Songs of the Century

The “Songs of the Century” project, sponsored by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), is a nationwide education initiative intended to promote a better understanding of America’s musical and cultural heritage in our schools. Distributed to schools throughout the country, the “Songs of the Century” curriculum is designed to help further an appreciation for the music development process, including songwriting, musicianship, recording, performing, producing, distributing and the development of cultural values.

  • 1890-1920
  • 1920-30
  • 1930-40
  • 1940-50
  • 1950-60
  • 1960-70
  • 1970-80
  • 1980-90
  • 1990-2000

Dawn of a Century (1890-1920)

Song Performer Year
America the Beautiful Louise Homer 1925
Auld Lang Syne Frank Stanley 1907
Let Me Call You Sweetheart The Peerless Quartet 1911
My Old Kentucky Home Geraldine Farrar 1910
Over There The American Quartet 1917
Some of These Days Sophie Tucker 1911
Swing Low Sweet Chariot The Fisk Jubilee Singers 1909
Take Me Out to the Ballgame Billy Murray 1908
The Entertainer Scott Joplin 1902
The Star Spangled Banner John McCormick 1917
The Stars and Stripes Forever Sousa's Band 1896
Tiger Rag Original Dixieland Jazz Band 1918
Vesti La Giubba Enrico Caruso 1907
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling Chauncey Olcott 1913
Yankee Doodle Vess Ossman 1894

The Jazz Age (1920-1930)

Song Performer Year
Ain't Misbehavin' Fats Waller 1929
Blue Yodel (T for Texas) Jimmie Rodgers 1930
Bye Bye Blackbird Gene Austin 1926
Can the Circle Be Unbroken The Carter Family 1935
Charleston Arthur Gibbs & Gang 1924
Down Hearted Blues Bessie Smith 1923
Happy Days Are Here Again Ben Selvin Orchestra 1930
I Wanna Be Loved By You Helen Kane 1928
It Had to Be You Isham Jones Orchestra 1924
King Porter Stomp Jelly Roll Morton 1923
Makin' Whoopee Eddie Cantor 1929
Me and My Shadow Whisperin' Jack Smith 1927
St. Louis Blues W.C. Handy 1923
Star Dust Hoagy Carmichael 1928
Swanee Al Jolson 1920
Sweet Georgia Brown Ben Bernie Orchestra 1925
The Prisoner's Song Vernon Dalhart 1924
When the Saints Go Marching In Louis Armstrong 1938
Whispering Paul Whiteman Orchestra 1920
Yes We Have No Bananas Billy Jones 1923

The Great Depression (1930-1940)

Song Performer Year
Alexander's Ragtime Band The Boswell Sisters 1935
Ave Maria Marian Anderson 1937
Back in the Saddle Again Gene Autry 1938
Brother Can You Spare a Dime Rudy Vallee 1932
Cross Road Blues Robert Johnson 1936
God Bless America Kate Smith 1939
Minnie the Moocher Cab Calloway 1931
Night and Day Fred Astaire 1932
On the Good Ship Lollipop Shirley Temple 1934
One O'Clock Jump Count Basie 1937
Over the Rainbow Judy Garland 1939
Pennies From Heaven Bing Crosby 1936
Porgy and Bess cast recording 1935
Puttin' on the Ritz Harry Richman 1930
Show Boat cast recording 1932
Sing Sing Sing Benny Goodman 1938
Summertime Sidney Bechet 1939
Tea for Two Art Tatum 1939
Thanks for the Memory Bob Hope/Shirley Ross 1939
Tumbling Tumbleweeds Sons of the Pioneers 1934
Wabash Cannonball Roy Acuff 1938
You Are My Sunshine Jimmie Davis 1940
You're the Top Cole Porter 1935

The Swing Era / The War Years (1940-1950)

