Top 10 Everly Brothers Songs of All Time

Everly Brothers
Photo by Keystone / Hulton Archive

Phil and Don Everly, known to the public as simply The Everly Brothers, were pioneers in rock and roll, R&B, and country music. Their legacy includes not only their extensive discography but also the profound influence they've had on contemporary and future artists.

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10. "Let It Be Me" (1960)

Everly Brothers Let It Be Me
Courtesy Cadence

Originally recorded in French, the song "Let It Be Me" was the first single the Everly Brothers worked on in New York instead of Nashville. French singer and songwriter Gilbert Becaud recorded the song under the title "Je t'appartiens" in 1955. American pop standards singer Jill Corey released an English language version of the song in 1957 and it climbed to #57 on the US pop chart.

The Everly Brothers recording of "Let It Be Me" has a more lush orchestration than their previous hits. It used eight violins and a cello. They took the song to #7 on the US pop singles chart. "Let It Be Me" was also the duo's final single for the Cadence label before they moved to Warner Bros.

A 1964 duet version by soul singers Betty Everett and Jerry Butler climbed to #5, and later versions by Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry as a duet and a solo recording by Willie Nelson all hit the pop top 40 as well. Bob Dylan included his own version of "Let It Be Me" on the 1970 album Self Portrait.

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9. "(Til) I Kissed You" (1959)

Everly Brothers Til I Kissed You
Courtesy Cadence

Country star Chet Atkins, an early supporter of the Everly Brothers' career, plays guitar on this classic. Buddy Harman, a legendary country session musician with more than 18,000 appearances, played on the record. With its gentle bounce, "(Til) I Kissed You" was the Everly Brothers' final top 10 hit on the country chart. It also peaked inside the top 10 on the pop chart and climbed to #22 on the R&B chart. The end of the 1950s marked the end of the Everly Brothers success across three different genres. They only appeared on the R&B chart two more times in the 1960s and didn't return to the country chart until 1984.

Country singer Connie Smith covered "(Til) I Kissed You" in 1976 and took it to the top 10 of the country chart. Reggae singer Jimmy London topped the Jamaican charts with his cover of "(Til) I Kissed You."

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8. "Crying In the Rain" (1962)

Everly Brothers Crying In the Rain
Courtesy Warner Bros.

The song "Crying In the Rain" is the result of a one-off collaboration between songwriters Howard Greenfield and Carole King. The pair had switched away from their usual collaborators for a day and "Crying In the Rain" is the result. The pair never wrote together again. The Everly Brothers hit the pop top 10 with this song shortly before their service in the US Marines that signaled a shift in the pair's commercial pop fortunes. They performed the song live in full uniform on the Ed Sullivan Show February 18, 1962. It is their first hit single to come from the Brill Building collection of pop songwriters.

In 1990 the Norwegian pop band A-ha covered "Crying In the Rain." It was an international pop hit reaching the top 10 in several countries and climbing to #26 on the adult contemporary chart in the US. Country singer Tammy Wynette covered "Crying In the Rain" in 1981 and took it to the top 20 on the country chart.

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7. "Walk Right Back" (1961)

Everly Brothers Walk Right Back
Courtesy Warner Bros.

Reportedly, when songwriter Sonny Curtis played this song for the Everly Brothers, he had only written one verse of lyrics.  The duo told him they would record the song if he wrote another.  However, the Everly Brothers were so into the song they made a recording with the sole verse repeated before Sonny Curtis had a chance to finish a second one.  Nevertheless, "Walk Right Back" was another top 10 pop smash for the duo. Later recordings by Perry Como and Andy Williams among others included the second verse to the song. However, it wasn't until Anne Murray recorded it in the same fashion as the Everly Brothers leaving out the second verse that the song became a chart hit again peaking at #4 on the country chart. Anne Murray performed her version of the song live on The Muppet Show.

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6. "All I Have To Do Is Dream" (1958)

Everly Brothers All I Have To Do Is Dream
Courtesy Cadence

This sweet rock and roll ballad continued the Everly Brothers' fertile collaboration with married songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.  The romantic, lightly rocking chorus helped the song be the second and last by the duo to top the pop, country, and R&B charts. Country legend Chet Atkins plays guitar on the recording. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has named "All I Have To Do Is Dream" as one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004. The B-Side of the Everly Brothers record "Claudette" was Roy Orbison's first major songwriting success. He signed a contract with the Everly Brothers' publisher Acuff-Rose Music and two years later had his first major pop smash "Only the Lonely."

