Tin Pan Alley:
Top 100 Songs
Tin Pan Alley is a reference to a collection of late 19th century and early 20th century music publishers and songwriters in New York City, specifically West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Manhattan. The era is generally marked as starting in 1885 when a number of music publishers first set up shop in the area. Some consider the start of the Great Depression in the 1930s to mark the ending – a time when sheet music was no longer the driving force for American popular music, but a time when the phonograph, radio, and movies had more influence. Others consider the movement to have lasted into the 1950s when it was upstated by the rise of rock & roll and the subsequent influence of writers from the Brill Building. Some of the the most significant Tin Pan Alley writers were Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, George M. Cohan, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern, Frank Loesser, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and Albert Von Tilzer. The phrase, however, has come to be associated more broadly with commercially successful music of the early 20th century.
This list was creating by aggregating 18 lists and giving extra weight to songs which fell between 1885 and 1933 and were written by one of the significant songwriters specifically associated with the Tin Pan Alley era. Songs are listed with the songwriters and first year the song emerged. These songs have largely become standards; more than half of them appear on the DMDB list of the top 100 American Songbook Standards .
Click here to see other genre-specific song lists.
1. Irving Berlin “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (1911)
11. George M. Cohan “Give My Regards to Broadway” (1904)
21. Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks “All of Me” (1931)
31. Ben Bernie, Kenneth Casey, and Maceo Pinkard “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1925)
41. Harry Von Tilzer and Andrew B. Sterling “Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie” (1905)
51. Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler “Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All the Time)” (1933)
61. Joe Burke and Al Dubin “Tip Toe Through the Tulips” (1929)
71. Victor Young and Will Harris “Sweet Sue, Just You” (1928)
81. Richard H. Gerard and Harry Armstrong “Sweet Adeline (You’re the Flower of My Heart)” (1903)
91. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II “Ol’ Man River” (1927)
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First posted 4/17/2021.