Wednesday, May 11, 1988

Irving Berlin - Happy 100th birthday! His Top 100 Songs

Irving Berlin

Top 100 Songs

Composer and lyricist born Israel Isidore Baline, better known as Irving Berlin, was born 100 years ago today on 5/11/1888 in Tyumen, Russia. Died 9/22/1989. George Gershwin called him “the greatest songwriter who ever lived.” Jerome Kern said, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music.” A 2001 Time magazine article estimated Berlin wrote around 1250 songs. 25 have reached #1 on the pop charts. He wrote 17 complete scores for Broadway musicals and revues including Call Me Madam and Annie Get Your Gun. See an extensive list of Berlin songs here. For a complete list of this act’s DMDB honors, check out the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry.

“Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Always,” “God Bless America,” “Blue Skies,” and “White Christmas” – the number 1 song of all time according to the DMDB – are featured in the DMDB book The Top 100 Songs of the Pre-Rock Era, 1890-1953.

For a complete list of this act’s DMDB honors, check out the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry.

Click here to see other acts’ best-of lists.


Top 100 Songs

DMDB Top 1%:

1. White Christmas (Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers & John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra, 1942) #1 US, HP, RB, AU
2. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1911) #1 US
3. Cheek to Cheek (Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra, 1935) #1 US, HP
4. Always (George Olsen with Fran Frey, Bob Rice, & Edward Joyce; 1926) #1 US
5. God Bless America (Kate Smith, 1939)
6. Blue Skies (Ben Selvin, 1927) #1 US
7. Puttin’ on the Ritz (Earl Burtnett & Harry Richman, 1930) #1 US
8. Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (Arthur Fields, 1918) #1 US
9. A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody (John Steel, 1919) #1 US
10. What’ll I Do? (Paul Whiteman, 1924) #1 US

11. When I Lost You (Henry Burr, 1913) #1 US
12. All Alone (Al Jolson with Ray Miller’s Orchestra, 1925) #1 US
13. How Deep is the Ocean? (Guy Lombardo with Carmen Lombardo, 1932)
14. All by Myself (Ted Lewis, 1921) #1 US
15. Say It with Music (Paul Whiteman, 1921) #1 US
16. When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’ (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1913) #1 US

DMDB Top 5%:

17. Marie (Tommy Dorsey with Jack Leonard, 1937) #1 US
18. I’ve Got My love to Keep Me Warm (Les Brown, 1948) #1 US
19. Say It Isn’t So (George Olsen with Paul Small, 1932) #1 US
20. Remember (Isham Jones, 1925) #1 US

21. Mandy (Van & Schenck, 1919)
22. Easter Parade (Leo Reisman with Clifton Webb, 1933)
23. Russian Lullaby (Roger Wolfe Kahn with Henry Garden, 1927) #1 US
24. Change Partners (Fred Astaire with Ray Noble’s Orchestra, 1938) #1 US, HP
25. Let’s Take an Old-Fashioned Walk (Ada Jones & Billy Murray, 1907) #1 US
26. Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1935)
27. Let’s Face the Music and Dance (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1936)
28. Tell Me Little Gypsy (Art Hickman, 1920)
29. I’ll See You in C-U-B-A (Billy Murray, 1920)
30. There’s No Business Like Show Business (Ethel Merman, 1946)

31. You’d Be Surprised (Eddie Cantor, 1920)
32. I Love a Piano (Billy Murray, 1916) #1 US
33. Play a Simple Melody (Billy Murray & Edna Brown, 1916)
34. Nobody Knows and Nobody Seems to Care (Irving & Jack Kaufman, 1920)
35. Doin’ What Comes Naturally (Freddy Martin with Glenn Hughes, 1946)
36. Lazy (Al Jolson with Gene Rodemich’s Orchestra, 1924)
37. This is the Life (Peerless Quartet, 1914)
38. Some Sunny Day (Marion Harris, 1922)
39. They Say It’s Wonderful (Frank Sinatra, 1946) #1 HP
40. The Song Is Ended But the Melody Lingers On (Ruth Etting, 1928)

