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31 Best Songs From 1938

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If you’ve been wondering what was popular in music during the 30s, continue reading as we tell you about the 31 best songs from 1938 that you might want to add to your music collection! 

1. A-Tisket, A-Tasket – Ella Fitzgerald 

A-Tisket, A-Tasket

Coming in first on our list is Ella Fitzgerald with the recording of A-Tisket, A Tasket, which was based on the nursery rhyme. This song made it to number one on Your Hit Parade and also was number one on the Record Buying Guide chart and Billboard Sheet Music.

The version she released was more jazz, and today, is one of the jazz standards. Her recording with Chick Webb turned out to be her big break and is one of the most successful and popular versions of the song. 

2. Nice Work If You Can Get It – Fred Astaire 

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Fred Astaire is on the list with Nice Work If You Can Get It, which is a song that has become a jazz standard and started out as a track that The Gershwin Brothers wrote for a movie called A Damsel In Distress. Astaire’s version was featured in this movie and The Stafford Sisters provided the backing vocals, and his version was one of the most well-known, although several artists released their renditions of the song by the end of 1938. 

3. Thanks For The Memory – Bob Hope And Shirley Ross 

Thanks For The Memory

Bob Hope and Shirley Ross are next with Thanks For The Memory, which ended up winning Best Original Song during the Academy Awards since it was recorded and put into the movie The Big Broadcast Of 1938. It was an incredibly popular track that soon would become his signature song, and he would change the lyrics periodically for different situations and events. 

4. Cry, Baby, Cry – Larry Clinton & His Orchestra 

Larry Clinton and vocalist Bea Wain had a hit song when they released Cry, Baby, Cry and this would be one of their most well-known tracks to date. It was a hit right from the beginning, and since he could play the trombone, clarinet, and trumpet, he was one of the major jazz stars of this decade. 

5. Love Walked In – Kenny Baker 

1938 HITS ARCHIVE: Love Walked in - Kenny Baker

Next up is a song featured in the movie The Goldwyn Follies called Love Walked In, which was famously recorded by Kenny Baker. He sang this track for the film, although many other artists released their versions of the song that became hits too, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Kaye. Baker’s original track stands out and remains one of the beloved and iconic recordings of this song. 

6. Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen – Louis Armstrong 

Louis Armstrong "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen" on The Ed Sullivan Show

A spiritual song called Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen by Louis Armstrong was a major success in 1938. This track is specifically an African-American song that started during slavery and has been recorded by several musicians over the years, with the one Armstrong released being one of the most well-known and famous versions. It became a popular and iconic track and parts of this song were in movies and television shows such as Space Cats, Young Man With A Horn, and The Lion King. 

7. Jeepers Creepers – Al Donahue & His Orchestra 

A song that landed number one on the Billboard chart we wanted to mention was Jeepers Creepers, which was by Al Donahue & His Orchestra. This song was a very big deal and while other versions of the track were released, this one is one of the most famous and is a blend of both pop and jazz. 

8. Two Sleepy People – Fats Waller 

Two Sleepy People by Fats Waller was a huge hit in 1938, and it was written for a follow-up movie to The Big Broadcast Of 1938. In that film, there is a song called Thanks For The Memory, so Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmicheal were tasked with coming up with a new track similar to that that would fit into the follow-up movie. It is all about a couple who is tired and wants to sleep, but they love each other so much they stay up all night long since they don’t want to have to go their separate ways to go to sleep.

9. Any Old Time – Artie Shaw 

Any Old Time (Remastered)

Any Old Time featured Billie Holiday singing along with Artie Shaw, and this song was a standout jazz and foxtrot hit that to this day remains popular. She only had recorded one record with him, and the B-side of this record was Back Bay Shuffle.

The track featured saxophones, drums, clarinet, guitar, piano, trumpets, and trombones, which made it the perfect song to illustrate jazz. In 2001, it was put into the Grammy Hall of Fame and has continued to be one of the best examples of what Shaw and Holiday could do as musicians. 

