" Just a bunch of guys having a party, letting it all go. We were tame. You couldn't even understand what was being said." -- Dick Peterson, original member of The Kingsmen

"Time" Man of the Year: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Oscar for Best Picture: "Tom Jones"

Oscar for Best Actor: Sidney Poitier for "Lilies of the Field"

Oscar for Best Song: "Call Me Irresponsible" Emmy for Best Actor in a Continuing Series: Dick Van Dyke for "The Dick Van Dyke Show" Emmy for Best Actress in a Continuing Series: Mary Tyler Moore for "The Dick Van Dyke Show"
Grammy for Record of the Year: "The Days of Wine and Roses" by Henry Mancini Oscar for Best Actress: Patricia Neal for "Hud" Best Seller -- Fiction: "The Shoes of the Fisherman" by Morris West
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"Surfin' USA" by The Beach Boys
No other song expresses the carefree exuberance of being a teenager in the summer of 1963 better than "Surfin' U.S.A." While there wasn't any surfing being done in mid-America, the freedom expressed as "we'll all be gone for the summer" was universal as we headed to the beach (lake, pool or river) for sun, fun and romance. The song rose to #3 on May 25th and although it never reached the top spot, it was in the top ten for six weeks and was tabbed as the second best of the year by Billboard. It was kept from the top spot by "If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul, "It's My Party" by Lesley Gore, and "Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto. A poll today would probably find it ranked ahead of all of those. An obvious knock-off of Chuck Berry (he would eventually be listed as the writer of the song) it had the energy of early rock and roll and the polished sound of The Beach Boys who would continue to provide us with an "Endless Summer."
"You Can't Sit Down" by The Dovells
You can't have a better dance song than one that literally makes it so that "You Can't Sit Down." Recorded by The Dovells on the Cameo/Parkway label in Philadelphia that was churning out Chubby Checker dance records (The Dovells were the backup vocals on Checker's "Let's Twist Again" in 1962), "You Can't Sit Down" was released in April and peaked at #3 in June. It was the fifth (and last) top 40 hit for the group. The record was actually a cover of a Phil Upchurch instrumental recorded in 1960. The song has plenty of energy and great (?) lyrics: "You gotta slop, bop, flip flop, hip hop, never stop." Group member Len Berry would go on to have a solo career with "1-2-3" making it to #2 in 1965.
"Since I Fell For You" by Lenny Welch
"Since I Fell For You" entered the top twenty on November 23rd and climbed to #4 on the Billboard chart at the end of 1963 -- it spent a total of ten weeks in the top twenty. The song was originally recorded by Annie Laurie in 1947 and was #20. In 1963, Welch was recording for Cadence records and "Since I Fell For You" was his first and only top twenty record. The ballad is a of unrequited love. The first line is a reasonable response: "When you just give love; and never get love; You'd better let love depart." But reason is quickly kicked aside as the heartache sets in: "Love brings such misery and pain; I guess I'll never be the same; Since I fell for you." Bobby Vinton's "Blue Velvet" and Skeeter Davis's "The End of theWorld" were contenders, and were higher ranked, but "Since I Fell For You" is the best romance song of 1963.
"Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen
As mentioned in "The Music (Chart Success)" section, "Louie Louie" didn't get the recognition it deserved in the year end charts because it peaked at #2 on December 14th 1963 and continued at that spot until January 26th, 1964. But a survey of the top records of 1963 finds no other record that is so instantly recognized when it comes on the radio, and so easily identified as rock and roll. Of course, contributing to its longevity has been the long standing claim that it contains obscene lyrics. There is no real evidence of this, and in fact the song began as a ballad about a sailor talking to a bartender named Louie about his longing for the girl he loved. The true lyrics are anything but obscene: "A fine little girl, she wait for me; me catch a ship across the sea." You no more than hear the opening keyboard, pling, dink-dink-dink, dink-dink, dink-dink-dink and you know the song. "Louie Louie" has purportedly been recorded in more versions than any other song.
"Blue Bayou" by Roy Orbison
"Blue Bayou" was originally recorded in 1961, but wasn't released as a single until it was included in Roy Orbison's 1963 album, "In Dreams." It was the B-side to Orbison's top ten song, "Mean Woman Blues" (#5) but got enough play time on its own to get to #29. In 1963 if you asked a fan to name their favorite Orbison songs, "Blue Bayou" might not have even been mentioned. But it has grown in popularity over the years, partly because it was recorded by Linda Ronstadt in 1977 and reached #3. It was also part of the 1988 Cinemax special "Roy Orbison: A Black & White Night Live." The song expresses a longing for a love left behind, a pining to return home to "happier times on Blue Bayou." The song is a perfect match for Roy Orbison's voice which led him to be referred to as the "Caruso of Rock and Roll."
"Come and Get These Memories" by Martha & The Vandellas
"Come And Get These Memories" by Martha & The Vandellas" (#29) was the first Holland-Dozier-Holland production. It is a precursor of the sound that would make The Supremes one of the "supreme" recording artists of the 1960's. The litany of memorabilia ("old friendship ring," "old valentine cards," "old teddy bear") is a lasting image of teenage love affairs and the repetition and call/response of the Vandellas, "come and get 'em" are classic parts of the H-D-H sound. Released in the spring of '63, "Memories" never made the top 20, but the group would score a #2 hit later in the year with "Heat Wave" and in 1964 in the midst of the "British invasion" would take "Dancing in the Street" to #2. Had "Memories" been a later release by the group, it surely would have ranked higher and had it been a later recording by The Supremes, it quite possibly could have been a #1 song.
"Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash
"Ring of Fire" was the number one country song for seven weeks -- it made it to #17 on the pop chart. June Carter Cash is given credit for writing the song and it was originally recorded by her sister, Anita Carter. When Carter's version didn't make much noise, Johnny Cash decided to record it in a little different fashion, specifically with prominent mariachi style horns. Rolling Stone recognized "Ring of Fire" as the #87 song on its "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." The Carter family sing background on the record. As noted in "The Music (Chart Success)" section country music had many successful crossovers in 1963. But "Ring of Fire" is clearly one that has stood the test of time -- one cannot think of Johnny Cash without thinking of "Ring of Fire."