41. Home Again Blues (Original Dixieland Jazz Band, 1921)
42. He’s a Devil in His Own Home Town (Billy Murray, 1914)
43. I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1936) #1 US
44. After You Get What You Want, You Don’t Want It (Van & Schenck, 1920)
45. They Were All Out of Step But Jim (Billy Murray, 1918)
46. I Want to Go Back to Michigan (Down on the Farm) (Eldia Morris, 1914)
47. He’s a Rag Picker (Peerless Quartet, 1915)
48. When I Leave the World Behind (Henry Burr, 1915)
49. How Many Times? (Benny Krueger, 1926)
50. Heat Wave (Glen Gray with Midred Bailey, 1933)

51. Soft Lights and Sweet Music (Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, 1932)
52. I Got the Sun in the Morning (Les Brown with Doris Day, 1946)
53. Let Yourself Go (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1936)
54. At the Devil’s Ball (Peerless Quartet, 1913)
55. Syncopated Walk (Prince’s Orchestra, 1915)
56. You Keep Coming Back Like a Song (Dinah Shore, 1946) #1 AU
57. Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil (Emil Coleman, 1923)
58. Be Careful, It’s My Heart (Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra, 1942)

DMDB Top 10%:

59. That Mysterious Rag (Arthur Collins & Albert Campbell, 1912)
60. In My Harem (Walter Van Brunt, 1913)
61. The Girl That I Marry (Eddy Howard, 1947)
62. Goodbye France (Nora Bayes, 1919)
63. Reaching for the Moon (Ruth Etting, 1931)
64. Araby (Harry MacDonough, 1916)
65. Down in Chattanooga (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1914)
66. I’m Going Back to Dixie (aka “I Want to Be in Dixie”) (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1912)
67. You’re Just in Love (Perry Como with the Fontane Sisters & Mitchell Ayres Orchestra, 1950) #1 AU
68. Isn’t This a Lovely Day to Be Caught in the Rain? (Fred Astaire with Johnny Greer’s Orchestra, 1935)
69. No Strings (Fred Astaire with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra, 1935)

DMDB Top 20%:

70. It’s a Lovely Day Today (Doris Day with George Siravo’s Orchestra, 1951)
71. Along Came Ruth (Arthur Fields, 1914)
72. From Here to Shanghai (Al Jolson with Charles Prince’s Orchestra, 1917)
73. Let’s All Be Americans Now (American Quartet, 1917)
74. Smile and Show Your Dimple (Sam Ash, 1918)
75. Somebody’s Coming to My House (1913)
76. It Only Happens When I Dance with You (Frank Sinatra, 1948)
77. Count your Blessings Instead of Sheep (Rosemary Clooney, 1954)
78. I Used to Be Color Blind (Fred Astaire with Ray Noble’s Orchestra, 1938)
79. Back to Back (Glenn Miller with Marion Hutton and Tex Beneke, 1939)
80. All of My Life (Sammy Kaye with Billy Williams, 1945)

Beyond the DMDB Top 20%:

81. Anything You Can Do (Ethel Merman & Ray Middleton, 1946)
82. Alexander’s Bag Pipe Band (1912)
83. Supper Time (1933)
84. Fools Fall in Love (1940)
85. I Got Lost in His Arms (1946)
86. The Best Thing for You Would Be Me (1950)
87. Mr. Jazz Himself (1917)
88. Over the Seas, Boys (1918)
89. You Cannot Make Your Shimmy Shake on Tea (1919)
90. Steppin’ Out with My Baby (Fred Astaire, 1947)

91. Stay Down Here Where You Belong (Henry Burr, 1915)
92. Always Treat Her Like a Baby (1914)
93. Try It on Your Piano (1910)
94. Cuddle Up (1911)
95. Dog Gone That Chilly Man (1911)
96. Sombrero Land (1911)
97. That Monkey Tune (1911)
98. When I’m Alone I’m Lonesome (1911)
99. The Monkey Doodle Doo (1913)
100. The Old Maids Ball (1913)

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 12/7/2019; last updated 6/5/2022.

