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1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 200 to 191

Hands, touching hands. Reaching out, touching me, touching you.

200.  “Save My Soul,” Wimple Winch.  Songwriters: Demetrius Christopholus, Johnny Kelman; Did Not Chart; 1966.  Wimple Winch formed in Liverpool in 1963, first recording Beatles influenced material using the name Just Four Men.  They changed their name in 1966 when they adopted a more aggressive rock sound, which has alternately been described as psychedelic rock, protopunk and freakbeat.  The band carries their pride like a burning cross on “Save My Soul,” which is carried by a heavy bassline in the verses then explodes in the chorus.  Wimple Winch demonstrated their diversity by creating an interesting, self-contained rock opera with their 1967 single “Rumble on Mersey South Square.”  Shunned by the marketplace, Wimple Winch disbanded during the summer of love.  Decades later the malevolent rockers were namechecked by Guided By Voices mastermind Robert Pollard as a major influence.

199.  “Then He Kissed Me,” The Crystals.  Songwriters: Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry; #6 pop/#8 R&B; 1963.  Delores “La La” Brooks, the only Crystal to sing on “Then He Kissed Me,” on the instructions she received from Phil Spector, “He said, ‘Think of somebody kissing you.’  I was a kid, so I’m not going to think like that.  So he would turn off the lights, I would have a little light on my music, on my words, and then he said, ‘Now, concentrate.’ And I said (singing), ‘Well, he walked up to me and he asked me if I wanted to dance.’  He said, ‘That’s the way you do it!’  So I guess he had to train my mind to think that I was talking about a boy.  He knew how to get things out of you.”  Dee Dee Kenniebrew of The Crystals on Spector’s Wall of Sound production style, “He’d go in and lay down beautiful vocals and backgrounds, and by the time he’d go in and overdub and overdub with more musicians he’d bury the original song.  We had done a few other records before we did ‘And Then He Kissed Me’ that were just mish-mash because it was too much.  But we were paying the cost.  He could stay in the studio for a week because it was coming out of our money and he wasn’t paying for it.  Well, coming out of your money if he ever decided to pay you.”

198.  “Time Has Come Today,” The Chamber Brothers.  Songwriters: Willie Chambers, Joseph Chambers; #11; 1967.  The Chamber Brothers were Mississippi natives who formed a gospel and folk oriented act in Los Angeles in 1954.  The worked in obscurity until performing at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, then started moving toward a psychedelic soul sound.  The Chamber Brothers had their first Top 40 entry in 1968 with their cover version of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose.”  Their signature hit, the soul power greeting to the protest generation “Time Has Come Today,” demonstrated how far you could go in the 1960s with a cowbell and an unforgettable guitar riff.  Willie Chambers on the power of his composition, “When we started playing it in the clubs, people went absolutely crazy, I mean they were screaming. It was frightening for some, they’d just grab ahold of their heads and run out the door.”

197.  “Baby, I Love You,” The Ronettes.  Songwriters: Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich; #24 pop/#6 R&B; 1963.  Rock critic Andrew Unterberger, “Nobody in pop history has ever ‘whoa-oh’ed quite like Ronnie Spector, and likely the finest utterance of her signature non-verbal came as the lead-in to the thundering drums and bellowing winds of ‘Baby I Love You.’ Never matched, the song’s testimony of unreserved devotion and affection has nevertheless made it an easy target for decades of covers, including by The Ramones and Cher — the latter of whom also sings backup on the original recording.”  Ronnie Spector was called away from tour to record “Baby, I Love You,” resulting in the other Ronettes not being on the record (Elaine Mayes, a cousin of Ronnie, was a replacement for the live dates and the public was seemingly none the wiser).  Phil Spector also produced the Ramones version of “Baby, I Love You,” resulting in a Top Ten U.K. hit in 1980.  Ronnie Spector on the punk movement, “In the ‘70s, I’d go to CBGB and see Blondie and the Ramones, and they were calling me up onstage.  I didn’t know punk, but they knew me.”

196.  “Hi-Heel Sneakers,” Tommy Tucker.  Songwriter: Robert Higginbotham (Tommy Tucker); #11 pop/#1 R&B; 1964.  Ohio native Robert Higganbotham started playing piano for R&B bands in the late 1940s and apparently spent some time as a Golden Gloves boxer during the 1950s.  His sole hit was “Hi-Heel Sneakers,” a shuffle in the Jimmy Reed tradition with staccato guitar licks provided by Welton “Dean” Young.  Lyrically, there’s almost nothing like “Hi-Heel Sneakers” during this era, with Tucker instructing his woman to put her wig hat on her head and his admission to exchanging his paycheck for some old crow liquor.  Tucker sounds more street legit than hot poured asphalt.  Shortly after “Hi-Heel Sneakers” was released, Sugar Pie DeSanto had a minor R&B hit with her footwear answer song “Slip-In Mules (No Hi-Heel Sneakers).”

