The 1960s were a decade of political, social, and economic change. The civil rights movement, anti-war demonstrators, and the hippies pushed the world to new frontiers – especially love.
Some of the best love songs ever written were released in the 60s with artists from Motown, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Supremes, and others leading the way in this prosperous era.
Of the hundreds of songs written about affairs of the heart in this decade, we chose to put the spotlight on some of these 60s love songs.
Let’s get ready to fall in love again.
“When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge
Is there no greater love song than “When a Man Loves a Woman” from soul icon Percy Sledge? You can practically hear the man pour his heart out in this song. Debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966, Sledge’s classic not only ends up on this list but should be on every love song list for eternity.
“At Last” by Etta James
Released in 1960, Etta James’ “At Last” is a wedding reception standard. James’ affection in this song tells a story greater than any lyric ever written about love. This soothing tune got James elected into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Now that is power as an artist.
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley
We cannot get too deep into this list without featuring the King of Rock N’ Roll. Elvis Presley’s 1961 hit was a cut from his soundtrack for Blue Hawaii. The hit received new life in 1993 when pop-reggae group UB40 covered the song.
“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers
This gorgeous 1965 classic is considered the blueprint for love songs. Written in 1955, “Unchained Melody” soon exploded in popularity. However, the song was put on the map by the Righteous Brothers and became a jukebox standard. Almost 25 years later, the song re-entered the zeitgeist following the release of 1990’s Ghost.
“Something” by The Beatles
The Beatles' popularity in the 60s is practically unmatched. While sugary sweet songs from the Fab Four delighted audiences in the early part of the decade, 1969’s “Something” reaches deep thanks to lyrics by George Harrison.
“I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops
Sugar pie, honey bunch indeed. Love has a way of lifting us to places we have never been before, and this 1965 R&B classic proves it. “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops is an unforgettable love tune featuring an upbeat melody and wondrous harmonies.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were the very definition of Crooners. The 1967 hit from the group is another powerful love ballad about how love can strike at any moment. This song was far from “too good to be true.”
“Crazy” by Patsy Cline
You did not think we would write this list without at least one country song, right? Released in 1961, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline struck a nerve with everyone that felt like love drove them to psychiatric problems. Still, this classic proves that country music produced some of the most heartfelt love songs.
“Stop! In the Name of Love” by The Supremes
It appears 1965 was a banner year for love songs, and this hit from The Supremes proves it. Featuring the powerful voice of Diana Ross, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for two weeks.
“This Magic Moment” by The Drifters
“This Magic Moment” by The Drifters was one of the first hit love songs of the decade. Released in January 1960, “Moment” stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks following its release.
“My Girl” by The Temptations
A song so successful that its title inspired the name of a hit coming-of-age film almost 30 years later, “My Girl” by the Temptations is a soul and R&B classic. It became The Temptations' first No. 1 single and arguably their most well-known song.
“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin solidified her spot on the throne as the Queen of Soul with this 1968 hit written by Carole King. If you do not feel this song in your soul, then we do not know what is wrong with you.
“I’m a Believer” by The Monkees
The Monkees might have been one of a handful of “made-for-TV” bands, but “I’m a Believer” helped the band achieve success outside the four walls of the small screen. Did you know this hit was written by Neil Diamond?
“Hello I Love You” by The Doors
Forget the psychedelia for a moment – this is a love song. The Doors may have created some of the hippest songs of the 1960s. However, this song is about a man so obsessed with a woman that he is willing to do anything.
“Stand by Your Man” by Tammy Wynette
Tammy Wynette could take a lot from the men in her life if 1968’s “Stand by Your Man” is any indicator. Love sometimes means forgiving the mistakes of others, and “Stand” shows that forgiveness can be a bitter pill to swallow.
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by Elvis Presley
Are we featuring Elvis again? Sorry, not sorry. “Are You Lonesome Tonight” might have been written in 1927, but rocketed to success with Elvis’ version of the song in 1960. You cannot tell us you do not feel anything after hearing this song.
“Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations
This British band hit the charts with this ditty in 1968 that tells the story of love and the desire to never leave anyone wanting. We cannot forget that this song achieved fame once again 30 years later when it was featured on the soundtrack for “There's Something About Mary.”
