Going back in time and listening to music from a certain year or decade can give you an insight into the way of life during those times and let you experience the same emotions the musicians were feeling. We’re going to tell you our list of the 35 best songs from 1948, which can help you learn about the decade in a whole new way.
1. Nature Boy – Nat King Cole
First up on our list is Nature Boy by Nat King Cole, which was one of the biggest songs of 1948. This track is based on a group from Los Angeles, California who called themselves the “Nature Boys,” and it’s a beautiful song that tells the story as only someone like him can tell it with emotion and a little bit of mystery.
2. I Saw The Light – Hank Williams
Hank Williams is on our list next with the track I Saw The Light, which is a gospel song that would later become one of his signature tracks and also a standard in country gospel. It’s all about seeing the light, which means seeing God and having an awakening. Thought of as one of his best songs, the fact it’s lasted this long has led it to become one of the most covered tracks in country gospel.
3. I Can’t Be Satisfied – Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters makes our list with I Can’t Be Satisfied, which is one of his biggest hits and helped him reach commercial success. The song is about not being happy in life, which is something we all can relate to at one point or another. It’s often thought of as one of the best blues tracks of the decade.
4. Tomorrow Night – Lonnie Johnson
Tomorrow Night by Lonnie Johnson was a huge hit, and it went to number one on the Billboard R&B chart where it stayed for seven weeks. It also landed on the Billboard Pop chart and made it to number 19. This would later become his signature song and would become a standard in blues music.
5. Woody Woodpecker Song – Kay Kyser
Attention all fans of Woody Woodpecker, Kay Kyser makes the list with The Woody Woodpecker Song. This track went to number one on the Billboard chart for six weeks and spent over 15 weeks total on the chart. The version she released is one of the most famous versions of the song since it contains vocals by Gloria Wood and laughs by Harry Babbitt that continuously interrupt her.
6. It’s Too Soon To Know – The Orioles
The Orioles are on our list with the song It’s Too Soon To Know, which hit number one on the Billboard R&B charts and is thought of as one of the first tracks of rock and roll. They are one of the most well-known groups to use harmonies in their vocals, and this song is a shining example of that style.
7. Ruby My Dear – The Thelonious Monk Trio
The Thelonious Monk Trio had a hit with Ruby My Dear, and this is a bop jazz song that is very upbeat and will leave you wanting to dance the night away. They had bass, piano, drums, and everything you could ask for in a popular jazz track.
8. Barbados – Charlie Parker All Stars
The Charlie Parker All Stars make the list with the track Barbados, which is a jazz song that you’ll want to listen to over and over again because of how smooth and upbeat it is, and it’s going to give you energy like you never had before. It was one of the most popular tracks of the year, and it’s very easy to see why with the likes of them.
9. Chicken Shack Boogie – Amos Milburn
Next on the list is Chicken Shack Boogie by Amos Milburn, and this track is a boogie jump song that went to number one on the Billboard R&B chart. This track was just the first song he would have hit the charts, with a few others coming later on. When you hear this track, you’re just going to want to get up and boogie, which makes it very special and fun to listen to regardless of your age.
10. White Christmas – The Ravens
The Ravens covered White Christmas, and this song went to number nine on the charts, making it their second track within the top 10 in 1948. Everyone knows this song and likely knows the more popular Bing Crosby version, but the cover by The Ravens deserves a lot of credit since it contains vocal harmonies that you don’t get usually in this highly-regarded Christmas tune.
11. How High The Moon – Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald is on our list with How High The Moon, and this song is all about the feelings you get when you’re in love and how happy it makes you feel. This upbeat track has horns in it, and she does a lot of scatting in it, as she is known to do. This is one of those songs you want to listen to if you enjoy jazz because it’s very heavy on jazz elements.
12. You Call Everybody Darlin’ – Al Trace
Next on the list is You Call Everybody Darlin’’ by Al Trace, and this song went onto the Billboard charts at number nine but peaked at number one for six weeks. It spent more than 24 weeks on the charts, and when you hear this track, you’ll understand why. It’s one of the biggest songs of the year and still a track that is beloved today.