Song Performer Year
A Tisket A Tasket Ella Fitzgerald 1938
Around Midnight Thelonius Monk 1948
Begin the Beguine Artie Shaw 1938
Blue Moon of Kentucky Bill Monroe 1945
Body and Soul Coleman Hawkins 1940
Boogie Chillun John Lee Hooker 1948
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy The Andrews Sisters 1941
Cattle Call Eddy Arnold 1945
Deep in the Heart of Texas Alvino Ray 1942
Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around The Fairfield Four 1947
God Bless the Child Billie Holiday 1941
Goodnight Irene Leadbelly 1944
Happy Trails Roy Rogers/Dale Evans 1951
If I Didn't Care The Ink Spots 1939
I'll Fly Away The Chuck Wagon Gang 1948
In the Mood Glenn Miller 1939
Move on Up a Little Higher Mahalia Jackson 1948
Near You Francis Craig Orchestra 1947
New San Antonio Rose Bob Wills 1940
Oklahoma! cast recording 1943
Ornithology Charlie Parker Sextet 1946
Paper Doll The Mills Brothers 1943
(Ghost) Riders in the Sky Vaughn Monroe 1949
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Gene Autry 1949
Salt Peanuts Dizzy Gillespie 1945
Sentimental Journey Les Brown 1945
South Pacific cast recording 1949
Stormy Weather Lena Horne 1943
Strange Fruit Billie Holiday 1939
Take the A Train Duke Ellington 1941
This Land Is Your Land Woody Guthrie 1947
When You Wish Upon a Star Cliff Edwards 1940
White Christmas Bing Crosby 1942
Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Johnny Mercer 1946

American Bandstand (1950-1960)

Song Performer Year
At the Hop Danny & The Juniors 1957
Banana Boat (Day-O) Harry Belafonte 1957
Blue Suede Shoes Carl Perkins 1956
Blueberry Hill Fats Domino 1956
Bo Diddley Bo Diddley 1955
Chances Are Johnny Mathis 1957
Django The Modern Jazz Quartet 1954
Donna/ La Bamba Ritchie Valens 1958
Earth Angel The Penguins 1954
Georgia on My Mind Ray Charles 1960
Got My Mojo Workin' Muddy Waters 1956
Great Balls of Fire Jerry Lee Lewis 1957
Heartbreak Hotel Elvis Presley 1956
Hound Dog/ Don't Be Cruel Elvis Presley 1956
How Great Thou Art George Beverly Shea 1955
How High the Moon Les Paul & Mary Ford 1951
I Only Have Eyes for You The Flamingos 1959
I Walk the Line Johnny Cash 1956
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry Hank Williams 1949
In the Still of the Night The Five Satins 1956
Johnny B. Goode Chuck Berry 1958
Kansas City Wilbert Harrison 1959
Kind of Blue Miles Davis 1959
Mack the Knife Bobby Darin 1959
Misty Erroll Garner Trio 1954
Mona Lisa Nat King Cole 1950
Mr. Sandman The Chordettes 1954
My Fair Lady cast recording 1956
On Top of Old Smoky The Weavers 1951
Peggy Sue Buddy Holly 1957
Que Sera Sera Doris Day 1956
Rock Around the Clock *Bill Haley & the Comets 1955
Shake Rattle and Roll Joe Turner 1954
Shout The Isley Brothers 1959
Sixteen Tons Tennessee Ernie Ford 1955
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes The Platters 1958
Summertime Blues Eddie Cochran 1958
Take Five Dave Brubeck 1959
Teen Angel Mark Dinning 1960
Tequila The Champs 1958
That Old Black Magic Louis Prima & Keely Smith 1958
The Battle of New Orleans Johnny Horton 1959
The King and I cast recording 1951
The Music Man cast recording 1958
The Tennessee Waltz Patti Page 1950
Tom Dooley The Kingston Trio 1958
Tutti Frutti Little Richard 1956
Unchained Melody Al Hibbler 1955
Wake Up Little Susie The Everly Brothers 1957
West Side Story cast recording 1957
What'd I Say Ray Charles 1959
Who's Sorry Now Connie Francis 1958
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Frankie Lymon & Teenagers 1956
Yakety Yak The Coasters 1958
You Send Me Sam Cooke 1957
Your Cheatin' Heart Hank Williams 1953
Zodiac Suite Mary Lou Williams 1955

The 'Sixties (1960-1970)

