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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Top 100 Songs of the Pre-Rock Era (1900-1953)

Originally posted 6/23/12. Updated 7/30/14.

cover for upcoming Top 100 Songs of the Pre-Rock Era book


This will eventually become a companion book to The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999, available at DavesMusicDatabase.com as a standard book or ebook!

When I was in the beginning stages of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999, the intent was to write a “top 100 songs of all time” book. As I quickly discovered, most lists which proclaimed to offer the best of all time are really focused on the latter half of the second century. I decided to retool my project to focus on those years with the idea that I would later roll out another book focused on the pre-rock era.

That book is still in the works, but I thought I’d roll out the list as it stands now as a teaser. As always with DMDB lists, the rankings are determined by aggregating multiple best-of lists and factoring in songs’ sales, chart stats, and awards. It should be noted that in the pre-rock era there were often multiple versions of a song. In fact, some best-of lists did not list a specific version. When the latter occurred, all versions of a song were given points. Once all points were compiled, only the top version of a song was included in this list.


The Top 100 Songs of the Pre-Rock Era (1900-1953)

1. Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers…White Christmas (1942)
2. Judy Garland…Over the Rainbow (1939)
3. Glenn Miller…In the Mood (1939)
4. Arthur Collins with Byron Harlan…Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1911)
5. Fred Astaire with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra…Night and Day (1932)
6. Gene Austin…My Blue Heaven (1927)
7. Artie Shaw…Star Dust (1941)
8. Paul Whiteman…Whispering (1920)
9. Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers & Leo Reisman’s Orchestra…Cheek to Cheek (1935)
10. Artie Shaw…Begin the Beguine (1938)

11. Billy Murray…You’re a Grand Old Flag (aka “The Grand Old Rag”) (1906)
12. American Quartet…Over There (1917)
13. Al Jolson…April Showers (1922)
14. Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong…St. Louis Blues (1925)
15. Ethel Waters…Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All the Time) (1933)
16. Patti Page…Tennessee Waltz (1950)
17. Al Jolson…Swanee (1920)
18. The Mills Brothers…Paper Doll (1942)
19. Les Brown with Doris Day…Sentimental Journey (1945)
20. Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra…I’ll Never Smile Again (1940)

21. Fred Astaire with Johnny Green & His Orcestra…The Way You Look Tonight (1936)
22. Vernon Dalhart…The Prisoner’s Song (1925)
23. Ben Selvin…Dardanella (1920)
24. Peerless Quartet…Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1911)
25. The Weavers with Gordon Jenkins…Goodnight Irene (1950)
26. Dooley Wilson…As Time Goes By (1943)
27. Gene Autry…Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1949)
28. Jo Stafford…You Belong to Me (1952)
29. Coleman Hawkins…Body and Soul (1940)
30. Haydn Quartet…Sweet Adeline (You’re the Flower of My Heart) (1904)

31. Bing Crosby with George Stoll’s Orchestra…Pennies from Heaven (1936)
32. Billy Murray with the Haydn Quartet…Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1908)
33. Duke Ellington…Mood Indigo (1931)
34. Vaughn Monroe…Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend) (1949)
35. Ella Ftizgerald with Chick Webb…A-Tisket, A-Tasket (1938)
36. Francis Craig with Bob Lamm…Near You (1947)
37. Artie Shaw…Frenesi (1940)
38. Billy Murray with Haydn Quartet…By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1910)
39. Nat “King” Cole…The Christmas Song (1946)
40. Paul Whiteman with Bob Lawrence…Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (1933)

41. The Harmonicats…Peg O’ My Heart (1947)
42. Thomas “Fats” Waller…Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1929)
43. Glenn Miller with Tex Beneke & the Four Modernaires…Chattanooga Choo Choo (1941)
44. Billy Murray…Give My Regards to Broadway (1905)
45. Byron Harlan…School Days (When We Were a Couple of Kids) (1907)
46. Tommy Dorsey with Jack Leonard…All the Things You Are (1939)
47. Billy Murray…Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis (1904)
48. Nat “King” Cole…Mona Lisa (1950)
49. Al Jolson…You Made Me Love You, I Didn’t Want to Do It (1913)
50. Original Dixieland Jazz Band…Tiger Rag (1918)

51. The Ink Spots…If I Didn’t Care (1939)
52. American Quartet…Moonlight Bay (1912)
53. Paul Robeson…Ol’ Man River (1928)
54. Dinah Shore & Her Harper Valley Boys…Buttons and Bows (1948)
55. Isham Jones…It Had to Be You (1924)
56. Ben Selvin…Happy Days Are Here Again (1930)
57. Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra…I’ll Be Seeing You (1944)
58. Billy Murray…Yankee Doodle Boy (1905)
59. Bing Crosby…Silent Night (1935)
60. Al Jolson…Sonny Boy (1928)

61. Haydn Quartet…In the Good Old Summertime (1903)
62. American Quartet with Billy Murray…Casey Jones (1910)
63. Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra & the Williams Brothers Quartet…Swinging on a Star (1944)
64. Les Paul with Mary Ford…How High the Moon (1951)
65. After You’ve Gone...Marion Harris (1919)
66. Harry James with Helen Forrest…I’ve Heard That Song Before (1943)
67. The Ink Spots…The Gypsy (1946)
68. Billie Holiday…Strange Fruit (1939)
69. Paul Whiteman with George Gershwin…Rhapsody in Blue (1924)
70. Duke Ellington…Take the “A” Train (1941)

71. Kate Smith…God Bless America (1939)
72. Harry MacDonough with Elise Stevenson (as Miss Walton)…Shine on, Harvest Moon (1909)
73. Cab Calloway…Minnie the Moocher (The Ho De Ho Song) (1931)
74. Perry Como…Till the End of Time (1945)
75. Larry Clinton with Bea Wain…Deep Purple (1939)
76. Henry Burr with Albert Campbell…Till We Meet Again (1919)
77. Sophie Tucker…Some of These Days (1911)
78. Johnnie Ray & the Four Lads…Cry (1951)
79. Bunny Berigan & His Orchestra…I Can’t Get Started (1938)
80. Al Jolson…Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody (1918)

81. Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters… Don’t Fence Me In (1944)
82. Cliff Edwards…When You Wish Upon a Star (1940)
83. Roy Acuff & the Smoky Mountain Boys…Wabash Cannonball (1938)
84. Marion Harris…Tea for Two (1925)
85. Nat “King” Cole with Frank DeVol… Nature Boy (1948)
86. Marion Harris…The Man I Love (1928)
87. Chauncey Olcott…When Irish Eyes Are Smiling (1913)
88. Johnny Mercer with the Pied Pipers… Ac-Cent-Tchu-ate the Positive (1945)
89. Arthur Collins…Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home (1902)
90. Judy Garland with Gene Kelly…For Me and My Gal (1942)

91. Les Paul & Mary Ford…Vaya Con Dios (May God Be with You) (1953)
92. Summertime…Billie Holiday (1936)
93. Harry MacDonough…Down by the Old Mill Stream (1911)
94. Louis Armstrong…West End Blues (1928)
95. Glenn Miller…Moonlight Serenade (1939)
96. John McCormack…It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary (1915)
97. Cliff Edwards…I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (1928)
98. Anton Karas…The Third Man Theme (1950)
99. Jimmie Rodgers…Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas) (1928)
100. Woody Guthrie…This Land Is Your Land (1944)


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