[feature] New Year’s Count-Up: 1963 in seven songs

Holy moly, popular music is starting to get very, very good.

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- Nov 13, 2012

As the new year draws closer, we’ve decided to take a look the music that’s gotten us to where we are today. So in an effort to broaden our musical horizons and our understanding of contemporary artists, we’re counting down 2012 by counting up from 1952, taking a look at a handful of songs from a different year every day until January 1st. You can find the full list here. Today we’re heading back to 1963!


The Beatles - "She Loves You"

During the previous year The Beatles released their debut single, "Love Me Do." One year later, they were performing to audiences apparently comprised entirely of hysterical young women screaming like a hormonal human orchestra. "She Loves You" was the best selling single of 1963, the band's first single to sell a million copies, and is their all-time best selling Beatles single in the UK, which should say a lot.

Vernons Girls - "We Love the Beatles"

Vernons Girls - We Love The Beatles - 1963 45rpm

In case you didn't believe me that The Beatles were already stars, here's a surprisingly delightful novelty recording that pledges love for the band in great detail.

The Crystals - "Da Doo Ron Ron"

The Crystals - Da Doo Ron Ron (1963)

You know when crotchety old bags complain that today's pop music is terrible? I mean it is, obviously. But compared to this doo-wop hit, that new Ke$ha single is the holocaust, basically. Plus, it's even better when you see their adorably synchronized dance moves.

Beach Boys - "Surfer Girl"

Beach Boys - Surfer Girl

The Beach Boys released three albums this year, with Brian Wilson taking a more active writing role and eclipsing Mike Love's songwriting input by the second, Surfer Girl. This is the Wilson-penned title track, a timeless and essentially perfectly composed love ballad. Also check out "Stoked" from the first 1963 release Surfin' USA - pure surf instrumental, save for the occasional exclamation "STOKED!"

Bob Dylan - "Girl From the North Country"

Girl From the North Country

The previous year saw the release of Bobby's largely ignored debut. In 1963 he releases his breakthrough The Freeewheelin' Bob Dylan, probably best known for "Blowin' In The Wind'" though I thought I'd instead showcase this minimalist, fingerpicking masterpiece, which so artfully captures the feeling of longing, missing, and losing. It's my favourite man-and-guitar recordings of all time, but it just doesn't have same impact in this crummy YouTube quality.

"Little" Stevie Wonder - "Fingertips (Pt II)"

Girl From the North Country

Here's a cut from Stevie Wonder's first album, The 12 Year Old Genius, where he's billed as "Little Stevie Wonder." As the title implies, he's twelve fucking years old, but his star power - captured in this 1962 live performance - is impossible to ignore. Along with singing, he's playing harmonica and bongos, and Jesus Christ did I mention he's twelve years old?

The Ronettes - "Be My Baby"

The Ronettes - Be My Baby - 1963 (stereo)

May as well close off this already incredible year for popular music with a song often considered to be the best record in pop music history. The iconic opening drum beat has been aped many times by everyone from Depeche Mode to Jay Reatard to The Beatles to Girls to Jesus and Mary Chain. It's also a quintessential document of the iconic  iconic artist-producer-murderer Phil Spector's trademark wall of sound.

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