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Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Top 100 Songs of the Pre-Rock Era (1890-1953)

Originally posted 6/23/2012. Updated 11/24/2016.

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 (1890-1953)

1. White Christmas… Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers (1942)
2. Over the Rainbow… Judy Garland (1939)
3. Night and Day…Fred Astaire with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra (1932)
4. Alexander’s Ragtime Band…Arthur Collins with Byron Harlan (1911)
5. In the Mood…Glenn Miller (1939)
6. Star Dust…Artie Shaw (1941)
7. St. Louis Blues…Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong (1925)
8. Cheek to Cheek…Fred Astaire & Leo Reisman’s Orchestra (1935)
9. My Blue Heaven…Gene Austin (1927)
10. Begin the Beguine…Artie Shaw (1938)

11. Over There…American Quartet (1917)
12. Whispering…Paul Whiteman (1920)
13. Swanee…Al Jolson (1920)
14. You’re a Grand Old Flag (aka “The Grand Old Rag”)…Billy Murray (1906)
15. April Showers…Al Jolson (1922)
16. Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All the Time)…Ethel Waters (1933)
17. All the Things You Are…Tommy Dorsey with Jack Leonard (1939)
18. Let Me Call You Sweetheart…Peerless Quartet (1911)
19. The Way You Look Tonight…Fred Astaire with Johnny Green & His Orcestra (1936)
20. Sweet Adeline (You’re the Flower of My Heart)…Haydn Quartet (1904)

21. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer…Gene Autry (1949)
22. Tennessee Waltz…Patti Page (1950)
23. As Time Goes By…Dooley Wilson (1942)
24. Ol’ Man River…Paul Robeson (1928)
25. Peg O’ My Heart…The Harmonicats (1947)
26. Pennies from Heaven…Bing Crosby with George Stoll’s Orchestra (1936)
27. Body and Soul…Coleman Hawkins (1940)
28. Paper Doll…The Mills Brothers (1942)
29. Moonlight Bay…American Quartet (1912)
30. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)…Al Jolson (1913)

31. Dardanella…Ben Selvin (1920)
32. Take Me Out to the Ball Game…Billy Murray with the Haydn Quartet (1908)
33. Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis…Billy Murray (1904)
34. You Belong to Me…Jo Stafford (1952)
35. Ain’t Misbehavin’…Thomas “Fats” Waller (1929)
36. Goodnight Irene…The Weavers with Gordon Jenkins (1950)
37. Tea for Two…Marion Harris (1925)
38. Give My Regards to Broadway…Billy Murray (1905)
39. A-Tisket, A-Tasket…Ella Ftizgerald with Chick Webb (1938)
40. By the Light of the Silvery Moon…Billy Murray with Haydn Quartet (1910)

41. Mood Indigo…Duke Ellington (1931)
42. The Prisoner’s Song…Vernon Dalhart (1925)
43. I’ll Never Smile Again…Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra (1940)
44. Near You…Francis Craig with Bob Lamm (1947)
45. Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend)…Vaughn Monroe (1949)
46. In the Good Old Summertime…Haydn Quartet (1903)
47. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love…Cliff Edwards (1928)
48. Shine on, Harvest Moon…Harry MacDonough with Elise Stevenson (as Miss Walton) (1909)
49. Sentimental Journey…Les Brown with Doris Day (1945)
50. The Christmas Song…Nat “King” Cole (1946)

51. It Had to Be You…Isham Jones (1924)
52. Chattanooga Choo Choo…Glenn Miller with Tex Beneke & the Four Modernaires (1941)
53. Happy Days Are Here Again…Ben Selvin (1930)
54. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes…Paul Whiteman with Bob Lawrence (1933)
55. When You Wish Upon a Star…Cliff Edwards (1940)
56. School Days (When We Were a Couple of Kids)…Byron Harlan (1907)
57. God Bless America…Kate Smith (1939)
58. Blue Moon…Glen Gray with Kenny Sargent (1935)
59. I Got Rhythm...Red Nichols (1930)
60. Yankee Doodle Boy…Billy Murray (1905)

61. Tiger Rag…Original Dixieland Jazz Band (1918)
62. Till We Meet Again…Henry Burr with Albert Campbell (1919)
63. How High the Moon…Les Paul with Mary Ford (1951)
64. I’ll Be Seeing You…Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra (1944)
65. Mona Lisa… Nat “King” Cole (1950)
66. Buttons and Bows…Dinah Shore & Her Harper Valley Boys (1948)
67. Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home…Arthur Collins (1902)
68. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling…Chauncey Olcott (1913)
69. Deep Purple…Larry Clinton with Bea Wain (1939)
70. Strange Fruit…Billie Holiday (1939)

71. Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody…Al Jolson (1918)
72. My Gal Sal…Byron Harlan (1907)
73. It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary…John McCormack (1915)
74. Swinging on a Star…Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra & the Williams Brothers Quartet (1944)
75. Always…George Olsen with Fran Frey, Bob Rice, & Edward Joye (1926)
76. Sonny Boy…Al Jolson (1928)
77. The Gypsy…The Ink Spots (1946)
78. Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie…Byron Harlan (1906)
79. Frenesi…Artie Shaw (1940)
80. Casey Jones… American Quartet with Billy Murray (1910)

81. On the Sunny Side of the Street…Ted Lewis (1930)
82. Ain’t We Got Fun?...Van & Schenck (1921)
83. I’ve Heard That Song Before…Harry James with Helen Forrest (1943)
84. I’m in the Mood for Love...Little Jack Little (1935)
85. Someone to Watch Over Me...Gertrude Lawrence (1927)
86. Twelfth Street Rag...Pee Wee Hunt (1948)
87. After You’ve Gone…Marion Harris (1919)
88. For Me and My Gal…Judy Garland with Gene Kelly (1942)
89. Dark Town Strutters’ Ball...Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan (1918)
90. My Melancholy Baby... Gene Austin (1928)

91. Blues in the Night (My Mama Done Tol’ Me)...Woody Herman (1941)
92. I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now…Henry Burr (1909)
93. Silent Night…Bing Crosby (1935)
94. Carolina in the Morning...Van & Schenck (1923)
95. Some Enchanted Evening...Perry Como (1949)
96. Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet…Haydn Quartet (1909)
97. Down by the Old Mill Stream…Harry MacDonough (1911)
98. Blue Skies...Ben Selvin (1927)
99. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?...Rudy Vallee (1932)
100. Take the “A” Train…Duke Ellington (1941)


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