If it seems like 2019 is a lot to live through, look back at the summer of 1969. The Stonewall Riots, the first letters from the Zodiac killer, the first troop withdrawals from Vietnam and the Nixon doctrine, the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Chappaquiddick incident, the death of Brian Jones and the murder of Sharon Tate, and of course, the original Woodstock Festival -- not only did it all happen that summer, it all occurred in the span of about a month and a half. The '60s often feel over-mythologized as a decade, but then you think about all of that happening in one 50-day period and wonder why we don't talk about '69 even more.
The music was no different. Nearly every rock band we associate with the decade today released a classic album at the end of it -- Creedence Clearwater Revival alone dropped three of 'em -- while bands who would go on to define the '70s in both the mainstream (Led Zeppelin, Chicago, Three Dog Night) and the underground (The Stooges, MC5) poked their heads out for the first time. Outside of rock, artists like Isaac Hayes, Nina Simone and Miles Davis were continuing to push the envelope in fusing soul, funk and jazz, on and off the charts. The Archies and Steam had their first and only No. 1 hits, despite neither band really even existing in any conventional sense, while Hot 100 legends like Elvis Presley and The Supremes both topped the chart for the final time. It was the capper the '60s deserved, certainly.
To commemorate this most eventful year in music and culture on the week of Woodstock's 50th anniversary, the Billboard staff is ranking our 100 favorite songs from a year treasured by Bryan Adams and New York Mets fans alike. As we usually do with our staff year-in-review lists, we're counting songs if they were released in '69, debuted on the Hot 100 or hit No. 1 that year -- but not if they debuted or topped the chart after the year was over. So some '69-released classics that became hits later on, like "I Want You Back," "Space Oddity" or "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," are ineligible.