fbook icon 60‘The Rarest Thing’ Playlist

Beatles LP

My battered copy of The Beatles' 1966 'Revolver' album

The music that fills our childhoods stays with us our entire lives, the lyrics and melodies of that era embedded in our brains. The songs from the mid-Sixties have played that role for me, and they will always be my favourites for the nostalgia they evoke.

When I was writing ‘The Rarest Thing’, a story set fifty years ago, right at the height of the ‘Swinging Sixties’, there was always a CD playing in the background – the Beatles, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, the short-lived but brilliant Mamas and Papas, the Beach Boys and many more.

Some of my favourite songs and their performers are referenced in the book, but no lyrics are included because getting permission is a copyright nightmare. Sometimes though, just the title is enough to create the mood.

If there’s one song that sums up the spirit of the Sixties, I think it’s Paul Simon’s ‘Feeling Groovy’ (‘The 59th Street Bridge Song’). I didn’t allude to it in the book only because I thought it might be pushing the Sixties references too far to include a song whose title contains one of the ‘in’ words of the era. Does anyone say ‘groovy’ nowadays, or ‘outta sight’, for that matter?

If you’ve read my article called ‘The Beatles and Me’ (http://www.deborahobrien.com.au/index.php/blog/12-blog/151-blog-the-beatles-and-me), you will know that I adored the Beatles, and particularly Paul McCartney. In 1966 I also had a fleeting but intense crush on Scott Walker, to the extent that I glued his picture inside the lid of my little suitcase (yes, that’s what we did in those days) over the top of Paul McCartney (sorry, Sir Paul). Tony Worsley was another big crush. Likewise, all four Monkees who made my little heart zing whenever I watched their TV show – they were the first made-for-TV boy band.

Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’’ topped the charts for weeks in 1966 and inspired a fad for white boots like the ones she wore with her mini-skirt in the TV clip. I begged my mum to buy me a pair but she said I was too young. ‘When you’re thirteen, I’ll get you the boots,’ my mother promised. But by then white boots were ‘out’ and they never came back into fashion. Ever since, I must have hankered for white boots on some deeply subconscious level because they found their way into my manuscript and kept turning up as the book progressed. One of my editors wanted me to remove the white boot references - she couldn’t see the point. I responded by saying, ‘Those boots are wish-fulfilment, they need to stay.’ Besides, for me they epitomise 1966!

Here is the soundtrack to ’The Rarest Thing’, together with some other personal favourites circa 1966, in no particular order.


‘Good Vibrations’                                                  The Beach Boys

‘Good Day Sunshine’                                            The Beatles

'Wishin’ and Hopin’                                             Dusty Springfield

‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ’                Nancy Sinatra

‘The Look of Love’                                                Burt Bacharach

‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’                                Cilla Black

‘The More I See You’                                           Chris Montez

‘Homeward Bound’                                              Simon and Garfunkel

‘As Tears Go By’                                                    The Rolling Stones

‘Eleanor Rigby’                                                     The Beatles

‘Monday, Monday’                                               The Mamas and Papas

‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’            The Walker Brothers

‘59th Street Bridge Song: Feeling Groovy’       Simon and Garfunkel

‘I Hear a Symphony’                                            The Supremes

‘Friday on My Mind’                                            The Easybeats*

‘Raining in My Heart’                                          Tony Worsley*

‘I’m a Believer’                                                      The Monkees

‘Twilight Time’                                                      Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs*

‘Bus Stop’                                                               The Hollies

‘Spicks and Specks’                                              The Bee Gees*

‘The Carnival Is Over’                                          The Seekers*

‘Trains and Boats and Planes’                            Dionne Warwick

‘What Now, My Love?                                          Sonny and Cher

‘Sunday Afternoon’                                               The Kinks

‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me’               Dusty Springfield

‘We Can Work It Out’                                           The Beatles

*Australian or British/Australian performers


What do you think? Was 1966 popular music’s best year ever? If you were there, what was your favourite song and who was your favourite singer or band?

Deborah O’Brien
10th November 2016