“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson
This one might be popular for Ghostbusters II fans – it is featured in the soundtrack, after all – but this 1967 hit was No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B chart.
“I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher
One of the most famous duets in music history, Sonny Bono and Cher’s ode to each other in 1965 was a bonafide hit and also delivered the final punctuation mark to several episodes of their variety show on CBS. Sonny and Cher's marriage might have ended a few years after this song's release, but its sweet message still melts hearts almost 60 years later.
“Baby I Need Your Loving” by The Four Tops
The Four Tops are here again, proving that they had one heck of a career when it came to singing love songs in the 1960s. Released in 1964, this soulful ballad is the story of a man who just cannot give up on his woman.
“You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'” by the Righteous Brothers
Here are those Righteous Brothers once again. The song discusses what happens in a relationship when those butterflies in the pit of your stomach seem to fly away – for good. Over 20 years later, the song received new life thanks to its appearance on the Top Gun soundtrack.
“Wouldn't It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys
Ah, young love. The Beach Boys delivered a hit song with the release of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” which relays the tale of a young couple who wishes they were older so they could get married and have the life of their dreams.
“The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra
This list 100 percent needed a song by Old Blue Eyes, and boy, did he sing a great one here. There is nothing like a moment where you take a look at your lover during a date and realizing how they look makes you feel special. Sinatra could make a love song out of anything.
“Ain't No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Another absolute gem of a love song here, featuring Marvin Gaye before his solo career exploded further in the 1970s. According to Gaye and Tammi Terrell, there is no geologic feature bigger than love. Hard to disagree here!
“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
There might not be another slow dance song better than this standard by Ben E. King. King’s song talks about the kind of love that never leaves you – even when the going gets tough. Now that is true love.
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles
Another song by The Beatles? It is hard to argue with their success with fun little love songs like this one. It may be about puppy love, but this Fab Four classic can still put a swing in your step. Considering this song’s success at launching the band into the stratosphere following their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” has staying power.
“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
Van Morrison’s hit gave an anthem to every girl with brown eyes. But to Morrison, it is not just about eye color to him – it is about the way that “Brown Eyed Girl” made him feel.
“All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles
Look, you could probably write another article entirely about love songs written by The Beatles, but the British Invasion’s biggest success story knew how to write and perform a love song.
“I Second that Emotion” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
Who knew that a play on words could become such a hit? Smokey Robinson took the idea of “seconding a motion” and turned it into a powerful song about love and a “lifetime of devotion.”
“Where Did Our Love Go” by The Supremes
The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go” might be about the end of a relationship, but this toe-tapping tune can still be found in the hearts of 1960s love song fans.
“Ain't Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations
When you are in love, you are willing to do anything for the other person to feel the same way you do. The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” proves this notion for anyone who has felt like they need to fall on their knees and beg for love in return.
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye
Before you stop and remind us that this song had a resurgence in the 1980s thanks to The California Raisins, know that Marvin Gaye scored an absolute hit with this song in 1967. The song has been covered numerous times since then, proving the power of this ballad.
“Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin
In 1969, no one could sing like Janis Joplin. With her hard rock and soul mix, Joplin’s unique voice scored a monster hit with “Piece of My Heart.” The song finds Joplin digging deep to tell us how much love hurts when someone plays games with the heart. Joplin's career, unfortunately, never went much further than this song due to a drug overdose.
“Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters
Beach music might have been in a class of its own due to artists like The Drifters and The Beach Boys, but the music was still mostly about love. “Under the Boardwalk” is another genre miracle that talks about those magic moments when the lights dim down on the shore.
“Happy Together” by The Turtles
Can you really see us loving any more love songs outside of this one? With a catchy tune, memorable lyrics, and a wonderful message, “Happy Together” is another 60s love song classic.
Top Love Songs Of The 60s, Conclusion
The 1960s were a magical era in American and world history when it comes to music. While politics and social upheaval were leading the headlines on the evening news, the era's tunes reminded us that love was the binding agent of the decade.
Which were your favorite 60s love songs?