Nothing evokes memories quite like summer songs. You instantly remember a vacation or lounging by the pool, a really bad summer job or when you met your significant other. You remember parties and parades -- or doing nothing in particular (it's summer after all). They're the songs that stay with you. So as we approach the first day of summer (June 21!), we decided to look back at the top songs of summer over the past 56 years, according to its summer popularity on Billboard's Hot 100 charts. Each day leading up to the start of summer, we'll look at different decade. Here are the top songs of summer from 1959-1969.
1959: "The Battle of New Orleans," Johnny Horton
Weeks at No. 1: June 6-July 11
Written by: Jimmy Driftwood, who also wrote "Tennessee Stud."
Interesting fact: Based on a traditional fiddle song, "The Battle of New Orleans" won the Grammy for song of the year. Billboard also ranked it as the top overall song of 1959.
Happening in the summer of 1959: Disneyland's Monorail System starts operating; the 49-state flag of the United States is unveiled in Philadelphia — a month before Hawaii is admitted as the 50th state; the original Mini car is launched.
1960: "It's Now or Never," Elvis Presley
Weeks at No. 1: Aug. 20-Sept. 17
Written by: Eduardo di Capua, Wally Gold, Aaron Schroeder
Interesting fact: Based on traditional Italian song "O Sole mio" (and "There's No Tomorrow," another song based on "O Sole mio" — still with me?), this eventually became Presley's second-best-selling single of his career (after "Hound Dog").
Happening in the summer of 1960: Domino's Pizza is founded; Harper Lee publishes "To Kill a Mockingbird"; John F. Kennedy is named the Democratic nominee for president of the United States; the Summer Olympics begin in Rome (Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, wins a gold medal in light-heavyweight boxing).
1961: "Tossin' And Turnin'," Bobby Lewis
Weeks at No. 1: July 15-Aug. 26
Written by: Ritchie Adams (a member of the doo-wop group the Fireflies) and Malou Rene
Interesting fact: Featured on the soundtrack to the 1978 film "Animal House," "Tossin' and Turnin'" has been covered by an eclectic bunch, including The Supremes, Peter Criss (yes, of Kiss) and Joan Jett.
Happening in the summer of 1961: Construction of the Berlin Wall begins; Ernest Hemingway commits suicide; Gus Grissom becomes the second American to go into space; Barack Obama is born in Honolulu.
1962: "Roses Are Red (My Love)," Bobby Vinton
Weeks at No. 1: July 14-Aug. 4
Written by: Paul Evans (whose biggest hit as a performer was 1959's unfortunately named "Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Backseat") and Al Byron
Interesting fact: This one, about the most romantic (or cheesy, depending on how you look at it) yearbook message ever written, spawned an "answer song," Florraine Darlin's "Long As the Rose Is Red."
Happening in the summer of 1962: The Yankees beat the Tigers, 9-7, in a seven-hour long baseball game that look 22 innings; the first Wal-Mart store opens; Julia Child's "The French Chef" first airs on TV; Marilyn Monroe dies at her Los Angeles home at the age of 36.
1963: "Fingertips Part 2," Stevie Wonder
Weeks at No. 1: Aug. 10-24
Written by: Clarence Paul and Henry Cosby, Wonder's mentors at Motown
Interesting fact: Wonder's first single actually wasn't the most popular song of 1963 - or, to be fair, even the summer. It's three-week reign at No. 1 in August, was matched by three weeks at the top during the summer by the songs "Sukiyaki" (June 15-29) and "My Boyfriend's Back" (Aug. 31-Sept. 14). We give "Fingertips" the edge because it ranks higher than those two songs on Billboard's Year-End Hot 100 singles chart for the year.
Happening in the summer of 1963: Paul McCartney and John Lennon write "She Loves You"; President John Kennedy delivers his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech; ZIP codes are introduced nationwide; James Meredith becomes to the first African-American to graduate from the University of Mississippi; Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
1964: "The House of the Rising Sun," The Animals
Weeks at No. 1: Sept. 5-19
Written by: Traditional folk song
Interesting fact: The Beatles ruled 1964, but their longest-charting hits at No. 1 -- "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You" and "Can't Buy Me Love" -- covered February through early May.
Happening in the summer of 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the United States sends 5,000 more military advisers to South Vietnam (American forces now number 21,000); Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft marry in New York City; Shea Stadium hosts its first football game.
1965: "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," the Rolling Stones
Weeks at No. 1: July 10-31
Written by: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Interesting fact: Can you imagine this classic being your first No. 1 hit? "Satisfaction" accomplished that feat in the United States for the Rolling Stones. In 2004, the magazine Rolling Stone placed it as No. 2 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (No. 1: Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone"). Your two words to take away from this sentence: "rolling" and "stone."
Happening in the summer of 1965: The band the Doors forms in Los Angeles; the first images from Mars are successfully transmitted to the U.S.; Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival; President Lyndon Johnson signs the Social Security Amendments of 1965; "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling is born.
1966: "Summer in the City," The Lovin' Spoonful
Weeks at No. 1: Aug. 13-27
Written by: John Sebastian (the group's founder); Mark Sebastian (John's brother, not in the band); Steve Boone (the group's bassist)
Interesting fact: The car horn you hear? That's from a Volkswagen Beetle. The most expensive 1966 Beetle on eBay right now has an asking price of $18,999 -- or best offer.
Happening in the summer of 1966: The National Organization for Women is founded; Johnson signs the Freedom of Information Act; actor Montgomery Clift and comedian Lenny Bruce die; groundbreaking takes place for the World Trade Center in New York City.
1967: "Windy," The Association
Weeks at No. 1:July 1-22
Written by: Ruthann Friedman, who first performed on a televised talent show when she was 12.
Interesting fact: Friedman was just 23 when this song was released and it became The Association's second No. 1 hit, after "Cherish."
Happening in the summer of 1967: The U.S. Supreme Court declares that all laws prohibiting interracial marriage are unconstitutional; the final episode of the "The Fugitive" airs on ABC; Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
1968: "People Got to Be Free," The Rascals
Weeks at No. 1: Aug. 27-Sept. 14
Written by: Group members Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati
Interesting fact: In a 1970 Rolling Stone article, the band said the song was inspired by them being harassed by strangers for their hippie-esque appearances when their tour van once broke down.
Happening in the summer of 1968: Soap opera "One Life to Live" premieres; the so-called Catonsville Nine enter the Selective Services offices in the Baltimore suburb and burn draft records with napalm; Pope Paul VI publishes a condemnation of birth control; Richard Nixon is nominated for president at the Republican National Convention.
1969: "In the Year 2525," Zager & Evans
Written by: Rick Evans
Weeks at No. 1: July 12-Aug. 16
Interesting fact: Man, people in the late 1960s had a bleak vision of the future (translation of this song: We're all screwed). The band never had another hit -- or even had another song on the chart at all. The duo disbanded in 1971.
Happening in the summer of 1969: The Stonewall riots in New York City launch the modern gay rights movement in America; the first U.S. troop withdrawals are made from Vietnam; Apollo 11 lands on the moon and Neil Armstrong takes his first steps; the Beatles are photographed crossing Abbey Road; followers of Charles Manson murder actress Sharon Tate and four others at her home, and murder two others the following day.Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun