side of the city”—which, for him, is one in the distance, far removed from his life. Down by the river and on the boat, the singer finds protection from “the man” and salvation from his working-class pains in the nurturing spirit and generosity of simple people who “are happy to give” even “if you have no money.” The river in Fogerty and traditionally in literature and song is a place holding biblical and epical implications. … Indeed, the river in “Proud Mary” offers not only escape but also rebirth to the singer.

The song is a seamless mix of black and white roots music … Proud Mary is, of course, a steamboat traveling up and down the river. Fogerty’s lyric sketches out a vivid picture of the protagonist finding a comfortable niche in a community of outsiders … The story connects back to Mark Twain; it brings the myth [of “the rambling man and life along the Mississippi“] into the sixties.

Billboard described Proud Mary as a “driving blues item with a strong beat.” Cash Box described it as “a steady moving mid-speed chunk of funk and rhythm that will make itself felt in both pop and underground spots.”  Cash Box ranked it as the No. 55 single of 1969.

All that background (above) is pretty much stamped on my heart, because this and its forerunner, Bad Moon Rising, built the bridge I had to cross to move into the land of Americana.

Now that Proud Mary has got me all funked up I think I need something to cool me down. I´ll settle for (One More) Frozen Orange Juice (or a fourpenny Jubbly as we called them up North), something quintessentially English., before I cross that bridge to the music of Americana.

I say quintessentially English but as I sing the lyrics in my head I remember the song seems to be set in the hills of Madrid. I don´t think it was the location that resonated with us, though. It was that line at the end of the chorus about ´this fantastic day´ that could have been referring to the entire decade. And it resonated because the singer sang the adjective affirmatively and emphatically in three precise and clearly enunciated syllables.

And yet a day that represented a decade was reduced again in the following line of ´in the morning when you wake up, I´ll be on my way´.

I can´t honestly recall if I ever heard the song on the radio, but Dad, who had loved Where Do You Go To My Lovely, which was Sarsted´s world-wide number one hit, and so had bought one those clunking eight track cartridges, a Sarstedt compilation, to play in the car. Every day for months I listened to this song a couple of times as dad drove me and my brother to the school gates.

Sarstedt sometimes is dismissed nowadays as having been a one- hit wonder but songs like Frozen Orange Juice, and I Am A Cathedral, on the same cartridge as Where Do You Go To, My Lovely, remind us more reliably of what a talent he really was.

Peter Eardley Sarstedt (10 December 1941 – 8 January 2017) was a British singer-songwriter and instrumentalist. He was the brother of singers Eden Kane, a teenage pop idol and Clive Sarstedt, both of which he also recorded and performed with as The Sarstedt Brothers.

Although his music was classified as pop, it generally encompassed ballads derived from traditional folk music rather than traditional rock and roll. He was best known for writing and performing the song “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?“, which topped the UK Singles Chart in 1969. Set to a “faux European waltz tune” it has been described as “a romantic novel in song”. It won an Ivor Novello Award and remained Sarstedt’s biggest hit. He had one more hit single and one hit album but despite numerous releases never had chart success again.

Sarstedt continued to tour mainly in 1960s revival-type shows, until his retirement in 2010 due to ill health. Although he died in 2017 the songs of Peter Sarstedt will survive in perpetuioty.

My wife´s top ten songs of positivity from the sixties shows Otis Redding Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay, fishing and wishing and wasting time in pole position,….

Her choice óf (We´re All Going On A) Summer Holiday (with Cliff) has more to do with her desire for the young, good-looking Cliff Richard than a desire to go where the sea is blue. They all went on a big-red bus, which you can´t get any more, and set off on a summer holiday (which pretty soon no one will be able to afford any more.

It is very rare for my wife and >I to agree on anything to do with music, but I was pleasantly surprised by the lazy, what a day for a Daydream by The Lovin´Spoonful being being in her top ten. Catherine had chosen Do You Believe In Magic and I would porobably have fone for Summer In The City.¨

She told me she wanted to include The Four Tops in her list but then rold me she couldn´t remember any of their songs, so chose instead All Bound For MOrningtown by The Seekers, (having been reminded of it only because we had heard on the radio that their singer Judith Durham had passed away that morning.

My wife, Dee, honoured her first love, for Motown music, to which she has remained faithful to this day, by selecting You Can´t Hurry Love by The Supremes,  but she still had, and still has now, a thing for Cliff so he was in again at number five with The Day I Met Marie, ´because it´s really bouncy´, she said, whatever that means. Because she remembers the chorus to Ob La Di, The Beatles get to be in her top ten at number six, followed by Frank Sinatra at number seven. When I asked why she had chosen his 1968 version of The Impossible Dream she told me it was because ´it´s an inspirational song´, and reminded me how she and I used to sing it as a comedy duet to her mum when we were washing up !

