Welcome to Part 1 in a four-part series looking back at songs hitting significant milestones this year. First up: 50 tracks hitting the big 5-0 in 2016. Here are some of the biggest hits released in 1966, the sounds that take you right back to that big year.
1. "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," Nancy Sinatra
Released in February, "Boots" may be a little cheesy — but it's also a lot 1960s sassy, and that's OK with us. Don't ever stop truthin'. Sinatra was just 25 when this hit No. 1.
2. "The Ballad of the Green Berets," Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler
No. 1 for five weeks because patriotism, "Green Berets" was also co-written by Sadler, who had suffered an injury as a medic during the Vietnam War. The B-side of the song? "Letter From Vietnam," of course.
3. "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration," The Righteous Brothers
If you feel as though "Soul and Inspiration" sounds very similar to "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," it may be because both were written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Not that I'm complaining. This one was No. 1 for three weeks.
4. "Good Lovin'," the Young Rascals
The group that would later become just the Rascals ("Young Rascals" = not-so hip in 1968) toured as recently as late 2013. BTW: The Grateful Dead released a version of this song in 1978 and it failed to chart.
5. "Monday, Monday," the Mamas and the Papas
Released in March (when, unofficially, Mondays are the worst), "Monday, Monday" was the group's follow-up single to "California Dreamin'" — and was reportedly written in about a half an hour.
6. "When a Man Loves a Woman," Percy Sledge
The less said about the 1991 Michael Bolton cover the better. This is the true classic. Sledge said the song was inspired by a girlfriend who left him to pursue a modeling career — though he did not earn a writing credit for it.
7. "Paint It, Black," the Rolling Stones
It's not the door's fault.
8. "Paperback Writer," the Beatles
Other songs the Beatles released in 1966: "Eleanor Rigby" and "Yellow Submarine."
9. "Strangers in the Night," Frank Sinatra
Nancy's dad also makes our list, with a track that earned him a Grammy for record of the year, beating "Monday, Monday," among others.
10. "Hanky Panky," Tommy James and the Shondells
The Hanky Panky was a 1960s dance (and apparently a successfully seductive one). Co-writer Ellie Greenwich is also responsible for such stellar 1960s songs as "Leader of the Pack" and "Be My Baby."
11. "Wild Thing," the Troggs
One of the most distinctively American rock songs of the entire decade was song by a British band.
12. "Summer in the City," the Lovin' Spoonful
Appropriately released on July 4, "Summer in the City" was No. 1 for what's typically some of the three hottest weeks of any year: Aug. 13-27.
13. "Sunshine Superman," Donovan
If you were mystical/hippie-ish in 1966, you weren't as mystical/hippie-ish as Donovan.
14. "You Can't Hurry Love," the Supremes
I'm assuming this was everyone's other summer jam of 1966 (it was No. 1 for two weeks in September). And my "assuming," I mean "judging you if this wasn't."
15. "Cherish," the Association
How popular was the Association in the 1960s? They kicked off the legendary Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
16. "Reach Out I'll Be There," the Four Tops
Motown's golden trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland churned this one in the same year they wrote "You Can't Hurry Love." Holland-Dozier-Holland: Making all other songwriters look like bad.
17. "96 Tears," ? and the Mysterians
Still don't know what this song is about, still love that the leader singer calls himself "Question Mark."
18. "Last Train to Clarksville," the Monkees
Wow, it has been 50 years since the Monkees released its debut song. I don't know what exactly that means in the grand scheme of things, but it seems to demand some kind of reflection.
19. "Poor Side of Town," Johnny Rivers
Sonically, the opposite of "Last Train to Clarksville." But 1966 made room for it all.
20. "You Keep Me Hangin' On," the Supremes
You know what I'm going to say: MORE HOLLAND-DOZIER-HOLLAND. Now with Morse Code-esque sound effects!
21. "Winchester Cathedral," the New Vaudeville Band
What's that? They had psychedelic drugs in 1966? I'm assuming it helped people listen to this.
22. "Good Vibrations," the Beach Boys
This is more like it.
23. "I'm a Believer," the Monkees
Yup, this was a big year for the Monkees — "I'm a Believer" was an even bigger hit than "Last Train to Clarksville." Songwriter: Neil Diamond.
24. "Kind of a Drag," the Buckinghams
Released in 1966 but topping the Hot 100 chart for two weeks in February 1967, "Kind of a Drag" was the Chicago band's debut single.
