Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Steve Sullivan’s Top 100 from 1897-1956

Steve Sullivan:

Top 100 Songs, 1897-1956

Steve Sullivan’s Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings is as good as it gets when it comes to music writing. In his two-volume set, he explores more than 1000 songs in detail. In the lead-up to the book, however, he also published two lists on his personal Facebook page – “The 200 Greatest Song Recordings: 1889-1953” and “Traditional Pop: The All-Time Top 200+Classic Performances.” The list below is an average of the three lists, with the top 70 appearing on all three lists. In the event of ties, songs were ranked based on most points in Dave’s Music Database.

Click here to see other lists from critics and individuals and here to see other lists from publications and/or organizations

1. Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers “White Christmas” (1942)
2. Paul Whiteman with George Gershwin “Rhapsody in Blue” (1924)
3. Glenn Miller “In the Mood” (1939)
4. Judy Garland “Over the Rainbow” (1939)
5. Coleman Hawkins “Body and Soul” (1940)
6. Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong “St. Louis Blues” (1925)
7. Les Paul with Mary Ford “How High the Moon” (1951)
8. Duke Ellington “Take the ‘A’ Train” (1941)
9. Lena Horne “Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All the Time)” (1943)
10. Paul Robeson “Ol’ Man River” (1928)

11. Artie Shaw “Begin the Beguine” (1938)
12. Arthur Collins with Byron Harlan “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (1911)
13. Sophie Tucker “Some of These Days” (1911)
14. Duke Ellington “Mood Indigo” (1931)
15. Artie Shaw “Stardust” (1941)
16. Bing Crosby “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (1932)
17. Nat “King” Cole “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” (1946)
18. Billy Murray “You’re a Grand Old Flag (aka “The Grand Old Rag”)” (1906)
19. Billy Murray with the Haydn Quartet “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (1908)
20. American Quartet with Billy Murray “Casey Jones” (1910)

21. John Philip Sousa “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (1897)
22. Fred Astaire with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra “Night and Day” (1932)
23. Marion Harris “The Man I Love” (1928)
24. Bunny Berigan & His Orchestra “I Can’t Get Started” (1938)
25. Ethel Waters “Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All the Time)” (1933)
26. Vess Ossman “Maple Leaf Rag” (1907)
27. Fred Astaire with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra “Cheek to Cheek” (1935)
28. The Weavers with Gordon Jenkins “Goodnight Irene” (1950)
29. Glenn Miller Orchestra “Moonlight Serenade” (1939)
30. Paul Whiteman “Whispering” (1920)

31. Louis Armstrong “Stardust” (1931)
32. American Quartet “Over There” (1917)
33. Billie Holiday “Summertime” (1936)
34. Rosemary Clooney “Tenderly (1952)
35. Marion Harris “After You’ve Gone” (1919)
36. Louis Jordan “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” (1946)
37. Ben Selvin “Dardanella” (1920)
38. Dooley Wilson “As Time Goes By” (1942)
39. Gene Austin “My Blue Heaven” (1927)
40. Fred Astaire with Johnny Green & His Orcestra “The Way You Look Tonight” (1936)

41. American Quartet “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary” (1914)
42. Artie Shaw “Frenesi” (1940)
43. Jo Stafford “You Belong to Me” (1952)
44. Louis Armstrong “St. Louis Blues” (1930)
45. Frank Sinatra “I Get a Kick Out of You” (1954)
46. Louis Armstrong “Ain’t Misbehavin’” (1929)
47. Byron Harlan “School Days (When We Were a Couple of Kids)” (1907)
48. Les Brown with Doris Day “Sentimental Journey” (1945)
49. Gene Kelly “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952)
50. Duke Ellington with Ivie Anderson “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” (1941)

51. The Ink Spots “If I Didn’t Care” (1939)
52. Nat “King” Cole “Embraceable You” (1943)
53. Billy Murray with Haydn Quartet “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” (1910)
54. Benny Goodman “Don’t Be That Way” (1938)
55. Billy Murray “Yankee Doodle Boy” (1905)
56. Original Dixieland Jazz Band “Tiger Rag” (1918)
57. Billy Murray “Give My Regards to Broadway” (1905)
58. Cab Calloway “Minnie the Moocher (The Ho De Ho Song)” (1931)
59. Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra “I’ll Never Smile Again” (1940)
60. Ben Selvin “Happy Days Are Here Again” (1930)

