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Music of the 1940’s – The Essential List



There were some major setbacks for the music industry in the 1940s.  Shellac, the material used for 78 RPMs before vinyl, was needed for World War II military purposes.  Also, there were two strikes by the musician’s union during the ‘40s that halted the production of new records.  The big band era gave way to bebop, while Bob Wills and Louis Jordan taught white and black audiences how to dance and laugh simultaneously.  Meanwhile, with songs like “Fat Gal” and  “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed,” Merle Travis showed an appreciation for BBWs that popular music wouldn’t hear again until Sir Mix-a-Lot gave the world “Baby Got Back.”  Oh my God, Merle, look at her butt.


Body and Soul, Billie Holiday

Do Re Mi, Woody Guthrie

Down the Road A Piece, Will Bradley Trio

Five O’ Clock Whistle, Ella Fitzgerald

In the Mood, Glenn Miller

New San Antonio Rose, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

Only Forever, Bing Crosby

Pipeliner Blues, Moon Mullican

Pretty Boy Floyd, Woody Guthrie

You Are My Sunshine, Jimmie Davis

When You Wish Upon a Star, Cliff Edwards



Blues in the Night, The Benny Goodman Sextet ft. Peggy Lee

The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (Of Company B), The Andrew Sisters

Chattanooga Choo Choo, The Glenn Miller Orchestra ft. Tex Beneke & The Modernaires

Cherokee Maiden, Bob Wills and His Texas Playbos

Gloomy Sunday, Billie Holiday

God Bless the Child, Billie Holiday

Key to the Highway, Big Bill Broonzy

Oh Look At Me Now, Tommy Dorsey/Frank Sinatra

Take Me Back to Tulsa, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

Take the ‘A’ Train, Duke Ellington & His Orchestra

Walking the Floor Over You, Ernest Tubb

Why Don’t You Do Right?, Lil Green & Her Trio




Ain’t Misbehavin’, Fats Waller & His Rhythm

Born to Lose, Ted Daffan’s Texans

Cow Cow Boogie, Freddie Slack/Ella Mae Morse

Five Guys Named Moe, Louis Jordan

Jingle Jangle Jingle, Gene Autry

Travelin’ Light, Billie Holiday

White Christmas, Bing Crosby



Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer, Song Spinners

Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You, Nat King Cole Quartet

Paper Doll, The Mills Brothers

Pistol Packin’ Mama, Al Dexter and His Troopers



Born to Lose, Ted Daffan’s Texans

Down by the Riverside, Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby, Louis Jordan

Share Cropper Blues, Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra

She Broke My Heart in Three Places, The Hoosier Hotshots

Swing on a Star, Bing Crosby

Till Then, The Mills Brothers

Where Did You Sleep Last Night, Leadbelly



Be-Baba-Leba, Helen Humes & The Bill Doggett Octet

Caldonia, Louis Jordan

Don’t Fence Me In, Gene Autry

(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66, The King Cole Trio

The Honeydripper, Joe Liggins

La Vie en rose, Edith Piaf

Lover Man (Where Can You Be?), Billie Holiday

Oklahoma Hills, Jack Guthrie

On the Atchison, Topeka, and The Sante Fe, Johnny Mercer

Pacific Coast Blues, Dinah Washington & Lucky Thompson’s All-Stars



Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens, Louis Jordan

Choo Choo Ch’Boogie, Louis Jordan

The Christmas Song,  Nat King Cole Trio

Divorce Me C.O.D, Merle Travis

The House of Blue Lights, Freddie Slack & His Rhythm ft. Ella Mae Morse

Jole Blon, Harry Choates

Ko-Ko, Charlie Parker’s Ri Bop Boys

Let the Good Times Roll, Louis Jordan

Lonesome Hearted Blues, Moon Mullican’s Showboys

Nuages, Django Reinhardt & Stephanie Grappelli

Roly Poly, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

Skylark, Maxine Sullivan

Stay A Little Longer, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys



Blue Moon of Kentucky, Bill Monroe

Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee, Stick McGhee

Fat Gal, Merle Travis

Good Rocking Tonight, Roy Brown

How High the Moon, Ella Fitzgerald & The Daydreamers

I Cover the Waterfront, Billie Holiday

I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky, Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys

Jack, You’re Dead, Louis Jordan

Move It On Over, Hank Williams

Fat Girl, Merle Travis

Nobody Loves Me, Memphis Slim

Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette, Tex Williams & His Western Caravan

So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed, Merle Travis

Stormy Monday, T-Bone Walker

Sugar Moon, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie

Tired, Pearl Bailey

Write Me a Letter, The Ravens



All She Wants to Do is Rock, Wynonie Harris

Bewildered, Amos Milburn

Boogie Chillen, John Lee Hooker

Chicken Shack Boogie, Amos Milburn

Cocaine Blues, Roy Hogsed

Honky Tonkin’, Hank Williams

I Can’t Be Satisfied, Muddy Waters

I Saw the Light, Hank Williams

Tomorrow Night, Lonnie Johnson

Up Above My Head, I Hear Music in the Air, Sister Rosetta Tharpe



Beans and Cornbread, Louis Jordan

Blues Stay Away from Me, Delmore Brothers

The Fat Man, Fats Domino

Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Hank Williams

Little Maggie, The Stanley Brothers

Lost Highway, Hank Williams

Mule Train, Frankie Laine

Rock Awhile, Goree Carter

Rock This Joint, Jimmy Preston

Saturday Night Fish Fry, Louis Jordan

Trouble Blues, Charles Brown

Venus De Milo, Miles Davis & His Orchestra

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve, Orioles

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