Song Performer Year
A Love Supreme John Coltrane 1964
Abraham, Martin and John Dion 1968
Ain't No Mountain High Enough Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell 1967
All Along the Watchtower Jimi Hendrix 1968
Be My Baby The Ronettes 1963
Blowin' in the Wind Peter, Paul & Mary 1963
Born to be Wild Steppenwolf 1968
By the Time I Get to Phoenix Glen Campbell 1967
California Dreamin' Mamas & Papas 1966
Crying Roy Orbison 1961
Dancing in the Street Martha & The Vandellas 1964
Dock of the Bay Otis Redding 1968
Downtown Petula Clark 1965
El Paso Marty Robbins 1959
Everybody Loves Somebody Dean Martin 1964
Everyday People Sly & The Family Stone 1968
For What It's Worth Buffalo Springfield 1967
Good Vibrations The Beach Boys 1967
Hair cast recording 1969
House of the Rising Sun The Animals 1964
I Fall to Pieces Patsy Cline 1961
I Got You (I Feel Good) James Brown 1965
I Got You Babe Sonny & Cher 1965
I Heard It Through the Grapevine Marvin Gaye 1968
I Left My Heart in San Francisco Tony Bennett 1962
I Want to Hold Your Hand The Beatles 1964
I'm Sorry Brenda Lee 1960
In the Midnight Hour Wilson Pickett 1965
It's My Party Lesley Gore 1963
King of the Road Roger Miller 1965
Leader of the Pack The Shangri-Las 1964
Light My Fire The Doors 1967
Like a Rolling Stone Bob Dylan 1965
Louie Louie The Kingsmen 1963
Love Letters Ketty Lester 1962
Me and Bobby McGee Janis Joplin 1971
Moon River Henry Mancini 1961
My Girl The Temptations 1965
My Guy Mary Wells 1964
My Way Frank Sinatra 1969
O Happy Day Edwin Hawkins Singers 1969
Ode to Billy Joe Bobbie Gentry 1967
Oh Pretty Woman Roy Orbison 1964
On Broadway The Drifters 1963
People Get Ready The Impressions 1965
Proud Mary Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969
Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head B.J. Thomas 1969
Reach Out I'll Be There The Four Tops 1966
Respect Aretha Franklin 1967
Ring of Fire Johnny Cash 1963
Runaround Sue Dion 1961
Satisfaction The Rolling Stones 1965
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band The Beatles 1967
Sing Me Back Home Merle Haggard 1967
So in Love The Tymes 1963
Soul Man Sam & Dave 1967
Sounds of Silence Simon & Garfunkel 1965
Stand By Me Ben E. King 1961
Stand By Your Man Tammy Wynette 1968
Stop in the Name of Love The Supremes 1965
Strangers in the Night Frank Sinatra 1966
The Girl From Ipanema Stan Getz/Astrud Gilberto 1964
The In Crowd Ramsey Lewis Trio 1965
The Lion Sleeps Tonight The Tokens 1961
The Loco-Motion Little Eva 1962
The Sound of Music cast recording 1960
The Thrill Is Gone B.B. King 1969
The Times They Are A-Changin' Bob Dylan 1964
The Tracks of My Tears The Miracles 1965
The Twist Chubby Checker 1960
Turn Turn Turn The Byrds 1965
Walk on By Dionne Warwick 1964
We Shall Overcome Joan Baez 1963
What a Wonderful World Louis Armstrong 1967
What the World Needs Now Is Love Jackie DeShannon 1965
When a Man Loves a Woman Percy Sledge 1966
White Rabbit Jefferson Airplane 1967
Will You Love Me Tomorrow The Shirelles 1961
Yesterday / Act Naturally The Beatles 1965
You Really Got Me The Kinks 1964
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' The Righteous Brothers 1965
 

The Rock Era (1970-1980)

Song Performer Year
American Pie Don McLean 1971
Behind Closed Doors Charlie Rich 1973
Big Yellow Taxi Joni Mitchell 1970
Birdland Weather Report 1976
Bitches Brew Miles Davis 1969
Born to Run Bruce Springsteen 1975
Brown Eyed Girl Van Morrison 1967
Close to You The Carpenters 1970
Coal Miner's Daughter Loretta Lynn 1970
Dancing Queen Abba 1977
Everybody's Talkin' Nilsson 1969
Fire and Rain James Taylor 1970
Free Bird Lynyrd Skynyrd 1974
Go Your Own Way Fleetwood Mac 1977
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Elton John 1973
Grease soundtrack recording 1979
Heart of Gold Neil Young 1972
Hotel California The Eagles 1977
I Am Woman Helen Reddy 1972
I Can See Clearly Now Johnny Nash 1972
I Want You Back The Jackson 5 1969
I Will Survive Gloria Gayner 1979
If You Don't Know Me By Now Harold Melvin/Blue Notes 1972
Imagine John Lennon 1971
It's Too Late / I Feel the Earth Move Carole King 1971
Joy to the World Three Dog Night 1971
Killing Me Softly With His Song Roberta Flack 1973
Layla Derek & The Dominos 1972
Lean On Me Bill Withers 1972
Let's Stay Together Al Green 1972
Maggie May Rod Stewart 1971
Mama's Don't Let Your Babies… Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson 1978
Margaritaville Jimmy Buffett 1977
Midnight Train to Georgia Gladys Knight & The Pips 1973
No Charge Shirley Caesar 1975
Ohio Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 1970
Oye Como Va Santana 1971
Piano Man Billy Joel 1974
Ramblin' Man Allman Brothers Band 1973
Respect Yourself The Staple Singers 1971
Saturday in the Park Chicago 1972
She Works Hard for the Money Donna Summer 1983
Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin 1971
Stayin' Alive The Bee Gees 1978
Superstition Stevie Wonder 1972
Take Me Home Country Roads John Denver 1971
Take My Hand Precious Lord Thomas Dorsey/Marion Williams 1973
That's the Way( I Like It) K.C. & The Sunshine Band 1975
The Cat's in the Cradle Harry Chapin 1974
The Devil Went Down to Georgia Charlie Daniels Band 1979
The Gambler Kenny Rogers 1978
The Way We Were Barbra Streisand 1973
Theme From Shaft Isaac Hayes 1971
This Masquerade George Benson 1976
Time in a Bottle Jim Croce 1973
Uncle John's Band The Grateful Dead 1970
Walk This Way Aerosmith 1976
War Edwin Starr 1970
We Are Family Sister Sledge 1979
We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You Queen 1977
What's Going On Marvin Gaye 1971
When Will I Be Loved Linda Ronstadt 1975
Y.M.C.A. The Village People 1978
You Are the Sunshine of My Life Stevie Wonder 1973
You're So Vain Carly Simon 1973
 