Monday, May 9, 1988

Terence Trent D’Arby “Wishing Well” hit #1

Wishing Well

Terence Trent D’Arby

Writer(s): Terence Trent D’Arby, Sean Oliver (see lyrics here)

Released: June 1987

First Charted: June 20, 1987

Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 3 RR, 44 AC, 11 RB, 1 CO, 4 UK, 12 CN, 9 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 23.2 video, 53.16 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

When Terence Trent D’Arby released his debut album, Introducing the Hardline, in 1987, he proclaimed himself a genius who’d made an album “that was better than Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” SG He later said, “A lot of it is what I truly believed, but a lot of it was exaggerated to make a point. You have to hit people over the head to make them notice.” FB Genius or not, the “’Wishing Well’ video makes it clear: D’Arby was a rare and special talent. He could sing. He could move. He could dress. “ SG “He was a star

“D’Arby was an old-school ’60s-style soul rasper…[who] drew on gospel and on the soul singers – Al Green, Sam Cooke, James Brown – who had drawn on gospel in earlier decades.” SG The Manhattan-born singer was embraced much quicker in the UK where “Wishing Well” charted nearly a year before it topped the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, when “Wishing Well” debuted on the chart in January 1988, D’Arby was already working on his third top-10 hit in the UK. By the time he’d reached #1 four months later, D’Arby had been nominated for Best New Artist and performed the song at the Grammys.

The song “has a slick, simple groove anchored to a big drum sound, with sparkly bluesy guitars and evocative little synth drones. The song is both playful and portentous, and it’s got an extremely catchy whistled hook that’ll bounce around the inside of your skull. D’Arby sings the absolute hell out of it, screaming and grunting and hitting heavenly falsetto runs.” SG

“Lyrically, ‘Wishing Well’ is basically a love song, though its lyrics are flowery romantic-poet gibberish…D’Arby sings of a wishing well that’s full of both butterfly tears and crocodile cheers, which doesn’t make any sense.” SG He said, it “was written when I was in a half-asleep, half-awake state of mind. I like the feel of the words on that song. Actually, most of my lyrics are written in about 10 minutes.” FB


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Terence Trent D’Arby
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 697.
  • SG Stereogum (4/30/2021). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan

Related Links:

First posted 8/5/2022.

Saturday, May 7, 1988

Tracy Chapman charted with “Fast Car”

Fast Car

Tracy Chapman

Writer(s): Tracy Chapman (see lyrics here)

Released: April 6, 1988

First Charted: May 7, 1988

Peak: 6 US, 4 CB, 8 RR, 7 AC, 19 AR, 5 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 163.6 video, 515.68 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Tracy Chapman was a hardened veteran of Boston coffeehouse gigs (she once got a demo-tape rejection letter suggesting she tune her guitar) when a classmate at Tufts University told his music-publisher dad to check her out. Soon after, she made her 1988 debut, featuring this haunting meditation on escape.” RS Chris Gerard of Metro Weekly describes the song as “a grittily realistic story of a working poor woman trying to escape the cycle of poverty.” WK Critic Dave Marsh called it “an optimistic folk-rock narrative.” WK Chapman said “It’s not really about a car at all…basically it’s about a relationship that doesn’t work out because it’s starting from the wrong place.” SF

Chapman was relatively unknown when she was booked as one of the acts for the Nelson Mandela 70th birthday concert at Wembley Stadium. Her appearance at the June 11, 1988 event served as a catalyst for her career breakthrough. She performed a few songs in the afternoon and thought she was done for the day, but was called back when Stevie Wonder’s performance was delayed. She performed “Fast Car” in front of a huge prime time audience and the song subsequently raced up the charts. SF

It went to #1 in Canada and was a top-ten hit in the United States, the U.K. and Australia. It was nominated for Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. The song got renewed attention in 2011 when Britain’s Got Talent contestant Michael Collings performed the song. Chapman’s original re-charted in the UK, besting its original #5 ranking by one spot. WK

In 2015, British record producer Jonas Blue released a dance version featuring singer Dakota. It reached #2 on the UK charts and hit #1 in Australia, giving the remake greater chart success than the original in those countries. Blue said Chapman’s song was a favorite of his mother’s. WK Among other artists to perform the song: R.E.M., Matchbox 20, and Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry in a duet. BC


Related Links:

First posted 11/14/2019; last updated 9/22/2022.

