How Good Was The Year (in music) - 1961?

Join us as the HGWTY Tardis lands in its earliest year yet as we wind the clock all the way back to 1961.

A reminder of the premise of the thread

Rate the music of the year out of ten, based on the albums, singles, gigs, whatever that stand out for you that year. Non-musical nostalgia is welcome in the thread but that’s beside the point of the poll.

Everyone may nominate one album and one song from the year which will then be collated into side-polls on the final day of the thread (in one week) - please make it clear when you post a nomination for the poll, e.g

Rank Year Rating Top Album Top Song
1 1997 8.60 Radiohead - OK Computer The Beta Band - Dry The Rain
2 1967 8.48 Love - Forever Changes Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood - Some Velvet Morning
3 1992 8.29 Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted Pulp - Babies
3 2013 8.29 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Jubilee Street
5 2019 8.14 Self Esteem - Compliments Please Big Thief - Not
6 2004 8.10 Madvillain - Madvillainy / Arcade Fire - Funeral The Walkmen - The Rat
7 2014 7.69 FKA Twigs - LP1 FKA Twigs - Two Weeks
8 1970 7.61 Neil Young - After the Goldrush Curtis Mayfield - Move on Up
9 1976 7.47 David Bowie - Station to Station Bob Dylan - Hurricane
10 1986 7.42 Talk Talk - The Colour of Spring New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle
11 2005 7.39 Sufjan Stevens - Illinois Amerie - 1 Thing
12 1965 7.38 The Beatles - Rubber Soul Frank Wilson - Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)
13 2009 7.10 Fever Ray - Fever Ray Animal Collective - My Girls
14 1974 6.95 Neil Young - On The Beach Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson - The Bottle
15 1985 6.53 Tom Waits - Rain Dogs Prince and the Revolution - Raspberry Beret

In 1961 construction of the Berlin Wall began, the CIA failed to overthrow Cuba’s Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs invasion, Yuri Gargarin became the first human being to go into space, JFK was sworn in as president of the USA and both Amnesty International and the WWF (wildlife, not wrestling) were founded.

We said goodbye to Ernest Hemingway, Carl Jung, Erwin Schrodinger and George Formby, and hello to Barak Obama, Diana Spencer, Eddie Murphy, George Clooney and Michael J Fox.

How good was the music?

Past experience shows we don’t have as much engagement on the earlier years when few of us were alive and many of our favourite genres hadn’t emerged, so only going to run 4 days nominations and two days voting for this one meaning you have until Sunday 17th April to nominate one album and one song which will then go into a poll along with a number rating poll for year overall out of 10, which will close on Tuesday 19th.

Some lists for inspiration:

Best Albums of 1961 : Best Ever Albums
100 Greatest Albums of 1961 (don’t actually think this is very useful, not enough reviews aggregated that early)

100 Greatest Songs From 1961

Nominations will be tallied here as the week goes on:

Album Nominations

Track Nominations


Nominate Song: Del Shannon - Runaway

Love this song so much.


Looks like one for the jazz and rock n roll fans.

Thought Etta James at last was ‘61 but discogs tells me Nov 60.

Leaves me one album in my collection afaik but I’ll see if this thread jogs any memories. Hopefully the singles lists will be fun to look through.

NOMINATE SONG Dion - Runaround Sue


Looks like mostly jazz though so ahm oot.

1 Like

Definitely a jazz heavy year, but what jazz indeed. A few very big hitters but looks like plenty to explore.

Got this album on now, it’s delightful.

61 years on, this one still gets the hairs on the back of your neck.

The String-A-Longs - Wheels (Nominated track)

Or the video version…

I mean… what else is it going to be…

Album Nomination: John Coltrane - My Favourite Things


The title track is possibly my favourite music ever; the tune that sealed the deal when I thought I was only jazz-curious at the time.

surprisingly few good rap albums released this year, 1/10


whats the ruling on compilations? is robert johnson - king of the delta blues singers eligible? if so i nominate that, please and thank you


Not sure it counts as its a compliation of recordings from the final time Reinhardt and Grappelli recorded together, but as we’re not going to be doing a HGWTY thread for 1949, I’m having it.

Album nomination:
Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grappelli - Djangology

Love it. Makes me want to watch lots of Ren and Stimpy.


Compilations were a big thing around this time. I reckon we should count them but hey, I not in charge around here talk to the Badger-in-chief @Octobadger


As rap as it gets in 1961


If the compilations were out in 61 and you rate them above albums out that year then go for it.


Song nomination:

Ben E King - Stand by me


You have my vote if you nominate Cutler!


Let’s get the heavy hitters out the way early.

Song Nomination:Patsy Cline - Crazy


I’ll nominate song

Roy Orbison - Crying


I own exactly zero albums from 1961. Will be a nice little break for me, but I’ll check out the discussion and submissions for anything I might like.