The 'Eighties (1980-1990)

Song Performer Year
1999 Prince 1982
9 to 5 Dolly Parton 1980
All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight Hank Williams Jr. 1984
Another Brick in the Wall Pink Floyd 1980
Beat It Michael Jackson 1983
Bette Davis Eyes Kim Carnes 1981
Born in the U.S.A. Bruce Springsteen 1984
Burning Down the House Talking Heads 1983
Celebration Kool & The Gang 1980
Don't Worry Be Happy Bobby McFerrin 1988
El Shaddai Amy Grant 1982
Every Breath You Take The Police 1983
Faith George Michael 1987
Fight for Your Right (to Party) The Beastie Boys 1987
Fight the Power Public Enemy 1989
Flashdance Irene Cara 1983
Free Fallin' Tom Petty 1989
Girls Just Want to Have Fun Cyndi Lauper 1983
Graceland Paul Simon 1986
He Stopped Loving Her Today George Jones 1980
Heart of Glass Blondie 1979
Higher Love Steve Winwood 1986
I Love Rock 'n' Roll Joan Jett 1982
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For U2 1987
I'm So Excited The Pointer Sisters 1984
Jack and Diane John Cougar Mellencamp 1982
Jump Van Halen 1984
Love Shack The B-52's 1989
Mama He's Crazy The Judds 1984
Material Girl Madonna 1985
My Home's in Alabama Alabama 1980
Old Time Rock & Roll Bob Seger 1979
On the Road Again Willie Nelson 1980
Purple Rain Prince 1984
Rapper's Delight Sugarhill Gang 1979
Rockit Herbie Hancock 1983
Sweet Child o' Mine Guns N' Roses 1988
That's What Friends Are For Dionne Warwick & Friends 1986
The Message Grandmaster Flash 1982
The Wind Beneath My Wings Bette Midler 1989
Up Where We Belong Joe Cocker/Jennifer Warnes 1982
We Are the World USA for Africa 1985
We Got the Beat The Go-Go's 1982
What's Love Got to Do With It Tina Turner 1984

End of the Millenium (1990-2000)

Song Performer Year
Achy Breaky Heart Billy Ray Cyrus 1992
Addictive Love BeBe& CeCe Winans 1991
All I Wanna Do Sheryl Crow 1994
Bills, Bills, Bills Destiny's Child 1999
Candle in the Wind Elton John 1997
Change the World Eric Clapton 1996
Doo Wop (That Thing) Lauryn Hill 1998
Fast Car Tracy Chapman 1988
Friends in Low Places Garth Brooks 1990
I Believe I Can Fly R. Kelly 1997
I Hope You Dance Lee Ann Womack 2000
I Will Always Love You Whitney Houston 1992
Livin' La Vida Loca Ricky Martin 1999
Losing My Religion R.E.M. 1991
Men in Black Will Smith 1997
My Heart Will Go On Celine Dion 1998
No Scrubs TLC 1999
One Sweet Day Boyz II Men/Mariah Carey 1996
Please Remember Me` Tim McGraw 1999
Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana 1992
Smooth Santana/Rob Thomas 1999
Something to Talk About Bonnie Raitt 1991
This Kiss Faith Hill 1999
U Can't Touch This M.C. Hammer 1990
Wide Open Spaces Dixie Chicks 1998
You're Still the One Shania Twain 1998

 


This page updated on January 5, 2013 .