Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1967

It’s that time again, ladies and gentlemen. Today we’ll be looking at 1967. This year is a little less rock-heavy than the last few years have been, but we’ve got a pretty interesting mix of pop, psychedelia, soul, several of the Beatles’ better songs, and a song that seems to have a thread dedicated to it pop up in the first week of June every year for some reason. There were only 19 #1s this year down from the rapid-fire charts of the past few years, but there’s still plenty of classics to choose from (if not on the level of “House of the Rising Sun” or “Sound of Silence”, IMO.)

You know the drill. Which one do you like the most?

Previous polls: 1955-56 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 2012 2013

Another year where I could vote for more than half of the candidates. I’m picking the ode.

Actually this does not seem to be quite as impressive a crop as '66. I think The Beatles ought to have this one sewn up, although The Doors, The Supremes, and Aretha deserve honorable mentions.

By '67, I think, we are entering the era when a lot of the best stuff happened on albums rather than in the singles charts.

Tempted to go with Aretha (and also briefly considered the Doors, until I remembered that the single in question is that horrendous radio edit), but went with Ruby Tuesday. I fell in love with this song when I was in second grade – thanks, Jonathan, wherever you are! – and the flame of our little romance still burns.

Jim Morrison is one of the most over-rated singers, songwriters and poets of the century, and his bloated, drunken ramblings are an embarrassment to all of music.

But that was the future - right now it is 1967, and everything must bow before “Light My Fire,” even the radio edit. Thank you, Robby.

I will admit that The Doors was the first album I bought with my own money and I still have that original, first pressing copy. It’s been played until you can see through it!

It probably does bear mentioning that the version of Light My Fire that made it to #1 was a 2:52 edit that trimmed the guitar and keyboard solos down to almost nothing, as opposed to the 7:05 version on the album and which most classic rock stations play these days. The world was not ready for a 7-minute long single in 1967 - and I’m not sure the 7" singles of the day were capable of holding one on one side either. (For the record, the longest song to ever reach #1 in the US was Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, which was a 7:52 edit down from the 12:00 album cut.)

I voted for “Penny Lane,” and I think it’s a wonderful song. But I’m also cheating a bit, in that I can’t divorce this song from its B-side, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which I think is one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of rock.

I know Billboard was still charting A- and B-sides separately in those days (“SFF” made it to #8), but I believe the single’s reputation rests on both sides and would be regarded differently had a throwaway song (e.g. “What Goes On”) been made its B-side.

There are several other worthy candidates here (certainly “Light My Fire,” “Respect,” and “Ode to Billie Joe”), but overall this reinforces my view expressed in the previous thread that 1966 was truly THE year for pop/rock, not 1967.

And for the record, beyond “Penny Lane”/“SFF,” the Beatles’ two remaining #1’s are weak. “All You Need Is Love” is well-intentioned, but there’s really not a lot to it musically, and “Hello Goodbye” is among a very small number of Beatles songs I can say that I genuinely loathe.

You’ve more or less reinforced the view I’ve always expressed.

I have absolutely no use for the whole “Morrison as shaman” bullshit, and all the mythos that has built up around him.

Screw all of that…what I’ve always said is that I love The Doors because they were one hell of a band. No one that came before sounded anything like them, and all that followed who were influenced by them are pale imitators.

To be fair, Morrison was a part of that band, and his vocals (and songwriting, even as Krieger wrote many of their most-revered songs) were integral The Doors. I suspect you’re like me in that you have no interest in their live performances, which were (once you got past mid-1967) filled with Morrison’s tedious shenanigans.

But in the studio, they were masterful. People who dismiss The Doors out of hand because they don’t like Morrison are missing the point.

Actually, they were. The longest 45 side from the 60s I’m aware of was the B-side of Cannonball Adderly’s early 1967 single “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” — an instrumental that was 7:59. I remember holding it in my hand in a store (I had a fascination back in that day with long songs), and I’ve since confirmed its existence online…I have a .jpg of it at home.

As for “Light My Fire,” there are those who are fans of the single edit (which by the way, was also speeded up a tic from the album version) and who dismiss the full version as too much instrumental wanking.

I might normally fall into their camp as far as that overall view, but not in this case. The way I see it, if you’re gonna do a song that culminates in a, er, climax…then you ought to give full expression to the foreplay leading up to it! And I think the foreplay is very well done in this case.

Just wait till the next year’s poll.

This year and 1966 would make great playlists! I love every song on this list, including Nancy & Frank’s. But I went with Ruby Tuesday.

There are a lot of great songs on that list. I really wanted to vote for one of the two Monkees hits, but finally went with “Ode to Billie Joe,” a brilliantly original and evocative and haunting country song.

Plenty of good songs this year, but then really only one song here can be my choice. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” gets *my *respect. Tell you what it means to me. I’m so glad it made #1.

I thought Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever were intended to be released as a double A single. Wikipedia agrees with my memory.

That’s how it was in Canada, well, in Toronto (on CHUM).

One argument for “Billie Joe”: It’s the one song on the list that can still get people arguing today!

Yes, they were. But they still charted separately on the Billboard Hot 100, which is why “Strawberry Fields Forever” doesn’t appear here as a #1. (As I said, it reached #8).

IIRC, Billboard started listing two-sided hit singles as one charting entity around 1969 or 1970.

I don’t know if the chart convention in the UK and elsewhere was different.

They must not have been consistent about it. As you note, they were combining double-sided listings at least as early as 1970 (I found “I’ve Lost You”/“The Next Step Is Love” by Elvis, both sides #32), but “Junior’s Farm”/“Sally G” by Wings charted separately in 1974 (#3 and #17 respectively).

I like Incense with my Peppermints.

I voted for “Respect.” If “Strawberry Fields Forever” had counted, I might have been tempted to go with “Penny Lane.” “Windy” is the only one on this list that I really hate.