25. "Crying Time," Ray Charles
"Crying Time" was originally written and recorded by country legend Buck Owens, so here's a video of Owens and Charles doing a duet of it. You can look up the video for the Charles-Barbra Streisand "Crying Time" duet on your own time.
26. "Try a Little Tenderness," Otis Redding
Essentially a remake (albeit one that sounds entirely different) of a 1930s song, Redding's take was arranged by Isaac Hayes. Smooth.
27. "Mellow Yellow," Donovan
The same rule as with No. 13 applies. Quite rightly.
28. "A Place in the Sun," Stevie Wonder
Another socially aware song Wonder released in 1966: a cover of "Blowin' in the Wind." "A Place in the Sun" co-writer Ron Miller also penned Wonder's "Yester-Me, "Yester-You, Yesterday."
29. "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron," the Royal Guardsmen
The Royal Guardsmen made a career out of Snoopy-based novelty songs, because sure. In 1967, "Snoopy's Christmas" was a big hit during the holiday season. Very, very, very oddly, "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" co-writer Dick Holler (unfortunately his real name) also wrote the somewhat more solemn "Abraham, Martin and John."
30. "I Got a Feelin' (Oh No, No)," Neil Diamond
The most honest song ever writing about breaking up with someone? Discuss.
31. "Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly, Miss Molly," Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
Did two classics ever fit so seamlessly together?
32. "Lady Godiva," Peter and Gordon
Huh. 1966 was really trying to force a British music hall revival, wasn't it?
33. "Mustang Sally," Wilson Pickett
Written and recorded in 1965 by Mack Rice, "Mustang Sally" gained bigger fame with Pickett's version — the follow up to his "Land of 1000 Dances," also released in 1966.
34. "Sloop John B," the Beach Boys
One of the standouts from the Beach Boys' landmark "Pet Sounds" album, "Sloop John B" is a rock take on a traditional folk song from the Bahamas.
35. "Secret Agent Man," Johnny Rivers
Johnny "Poor Side of Town" Rivers was pretty busy in 1966. He also produced the 5th Dimension's version of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In."
36. "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35," Bob Dylan
Soak in laughing Bob Dylan. Doesn't happen that often.
37. "Time Won't Let Me," the Outsiders
The debut pop gold single from the Cleveland rockers also responsible for "Bend Me, Shape Me."
38. "Born Free," Roger Williams
Williams was one of many people who recorded versions of theme to the 1966 film of the same name (about a couple raising a lion). Pianist Williams had one of the highest-charting versions. The track also won the Oscar for best original song, beating out "Alfie" and "Georgy Girl."
39. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," Jimmy Ruffin
Well, they probably spend most of their time listening to songs like this.
40. "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," the Temptations
Not to be confused with TLC's more numerically spelled "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg." This Motown classic garnered renewed popularity when it appeared on the soundtrack to 1983 Baby Boomers Rekindle Friendships film "The Big Chill."
41. "I Fought the Law," the Bobby Fuller Four
This rollicking track by Crickets band member Sonny Curtis (who also wrote the theme song to "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" — really), had been around since the late 1950s, when his band recorded it. But it was Bobby Fuller's version that reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1979, it was the first single released in America by the British punk band the Clash.
42. "Working in a Coal Mine," Lee Dorsey
I still think of "Zoolander" whenever I hear this one.
43. "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," Cher
Written by Cher's then-husband, Sonny Bono, "Bang Bang" has been covered by a huge number of artists, ranging from Nancy Sinatra (also in 1966, the version used in "Kill Bill Volume 1") and Stevie Wonder to Lady Gaga and Beyonce.
44. "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," Dusty Springfield
One of Springfield's biggest hits was originally an Italian song titled, "I, Who Can't Live (Without You)." Sweet title change!
45. "The Pied Piper," Crispian St. Peters
The very soap operatically named St. Peters hit the top five with this siren song for ladies to, uh, follow him, I guess.
46. "Li'l Red Riding Hood," Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
Sham the Sham and the Pharaohs — sexualizing fairy tales since 1966.
47. "Cool Jerk," the Capitols
People were so busy dancing 1966 away that they needed directions via songs, like this song that hit No. 2 on the R&B singles chart. Another popular dance song in 1966: "Barefootin'."
48. "Born a Woman," Sandy Posey
Not the most optimistic of feminist anthems.
49. "Oh How Happy," Shades of Blue
Four years later, Edwin Starr, who wrote "Oh How Happy" would write and record a slightly more militant peaceful message: 1970's "War."
50. "Love Makes the World Go Round," Deon Jackson
It certainly does. Thanks, 1966!