13. Long About Midnight – Roy Brown
Roy Brown had a hit with Long About Midnight, which is all about a romance that happens late at night. It’s a timeless song about feeling like you’re in this special moment with your lover and you lose track of time and nothing else matters. It has a mysterious element to it and it’s also very soulful and smooth.
14. Three O’Clock Blues – Lowell Fulson
Calling all fans of blues, Three O’Clock Blues by Lowell Fulson was one of the biggest hits of the year and genre. This track is a classic blues song, and it’s talking about a love that was lost and the heartbreak that comes from it. Most people can relate to the lyrics in this track, which are conveyed in the vocals and horns that shine all throughout.
15. Sweet Georgia Brown – Brother Bones & His Shadows
On our list next is Sweet Georgia Brown by Brother Bones & His Shadows, and this song is all about a woman that is from Georgia and how beautiful she is. If you enjoy swing music and jazz then you’ll love this track that has become a jazz standard. There is a lot of whistling in this song, which is one of its unique and stand-out elements.
16. All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) – Spike Jones
As a little kid, do you remember singing All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)? This song goes way back, and the original version of it by Spike Jones is one we have to put on the list. This track is all about a kid who loses their teeth, and they want to have them back as their Christmas gift. When it was released, the song went to number one on the Billboard Pop charts. It is still one of the most popular tracks around Christmas time today.
17. It’s Magic – Doris Day
Doris Day lands on the list with It’s Magic, and this track would become the theme song to The Doris Day Show in 1952. When this track was released in 1948, it went to number two on the Billboard Retail Record Sales chart and spent 21 weeks on it altogether. While there were other versions of this song released, her version remains the most successful and popular.
18. Run Joe – Louis Jordan
Next on the list is a jump blues song by Louis Jordan called Run Joe, which is a track about a man running from the law, and the song is encouraging him to continue running. This is an upbeat track that contains a lively saxophone performance along with his high-energy vocals. There is also a call-and-response element to the song in the chorus, so it’s one of those tracks crowds loved to sing then and still love to sing along to now.
19. Fine Brown Frame – Nellie Lutcher
Calling all fans of swing music, Fine Brown Frame by Nellie Lutcher contains swing along with blues to create one of the biggest songs of the year. In this track, a woman is being talked about who has curves, and it’s talking about how hot she is because of her looks. This song is a timeless classic and one that is still talked about today.
20. I Can’t Go On Without You – Bull Moose Jackson
Next up is Bull Moose Jackson with I Can’t Go On Without You, which is one of those timeless R&B songs that is about a guy who cannot imagine life without their former lover. There is a piano and saxophone in the track, so it has some jazz elements mixed in it, and the vocals in the song only add to the emotion and appeal.
21. Barnyard Boogie – Louis Jordan
Louis Jordan makes the list with Barnyard Boogie, and this song went to number two on the Billboard Race Records chart where it stayed for four weeks and peaked at 25 on the Billboard Race Records chart. You can see why this track is on our list since it spent a total of 13 weeks on the charts altogether.
22. Bouquet Of Roses – Eddy Arnold
Calling all fans of love songs, Bouquet of Roses by Eddy Arnold was one of the most popular tracks of 1948. This song is a classic love country track that tells the tale of a guy who is trying to win over his former girl. That story is as old as time, and trying to win back a former girlfriend or even boyfriend is something many people can relate to, which is one reason why it became so popular.
23. Buttons and Bows – Dinah Shore
Calling all fans of horns, Buttons And Bows by Dinah Shore features horns, and it’ll make you want to get up and dance, or at least move your feet. There is a very jazz vibe that you’ll get from this song, and it’s catchy while being light and playful at the same time.
24. Blues After Hours – Pee Wee Crayton
On the list next is Pee Wee Crayton with Blues After Hours, which is an instrumental blues song that features jazz and blues together to create a very unique and meaningful sound. When you look at classic blues tracks, this song is always on the list, and it has been covered by several artists over the years because of how bluesy it is and the guitar it has throughout.
25. Keep a Dollar In Your Pocket – Roy Milton
Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket by Roy Milton is on the list which features horns and is part of what’s called the jump blues style. This song is telling you to keep money in your pocket and save it for a rainy day instead of spending it, which is good financial advice and a very upbeat track to listen to.