Richard Chamberlain covered "All I Have To Do Is Dream" in 1963 and took it to #4 on the pop chart. The duo of Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry recorded "All I Have To Do Is Dream" in 1970 and reached #27. A cover by Andy Gibb and Victoria Principal went to #51 on the pop chart in 1981.

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5. "When Will I Be Loved" (1960)

Everly Brothers When Will I Be Loved
Courtesy Cadence

"When Will I Be Loved" finds the Everly Brothers in swaying rockabilly style.  The song is best known today in its hit version by Linda Ronstadt.  However, the original recording carries plenty of its own charms including the harmonies that lead into and carry through the song's chorus. Phil Everly wrote the song and it peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Wesley Rose, a driving force in the development of the country music industry, produced the record. The Everly Brothers had already left the record label Cadence and released their first #1 Warner Bros. smash "Cathy's Clown" when Cadence pulled "When Will I Be Loved" and released it. Legendary session musicians Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer, and Buddy Harman all played on the record.

Linda Ronstadt recorded "When Will I Be Loved" for her album Heart Like a Wheel in 1975. She changed the order of the lyric verses. Following the #1 success of her recording of "You're No Good," Linda Ronstadt took "When Will I Be Loved" to #2 on the pop chart, #1 on the country chart, and #3 on the adult contemporary chart. 

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4. "Bird Dog" (1958)

Everly Brothers Bird Dog
Courtesy Cadence

"Bird Dog" rocks a bit harder than the Everly Brothers' earlier hits.  It is memorable for the spoken word segments that add up to the main character in the song being a "bird dog."  The song was another smash hit for the duo reaching #1 on the country chart as well as #2 on both pop and R&B charts. "Bird Dog" was an international, too, climbing to the top of pop charts in the UK and Canada. The song was written by Boudleaux Bryant who wrote many of the duo's early hits. The B-side "Devoted To You" also reached the top 10 on the US pop, country, and R&B charts. Carly Simon and James Taylor covered "Devoted To You" in 1978 and it hit #13 on the pop chart and #3 on the adult contemporary chart.

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3. "Wake Up Little Susie" (1957)

Everly Brothers Wake Up Little Susie
Courtesy Cadence

The Everly Brothers returned to songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who wrote "Bye Bye Love," for this story song. "Wake Up Little Susie" was banned from some radio stations who believed the tale of falling asleep at a boring movie was sexually suggestive. That didn't stop the song from becoming a big hit hitting #1 on country, R&B, and pop singles charts. Film director David Lynch has mentioned "Wake Up Little Susie" as the first record he ever bought. Simon and Garfunkel released a live version of the song in 1982 that went to #27 on the pop chart in the US.

"Wake Up Little Susie" had international success. It climbed to #2 on the UK pop singles chart. Rolling Stone ranked it as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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2. "Cathy's Clown" (1960)

Everly Brothers Cathy's Clown
Courtesy Warner Bros.

"Cathy's Clown" was the first single released by the Everly Brothers after moving to the Warner Bros. label. The towering chorus helped make it the biggest hit single of the pair's career. The persistent drum rolls also add to the power of the emotions experienced by the song's protagonist who can't seem to rid himself of a manipulative girlfriend. The drum sound was obtained by recording the drums on a tape loop and creating the illusion of two drummers. The rhythmic elements of "Cathy's Clown" helped it hit #1 on both the pop and R&B singles charts. Legendary piano player Floyd Cramer appears on the record. Musically, "Cathy's Clown" was inspired by Ferde Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite. The Beatles later acknowledged the vocal arrangements on "Cathy''s Clown" as an influence on their early single "Please Please Me."

"Cathy's Clown" was the first single that the Everly Brothers released on the Warner Bros. label after leaving Cadence. Their contract was reported to be the first million dollar contract in pop music history. "Cathy's Clown" was the first song to top pop charts in the US and UK simultaneously. It spent five weeks at #1 in the US and seven weeks at the top in the UK. It is included on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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1. "Bye Bye Love" (1957)

Everly Brothers Bye Bye Love
Courtesy Cadence

Although the song "Bye Bye Love" had been rejected by 30 other artists, it was the song that blasted the Everly Brothers, into national charts, and it remains their best. The recording is not completely country and not completely rock and roll either. As a result, "Bye Bye Love" topped the country chart, went to #2 on pop charts and even climbed into the R&B top 5 making the duo superstars in all three genres.

A reworked version of "Bye Bye Love" was used in the Academy Award-nominated film All That Jazz. Simon and Garfunkel recorded their own cover of "Bye Bye Love" to add to the Bridge Over Troubled Water album. Rolling Stone lists "Bye Bye Love" as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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