First Hit #1: December 12, 1964
It could be argued that three artists made the biggest impact on 1964, and those three artists finish off the year. Bobby Vinton is the first, being the last pre-Beatles number one and in some ways the calm before the storm – at least in the sense that the song was relatively calm. Mr. Lonely is his next hit, a song that exists curiously out of time. The song itself is the lament of a soldier who dreams of home, a topic that comes up repeatedly as wars come and go. It would be just as relevant today as it was in 1964 with advent of Vietnam, and there are plenty of periods where such an alienation would be part of the national consciousness.
The other reason it seems out of time is the sound. The romantic piano and Vinton’s distinctive voice sound nostalgic, but it’s difficult to place it in any period. It is a relatively simple production, allowing the various elements plenty of room to breathe, which keeps it from sounding too much like any one decade, as most decades have production habits that their pop songs integrate. It sounds nostalgic, but that’s appropriate for the content, since it’s about a man dreaming of home. Dreams of home often come with nostalgia, and as such a slightly old sounding song is the perfect sound for it.