26. I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover – Art Mooney
Up next is Art Mooney with I’m Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover, which hit the Billboard charts and peaked at number one for three weeks. This track is a very upbeat song, and it’ll leave you feeling hopeful and optimistic about your future. The UCLA band plays a version of this track when they win a game to give you an idea of how much this song gives off positive energy.
27. You Can’t Be True Dear – Ken Griffin
Ken Griffin is on the list with You Can’t Be True Dear, which first was an instrumental track until he recorded it again with Jerry Wayne who sang the lyrics to the song. Both of these versions of the track by Griffin became hits with the one featuring Wayne’s vocals hitting the Billboard Best Seller Chart, placing number one for seven weeks. The version that’s just an instrumental also went onto the Billboard Best Seller chart and stayed on the chart for 23 weeks, with it peaking at number two.
28. Beg Your Pardon – Francis Craig
We had to include Beg Your Pardon on our list by Francis Craig since this was one of the best songs of the year, and it went to number three on the Billboard chart and stayed there for 20 weeks. It also moved to the number four position on the chart later in the year and stayed in that position for 16 weeks!
29. On A Slow Boat To China – Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman is on our list with On A Slow Boat To China, which went to number 10 on the Billboard chart and stayed there for 12 weeks. This is one of the best songs of the year, and it was one of his biggest hits. What’s great is that we use the phrase “Slow boat to China,” so this track is going to make you laugh if you’ve ever heard that phrase or used that phrase yourself in the past.
30. Until – Tommy Dorsey
Next on the list is Tommy Dorsey with his hit Until, which is one of the biggest songs of the year. He was a very popular musician and had over 200 hits on the charts, although this track did not get quite as popular as other chart-topping hits he had. It’s a jazz and swing song that you’ll love if you enjoy his style, and you’ll want to hear it over and over again.
31. My Happiness – Jon & Sondra Steele
Jon & Sondra Steele released a version of My Happiness, and when they did, it became a popular song even though The Marlin Sisters had recorded a version of the track the year prior. This song landed at number three on the charts and is considered to be a pop standard that several artists have been eager to cover.
32. I Love You So Much It Hurts – Jimmy Wakely
I Love You So Much by Jimmy Wakely makes our list because his cover version landed on the Billboard Folk Best Seller chart where it stayed for 28 weeks and peaked at number one for four weeks. This song may have had other versions throughout the years, but it’s the version by him that reigns supreme and it was one of his biggest hits.
33. Maybe You’ll Be There – Gordon Jenkins
Gordon Jenkins is on the list with his version of Maybe You’ll Be There, and this song was the first that he had to land on the Billboard charts. It went to number three on the Billboard Best Seller chart and stayed on the chart for a total of 30 weeks. It’s one of the most well-known pop standards and has been covered by multiple artists through the years.
34. Ballerina – Buddy Clark
Up next is Buddy Clark with Ballerina, and this song hit number five on the charts, and it’s a fun track that you can dance to no matter where you are. The song has also gone by the name Dance, Ballerina, Dance, and it was one of the hottest tracks of 1948.
35. Little White Lies – Dick Haymes
Dick Haymes had a hit with Little White Lies, which hit the Billboard Magazine chart and peaked at number three while staying on the chart for a total of 23 weeks. It’s one of his most well-known songs and a track that deserves to be on our list because it’s a classic song that is still beloved today.
From the time she was little, Florence loved listening to music and quickly learned how music can make you happy and feel fulfilled. One of her favorite memories is being in the garage with her dad working on classic cars with the local rock station blaring in the background. Ever since Florence was 3, she loved grunge music and spent hours listening to bands such as Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Soul Asylum, and Soundgarden.
She also enjoys classic rock, modern rock, nu metal, alternative rock, and old 90’s R&B. Her love of music grew as she got older, and used music to help her get through tough times in her life. More often than not, you’ll see Florence with earbuds in while she’s writing, cooking, cleaning, and doing other tasks. She also loves to debate music with her friends such as which lead singer is the best vocalist, the most iconic guitar solos in music, and what songs are really the best of the decade.