Monday, May 2, 1988

Melissa Etheridge debut released

Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge

Released: May 2, 1988

Peak: 22 US, -- UK, -- CN, 3 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 2.94 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: mainstream rock


Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Similar Features [4:42] (3/13/88, 94 US, 6 AR, 93 CN, 34 AU)
  2. Chrome Plated Heart [3:59] (10/13/88, 22 AR)
  3. Like the Way I Do [5:23] (8/3/88, 42 US, 28 AR, 16 CN)
  4. Precious Pain [4:15]
  5. Don’t You Need [4:59] (12/15/88, --)
  6. The Late September Dogs [6:33]
  7. Occasionally [2:36]
  8. Watching You [5:33]
  9. Bring Me Some Water [3:52] (4/27/88, 10 AR, 100 UK, 34 CN, 9 AU)
  10. I Want You [4:07]

All songs written by Melissa Etheridge.

Total Running Time: 45:59


4.015 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)

Quotable: “One of the most stunning debut albums of the 1980s.” – Vik Iyengar, All Music Guide

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“This was one of the most stunning debut albums of the 1980s.” AMG It was “a strong and passionate…album…built during several years of grinding out recognition, one small venue at a time.” CR “Given the domination of synthesizer pop on the radio, Melissa Etheridge was a breath of fresh air.” AMG “Her raw-throated vocals, confessional compositions, and simple yet effective acoustic-built music totally contrasted the flash and fluff which saturated the conventional airwaves.” CR

Her “roots rock album sung with a sensitive bravado often compared to Janis Joplin. Although the passionate vocal deliveries are similar, the comparisons end there: Etheridge is a Midwesterner who was clearly influenced by classic rock artists such as Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp.” AMG

“The main theme explored is the emotional complexity of relationships, and throughout the album she sings about the hunger for affection, the pain of unrequited love, and the fire of obsessive romance.” AMG While there may be “little thematical variation on Melissa Etheridge, it is a very even album which delivers potent tracks throughout.” CR

“The album is full of infectious, up-tempo songs that propel the album forward. Etheridge’s true talent, however, is reconciling uncontrollable emotions such as jealousy with a strong and fiercely independent spirit.” AMG Similar Features “kicks off with measured bass notes before moving into a moderate arrangement led by Etheridge’s acoustic and the subtle electric guitar phrases by Johnny Lee Schell.” CR

Chrome Plated Heart “arrives with a boogie-blues rhythm held together by the kick drum of Craig Krampf along with a slight riff by Schell. Here Etheridge really shines through vocally with biting lyrics: ‘I got a two-dollar stare, Midas in my touch and Delilah in my hair / I got bad intentions on the soles of my shoes with this red hot fever and these chromium blues.’” CR

Like the Way I Do is “a production masterpiece…[with] a consistently strummed acoustic accented by a sharp, double-beat rhythm by bassist Kevin McCormick during the verse. The song uses an ingenious, minimalist approach.” CR It “is a good example of…Etheridge’s early material with dramatic vocals telling a story of heartbreak and longing bordering on obsession.” CR

Precious Pain “is a softer, rolky acoustic tune musically, albeit the lyrics are just as sharp as anywhere else.” CR The Late September Dogs, Occasionally, and Watching You all use minimalist arrangements with ‘Occasionally’ taking this to the extreme with Etheridge’s vocals accompanied only by a slight percussive thumping of the acoustic guitar body.” CR

Bring Me Some Water “captures the overall angst of the album” CR with “the main theme of hunger for affection and pain of unrequited love.” CR She delivers the vocal with a passion that channels Tina Turner. It was enough to get the song nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, ironically losing to Tina Turner.

With its “thumping rhythm and bit of funky bass” I Want You is a “fine tune of unbridled desire to complete the album.” CR

“Etheridge became a role model for a generation of young women who found her to be an uncompromising artist unafraid to expose (and celebrate) her strengths and weaknesses. This is a fine introduction to Melissa Etheridge, and it is one of her most enjoyable albums.” AMG

Notes: A 2003 deluxe edition adds a second disc of the entire album recorded live at the Roxy in Los Angeles in 1988 and another five acoustic performances.

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 3/13/2008; last updated 8/25/2021.