10. Lula Mae – Tampa Red 

Tampa Red released the song Lula Mae, and while this track didn’t top the charts, it showed off his skills as a blues musician. He originated from Chicago and was known for having a slide guitar with a single string, influencing other blues musicians such as Muddy Waters. In 30 years, he had multiple hits and popular songs, with this being one of the tracks he recorded during the earlier part of his career.

11. So Help Me – Mildred Bailey 

So Help Me (Remastered)

Next is Mildred Bailey with the hit So Help Me, and she was such a great swing musician that her nickname was Mrs. Swing. She was a competitor of Billie Holiday as she had that same jazz feel in her music. She was Native American, although she was often talked about as being the first white artist to really have the skills of a jazz singer. When you listen to this track, you can really see her skills and talents as a jazz singer. 

12. I’m Gonna Lock My Heart – Billie Holiday 

Billie Holiday - I'm Gonna Lock My Heart

We just spoke of her rival, and now we’re going to talk about Billie Holiday. She was such a big deal in the 30s and 40s, and she recorded I’m Gonna Lock My Heart, which gives you the jazz feel all through your bones. She was the first one to record this song, which made it to the Billboard Pop chart and peaked at number two. 

13. Alexander’s Ragtime Band – The Boswell Sisters 

Alexander's Ragtime Band - The Boswell Sisters (1934)

The Boswell Sisters had a hit with Alexander’s Ragtime Band, which was one of the best covers of this song to be recorded. Irving Berlin wrote the track in 1911, and it’s a track that is a follow-up to Alexander And His Clarinet, which he released the year before. The Boswell Sisters had such wonderful harmonies in this song that it stood out from all of the other renditions of the track that had been recorded before that and after theirs. 

14. I Double Dare You – Russ Morgan 

On our list next is Russ Morgan with the song I Double Dare You, which was a cover of the track released the year before by Woody Herman And His Orchestra. The version Morgan recorded featured Bernice Parks on vocals, and it’s a classic example of jazz music. Today, it remains one of the top three covers of the song and is beloved by fans of Morgan and Parks. 

15. At Long Last Love – Ozzie Nelson

Ozzie Nelson makes the list with the tune At Long Last Love, which was written by Cole Porter. There are more than 100 versions of the song, including one by Frank Sinatra. Nelson has one of the best covers because his orchestra really allowed you to feel the emotion in the track.

16. Yearning (Just For You) – Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra 

Yearning (Just for You) (feat. Jack Leonard & Chorus)

Yearning (Just For You) by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra is on our list. This song was written by Joe Burke and Benny Davis. It’s one of Doresey’s biggest songs, and while other artists recorded this track before and after, it remains one of the most popular versions of the song. 

17. Tutti Frutti – Slim & Slam 

Slim & Slam released the track Tutti Frutti, which was one of the hottest jazz songs of the year. You can hear just how unique Slim was in this track because he was known for scatting and also utilized a lot of jazz slang in his music. You’ve probably heard Little Richard’s song of the same name, and it was inspired in a way by this particular track.

18. I Hadn’t Anyone Till You – Ray Noble & His Orchestra  Feat. Tony Martin 

I Hadn't Anyone Till You

Ray Noble featuring Tony Martin on vocals made the list with I Hadn’t Anyone Till You, which is known as one of the best jazz standards out there. This means it has been covered repeatedly over the years. When he released the song, it went onto the Billboard charts where it hit number four and stayed on the charts for more than 12 weeks! 

19. My Reverie – Larry Clinton & Bea Wain

Coming in at number one on the Billboard charts for over eight weeks is My Reverie by Larry Clinton. This song stayed on the charts for over 19 weeks and sold more than 100,000 copies. The track was based on the piano composition by Claude Debussy of the same name. The movie One Hour Photo, which stars Robin Williams, uses the version of Larry Clinton and Bea Wain in the movie.