61. Bert Williams “Nobody” (1906)
62. Benny Goodman with Martha Tilton “And the Angels Sing” (1939)
63. Al Jolson “April Showers” (1922)
64. Haydn Quartet “Sweet Adeline (You’re the Flower of My Heart)” (1904)
65. Harry MacDonough with Olive Kline “They Didn't Believe Me” (1915)
66. Vernon Dalhart “The Prisoner’s Song” (1925)
67. Peerless Quartet “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” (1911)
68. Billie Holiday “Body and Soul” (1940)
69. Glenn Miller “A String of Pearls” (1942)
70. Heidelberg Quintet “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee” (1912)

71. Louis Armstrong “West End Blues” (1928)
72. Woody Guthrie “This Land Is Your Land” (1944)
73. Benny Goodman “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” (1938)
74. Billie Holiday “Strange Fruit” (1939)
75. T-Bone Walker “Call It Stormy Monday” (1948)
76. Bessie Smith “Down Hearted Blues” (1923)
77. Jimmie Rodgers “Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas)” (1928)
78. Duke Ellington “Ko-Ko” (1940)
79. Charlie Parker “Parker’s Mood” (1948)
80. Flatt & Scruggs “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” (1950)

81. Victor Symphony Orchestra with Nat Shilkret & George Gerswhin “An American in Paris” (1929)
82. The Carter Family “Can the Circle Be Unbroken (Bye and Bye)” (1935)
83. Charlie Parker with Miles Davis & Dizzy Gillespie “Ko-Ko” (1945)
84. Roy Acuff “Wabash Cannonball” (1938)
85. Frank Sinatra “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (1956)
86. Robert Johnson “Crossroad Blues” (1936)
87. Clarence Ashley “The Coo Coo Bird” (1929)
88. Mamie Smith “Crazy Blues” (1920)
89. Blind Willie Johnson “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” (1927)
90. Geeshie Wiley “Last Kind Word Blues” (1930)

91. Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers with Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon “Christ Was Born on Christmas Morn” (1929)
92. Judy Garland with Ray Heindorf “The Man That Got Away” (1954)
93. Mahalia Jackson “Move on Up a Little Higher” (1948)
94. The Carter Family “Wildwood Flower” (1928)
95. Billie Holiday “God Bless the Child” (1941)
96. Louis Armstrong “Hotter Than That” (1928)
97. Don Azpiazu with Arturo Machin “The Peanut Vendor (El Manicero)” (1930)
98. Clarence “Pinetop” Smith “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” (1929)
99. Bessie Smith “Lost Your Head Blues” (1926)
100. Europe’s Society Orchestra “Down Home Rag” (1914)

Steve Sullivan Song Lists:

Resources/Related Links:

First posted 7/25/2014; last updated 7/28/2022.


  1. ased on Steve Sullivan's top 100 songs from 1897-1956, Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" tops the list, followed by Paul Whiteman's "Rhapsody in Blue" and Glenn Miller's "In the Mood". Other classics include Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow", Louis Armstrong's "St. Louis Blues", and Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train". Les Paul and Mary Ford's "How High the Moon" and Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All the Time)" also make the cut. The list showcases the best of traditional pop, jazz, and big band music, and includes timeless favorites like "Moonlight Serenade" and "Stardust". The bow-shoulder ruched sidestroke of these songs is undeniable, and their enduring popularity proves that they will continue to be cherished for generations to come.

  2. Steve Sullivan's Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings is a must-read for music lovers. In his two-volume set, he explores over 1000 songs in detail, including Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," Paul Whiteman's "Rhapsody in Blue," and Glenn Miller's "In the Mood." The list below is an average of Sullivan's personal Facebook lists, with the top 70 appearing on all three lists. Other notable songs include Les Paul's "How High the Moon," Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train," and Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow." WirefieldLighting invites you to listen to these timeless classics and experience the magic of these great recordings.