195.  “Arnold Layne,” Pink Floyd.  Songwriter: Syd Barrett; Did Not Chart; 1967.  During the psychedelic rock era, it was possible for a song about a transvestite who went on clothesline panty raids to be played on the conservative BBC.  Roger Waters, “’Arnold Layne’ was actually based on a real person.  Both my mother and Syd’s mother had students as lodgers because there was a girls’ college up the road so there were constantly great lines of bras and knickers on our washing lines and ‘Arnold’ or whoever he was, had bits off our washing lines.  What was so stunning about Syd’s songs was, through the whimsy and the crazy juxtaposition of ideas and words, there was a very powerful grasp of humanity.  They were quintessentially human songs. And that is what I’ve always attempted to aspire to.  In that sense, I feel a strong connection to him.”

194.  “I Fought the Law,” The Bobby Fuller Four.  Songwriter: Sonny Curtis; #9 pop; 1965.  As a teenager in El Paso, Bobby Fuller fell in love with the music of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly and started releasing local singles in the early 1960s.  After moving to Los Angeles and working with producer Bob Keane, The Bobby Fuller Four had their breakthrough hit with “I Fought the Law.”  Sonny Curtis of The Crickets penned the number and his band released an underproduced version of this consequence warning regarding anti-authority escapades in 1960.  Fuller’s Stratocaster sound may have harkened back to the pre-British Invasion sounds of Buddy Holly, but the sentiment was timeless.  “I Fought the Law” was famously covered by The Clash in 1979 and Hank Williams, Jr., perhaps momentarily thinking he had joined Parliament-Funkadelic, cut a bass popping country hit version in 1978.

193.  “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted,” Jimmy Ruffin.  Songwriters: William Weatherspoon, Paul Riser, James Dean; #7 pop/#6 R&B; 1966.  Jimmy Ruffin was the older brother of Temptations member David Ruffin and he started his recording career in 1961.  He didn’t have his breakthrough hit until 1966’s “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted,” a song initially written for The Spinners.  Ruffin, “I’d been working for the Ford motor company and I had a back injury that kept me off work.  So I thought I’d use that year to see if I could make it as a singer. ‘Brokenhearted ‘came out and that was it.  I didn’t go back to the motor company, I can tell you that!  But the pressure is incredible. A lot of people died from the pressure, including my brother David.   Suddenly you’re moving up in society, going to places you’re not really prepared for – beyond your own race, culture and class, your own country.”  Mark Hagen on Ruffin’s signature song, “The Mississippi-born Ruffin delivers a staggering performance, lunging at the song and its tolling bell of a melody without ever losing control.  It’s this inherent fatalism, this stoicism, this idea that he’s a cursed man in a blasted world who can’t do a damn thing about it, that harks back to the blues and gives the song one half of its astonishing power.  The other half, of course, comes from the music, which plays out in a taut counterpoint to that vocal, moving on up from its stately beginning with a glorious, swirling logic that says it doesn’t have to be like this, things can be better, things WILL be better.”

192.  “Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond.  Songwriter: Neil Diamond; #4 pop; 1969.  For years Neil Diamond said that “Sweet Caroline” was a salute to Caroline Kennedy, who was a small child when John F. Kennedy, her father, was assassinated.  However, that story was just media manipulation.  Diamond in 2014, “I was writing a song in Memphis, Tennessee, for a session.  I needed a three-syllable name.  The song was about my wife at the time, her name was Marsha, and I couldn’t get a ‘Marsha’ rhyme.”  Rock NYC Grand Poobah Iman Lababedi, “’Sweet Caroline’ will live forever, an impeccable singalong, a song that respects everybody’s intelligence.  It is such a magnificent beast of a song that it overpowers a career literally filled to overflowing with hits.”  Diamond wasn’t immediately in love with the recording.  Session guitarist Reggie Young, “We all loved that song.  I don’t think Neil was really pleased with the arrangement.”  Keyboardist Bobby Wood, “Neil didn’t like it at all.  He didn’t want it to be a single.”  However, over time, good times never felt so good.

191.  “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” The Beatles.  Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney; Did Not Chart; 1968.  Mike Love, perhaps the most detested man in popular music, on Paul McCartney’s homage to Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.,” “Paul came down to the breakfast table one morning saying, ‘Hey, Mike, listen to this.’  And he starts strumming and singing, ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.,’ the verses.  And I said, ‘Well, Paul, what you ought to do is talk about the girls around Russia, Ukraine girls and then Georgia on my mind, and that kind of thing.’  Which he did.”  A cynic might point that if McCartney used lyrical themes suggested by Mike Love that a lawsuit would have quickly ensued, however, there is a nice hat tip to The Beach Boys in the bridge and the lyrical reference to “Georgia on My Mind” added to the amusement.  McCartney, “I just like the idea of Georgia girls and talking about places like the Ukraine as if there were California.  It was also hands across the water, which I’m still conscious of.”  McCartney played drums on the track, during a timeframe when Ringo Starr had temporarily left the band.

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