20. Always And Always – Larry Clinton 

Larry Clinton is on the list again because he scored a hit when he recorded the song Always And Always. This is one of the top jazz and pop tracks of 1938, and when you hear it, you’re instantly taken back in time and feel like you’re reliving one of the best eras in music. 

21. Begin The Beguine – Artie Shaw 

One of Artie Shaw’s biggest hits was Begin The Beguine, which went onto the Billboard charts and peaked at number three. It would be one of the best songs of the year, and it helped him get his big break as a musician. When you look at the swing era, this is right up there at the top. 

22. Love Walked In – Jan Garber And His Orchestra 

Jan Garber Vocal Russ Brown Love Walked In

Jan Garber And His Orchestra had a smash hit with Love Walked In, which was made popular in the movie Goldwyn Follies. When he recorded this song, it went onto the Billboard charts where it stayed for more than eight weeks and peaked at number seven. This track is definitely one to check out if you’re not familiar with him or his talented orchestra. 

23. Let Me Whisper I Love You – Bing Crosby 

Bing Crosby - Let Me Whisper I Love You - 22.04.1938

Let Me Whisper I Love You by Bing Crosby makes the list, which was one of the most romantic and beautiful songs of the year. He was always good at singing sweet and lovely tunes, and this is one example of this. While it wasn’t his biggest hit ever, it’s still a track that fans of his love and enjoy to this day. 

24. Where In The World – Hal Kemp & His Orchestra 

Hal Kemp And His Orchestra - Where In The World

Next was the hit song Where In The World by Hal Kemp & His Orchestra. It quickly became one of the best tracks of the year, and it showed off the talents of his orchestra. It’s one of those jazz songs that you can dance to all night long. 

25. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart – Duke Ellington 

I Let a Song Go out of My Heart

Duke Ellington makes the list with the hit track I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart. The track ended up on the Billboard charts peaking at number one. Other artists recorded the song later in the year, including one by Benny Goodman, but Ellington’s is considered the best out of them all. You can hear his version in Melinda And Melinda from 2004

26. You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby – Bing Crosby 

You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby

The smooth crooner himself, Bing Crosby, continues to be a huge influence in music, and You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby was one of his biggest hits of the decade. This song was written for the movie Hard To Get, although Dick Powell sang that version. When Crosby released his rendition, featuring Bob Crosby And His Orchestra, it was also incredibly popular and quickly became the best-selling version of the track. 

27. the Wabash Cannonball – Roy Acuff 

Roy Acuff - The Wabash Cannonball (Live)

The Wabash Cannonball by Roy Acuff makes the list because this song is one of the most popular and famous folk tracks of the 30s when the Great Depression happened. While he did not record the track first since it is credited to The Carter Family, his version ended up selling over 10 million copies and less than 40 singles have ever achieved that feat. 

28. I Don’t Do Things Like That – Tommy Trinder 

Tommy Trinder - I Don't Do Things Like That

Tommy Trinder had a hit with I Don’t Do Things Like That, which is often rated as one of his best songs. This track is funny just as he was, and he always had a way of adding humor to his songs while conveying a certain theme. He’s one of the more unique and quirky musicians of the decade. 

29. My Own – Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra 

Next up is Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra with the tune My Own, which was one of the best songs of the year. While he had a lot of hits in his career, when you listen to this, it’s definitely special and stands out among other tracks because of its gentle and loving lyrics

30. Jumping At The Woodside – Count Basie 

1938 HITS ARCHIVE: Jumpin’ At The Woodside - Count Basie

Jumping At The Woodside by Count Basie is on our list, which went onto the Billboard charts and stayed there for four weeks, peaking at number 11. This song is now a jazz standard and has been recorded by several artists over the years. It is also thought of as one of his signature tracks.

31. Angels With Dirty Faces – Cab Calloway 

Angels With Dirty Faces

Cab Calloway released Angels With Dirty Faces, which was one of the top jazz songs of the year. It was on the B-side of the record, and when you listen to this track, you’re immediately taken back in time when you hear the instruments and can see why he was one of the biggest names in big band and jazz during that time.

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