 Despite the fact that for the last six weeks she has been halfway through a book about Aretha Franklin that is driving her mad she has picked I Say A Little Prayer For by Aretha.

There was a saving grace at number ten in her chart with Ride A White Swan by T Rex. This was another song we could agree on, or it would have been had it been released in the sixties, but my wife doesn´t care like I do about songs and their writers and their chronology in the way I do, which she says is just a typical man thing.

Instead she lumps all songs together, and even when I try to share my love with her by playing one of the very favourite songs on my playlists her eyes look away as tells me, ´yes, its quite nice´!


a recommended playlist by

Sidetracks And Detours

Daydream Believer      by The Monkees

Sugar Sugar                  by The Archies

Feelin´ Groovy            by Simon & Garfunkel


You´re A Rich Man     by The Beatles

Good Vibrations          by The Beach Boys

Venus In Blue Jeans    by Mark Wynter

Just One Look              by The Hollies

Into Something Good by Herman´s Hermits

Proud Mary                  by CCR

Frozen Orange Juice    by Peter Sarstedt

Dock Of The Bay         by Otis Redding

Summer Holiday          by Cliff Richard

Daydream                     by The Lovin´Spoonful

Morningtown Ride      by The Seekers

Can´t Hurry Love        by The Supremes

The Day I Met Marie   by Cliff Richard

Ob La Di                       by The Beatles

Impossible Dream        by Frank Sinatra

I Say A Little Prayer    by Aretha Franklin

Ride A White Swan     by T Rex

follow sidetracks & detopurs

and take happy trails

After governmental intervention quelled The famous pirate radio ship invasion of what had previously been sedate sound waves, the legacy of the sixties was that music that was deemed popular by the kids found its way on to BBC radio stations so more kids could hear it. Certainly BBC Radio 2 has been a bastion of any non-threatening pop music like that from the sixties for three, nearly four, decades now. However BBC Radio 1, seen for so long as the home of contemporary pop and chart music is turning down all sorts of niche sidestreets and maybe no longer serves as well as it once did the everyday young listeners.

Radio 2 now seems to be addressing what was once the younger radio 1 audience and  people like me, of the hip-op generation have to look elsewhere for our sixties fix.

Thank goodness then for the emergence of Boom Radio which we mentioned on these pages at the start of the year. This week The Daily Mail published what could have been a footnote to that report.

Eleanor Sharples, tv and radio correspondent for the newspaper wrote that this is ´Boom time for the golden oldies broadcasting from their sheds: Newly launched radio station aimed at baby boomers sees audience surge as it coaxes over-50s from the BBC´.

Her article revealed that Boom Radio has seen a 29% rise in over-50s tuning into in the last six months whilst  BBC Radio 2, which has an older audience, has seen a 5% drop in these numbers.

The Boom Radio  presenters, all veteran DJs, include David Hamilton (right) , Graham Dene, Judi Spiers and Kid Jensen and even Pete Murray returned to radio after 20 years, aged 96, to host a show last Christmas

At a time when radio stations are desperately trying to woo young listeners, it’s good to know that those of a greater age still have somewhere to tune in to.

Indeed, it seems Boom Radio, which only went on air in February last year, is coaxing older listeners away from BBC Radio 2 – which is now seeking a more youthful following.

Some of its presenters, like David Hamilton, have achieved all this whilst broadcasting from their sheds at home

Many of its presenters – which apart from  David Hamilton, 83, also include Graham Dene, 73, Judi Spiers, 69, and Kid Jensen, 72 – came out of retirement to fulfil these current toles.

In fact, later this month the wonderful and still mischievous Johnnie Walker, 77, will present a special programme.

In July Radio 2 axed 67-year-old Steve Wright’s afternoon show in what is believed to be part of moves to cut the age of its presenters. This happened after a period that saw Boom Radio pull in 336,000 weekly listeners in April to June 2022.

The station  was founded by radio veterans Phil Riley and David Lloyd to specvifically target those born between 1946 and 1964 – Baby Boomers.

It was funded by friends and colleagues.

Mr Riley said: ‘These results are beyond our wildest dreams. Older music fans now feel they are not served by the BBC.’

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Radio 2 remains committed to its multi-generational appeal and we’re thrilled over 14.5million listeners are tuning in each week.’

photo boom It was our Lanzarote neighbours Sarah and Martin Boyle who zoom about between here and the UK, who first recommended Boom Radio and my wife is now an avid listener and plays it loudly enough for it to fileter through into my editorial suite (bedroom). The music, of course, is great but what Dee loves is how unhurried and informative the presenters are, giving interesting facts about release daters, sales fugres, the arts and songwriters and contextualising a track with a reflection on the current affairs of its day.

The music of my youth has now become music for grown ups and so deserves the reverence afforded by the Boom broadcaster.

We are the baby boomers, long-forgotten, but we´re back and with a soundtrack that sounds as vital and fun as it did more than half a century ago.  

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