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The 159 Greatest Songs of the 1950s

more songs about cars and girls

Before I started this effort, the handsome and talented writers Bill Holdship and Rob O’Connor advised that making a list of the best songs of the ’50s is particularly difficult because there was no predominant style of music during that decade. So, this tally was a bit of a fool’s errand, but a fool such as I duckwalked right into the ’50s sea of love anyway. 

Reflecting the diversity of the era, there are entries by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Muddy Waters, and Hank Williams.  Elvis Presley deservedly owned the era commercially and artistically, but one Charles Edward Anderson Berry could play a guitar just like a ringing the bell.

159.  Rebel Rouser, Duane Eddy (158)

158.  Bloodshot Eyes, Wynonie Harris (1951)

157.  That Is Rock & Roll, The Coasters (1959)

156.  Willie and the Hand Jive, Johnny Otis (1958)

155.  Story Untold, The Nutmegs (1955)

154.  C.C. Rider, Chuck Willis (1957)

153.  Say Man, Bo Diddley (1959)

152.  Sea of Love, Phil Phillips with the Twilights (1959)

151.  Not Fade Away, Buddy Holly (1957)

150.  For Your Precious Love, Jerry Butler and the Impressions (1958)

149.  Rock and Roll is Here to Stay, Danny and the Juniors (1958)

148.  Stood Up, Ricky Nelson (1958)

147.  Under Your Spell Again, Buck Owens (1959)

146.  Rave On, Buddy Holly (1958)

145.  Tears on My Pillow, Little Anthony & The Imperials (1958)

144.  C’mon Everybody, Eddie Cochran (1958)

143.  (Til) I Kissed You, The Everly Brothers (1959)

142.  Tequila, The Champs (1958)

141.  Silhouettes, The Rays (1957)

140.  The ABCs of Love, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (1956)

139.  3 O’Clock Blues, B.B. King (1951)

138.  Honey Hush, Joe Turner (1953)

137.  All Around the World, Little Willie John (1955)

136.  Too Much, Elvis Presley (1956)

135.  Memphis, Tennessee, Chuck Berry (1959)

134.  Pledging My Love, Johnny Ace (1956)

133.  Sweet Little Sixteen, Chuck Berry (1958)

132.  Life is So Peculiar, Louis Armstrong with Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five (1950)

131.  Let’s Have a Party, Wanda Jackson (1957)

130.  The Book of Love, The Monotones (1958)

129.  Oh Boy!, The Crickets (1957)

128.  Ain’t That a Shame, Fats Domino (1955)

127.  At the Hop, Danny and the Juniors (1957)

126.   (If You Cry) True Love, True Love, The Drifters (1959)

125.  Jump, Jive An’ Wail, Louis Prima (1956)

124.  Well…All Right, Buddy Holly (1958)

123.  Blue Moon of Kentucky, Elvis Presley (1954)

122.  Number 9 Train, Tarheel Slim (1959)

121.  Sleep Walk, Santo & Johnny (1959)

120.  Never Let Me Go, Johnny Ace (1954)

119.  Try Me, James Brown (1958)

118.  Bye Bye Love, The Everly Brothers

117.  Keep a Knockin’, Little Richard (1957)

116.  When I Fall in Love, Nat King Cole (1957)

115.  Your Cheatin’ Heart, Hank Williams (1953)

114.  Blue Monday, Fats Domino (1956)

113.  Rocket 88, Jackie Brenston (1951)

112.  Sixty Minute Man, The Dominoes (1951)

111.  Devil or Angel, The Clovers (1956)

110.  Slippin’ and Slidin’, Little Richard (1956)

109.  Come Softly to Me, The Fleetwoods (1959)

108.  I’m Moving On, Hank Snow (1950)

107.  One Mint Julep, The Clovers (1952)

106.  Chantilly Lace, The Big Bopper (1958)

105.  Do You Want to Dance, Bobby Freeman (1958)

104.  La Bamba, Ritchie Valens (1958)

103.  Dance with Me, The Drifters (1959)

102.  Love Potion No. 9, The Clovers (1959)

101.  Walkin’ After Midnight, Patsy Cline (1957)

100.  Good Golly, Miss Molly, Little Richard (1958)

99.  I Wonder Why, Dion and the Belmonts

98.  There Goes My Baby, The Drifters (1959)

97.  Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu, Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns

96.  Young Blood, The Coasters (1957)

95.  Need Your Love So Bad, Little Willie John (1956)

94.  Back in the U.S.A., Chuck Berry (1959)

93.  At My Front Door, El Dorados (1955)

92.  Why Don’t You Love Me, Hank Williams (1950)

91.  Peggy Sue, Buddy Holly (1957)

90.  Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley (1955)

89.  Speedo, The Cadillacs (1955)

88.  Heartaches by the Number, Ray Price (1959)

87.  Earth Angel, Penguins (1954)

86.  Cry, Johnny Ray (1951)

85.  How High the Moon, Les Paul and Mary Ford (1951)

84.  Stranded in the Jungle, The Cadets (1956)

83.  Summertime Blues, Eddie Cochran (1958)

82.  I Want You, I Need You, I Love You, Elvis Presley (1956)

81.  Little Darlin’, The Diamonds (1957)

80.  Sh-Boom, The Chords (1954)

79.  Jambalaya (On the Bayou), Hank Williams (1952)

78.  I Hear You Knocking, Smiley Lewis (1955)

77.  Blueberry Hill, Fats Domino (1956)

76.  There Stands the Glass, Webb Pierce (1953)

75.  Think, The “5” Royales (1957)

74.  Come Go with Me, The Del-Vikings (1957)

73.  The Great Pretender, The Platters (1955)

72.  Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going on, Jerry Lee Lewis (1957)

71.  Coasters, Charlie Brown (1959)

70.  Dedicated to The One I Love, The Shirelles (1959)

69.  Let the Good Times Roll, Shirley and Lee (1956)

68.  (Now and Then There’s A Fool) Such As I, Elvis Presley (1959)

67.  Stagger Lee, Lloyd Price (1958)

66.  Wake Up, Little Susie, The Everly Brothers (1957)

65.  All Shook Up, Elvis Presley (1957)

64.  White Lightning, George Jones (1959)

63.  You Send Me, Sam Cooke (1957)

62.  Rock and Roll Music, Chuck Berry (1957)

61.  Maybe, The Chantels (1958)

60.  Shake, Rattle, and Roll, Big Joe Turner (1954)

59.  Only You (And You Alone), The Platters (1955)

58.  Train Kept A-Rollin’, Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio (1956)

57.  Since I Don’t Have You, The Skyliners (1959)

56.  Be-Bop-A-Lula, Gene Vincent and His Blue Cats (1956)

55.  Brand New Cadillac, Vince Taylor (1959)

54.  School Day, Chuck Berry (1957)

53.  Fools Fall in Love, The Drifters (1957)

52.  Cry Me a River, Julie London (1955)

51.  In the Still of the Nite, The Five Satins (1956)

50.  Kansas City, Wilbert Harrison (1959)

49.  Down in the Alley, The Clovers (1957)

48.  Got My Mojo Working, Muddy Waters (1956)

47.  Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash (1955)

46.  I Got a Woman, Ray Charles (1954)

45.  Carol, Chuck Berry (1958)

44.  If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time, Lefty Frizzell (1950)

43.  All I Have to Do is Dream, The Everly Brothers (1958)

42.  Yakety Yak, Coasters (1958)

41.  Money (That’s What I Want), Barrett Strong (1959)

40.  Lonely Avenue, Ray Charles (1956)

39.  I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash (1956)

38.  I Put a Spell on You, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1956)

37.  My Blue Heaven, Fats Domino (1956)

36.  Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear, Elvis Presley (1957)

35.  Blue Suede Shoes, Carl Perkins (1956)

34.  That’ll Be the Day, The Crickets (1957)

33.  Only Sixteen, Sam Cooke (1959)

32.  Take Five, Dave Brubeck (1959)

31.  I Only Have Eyes for You, The Flamingos (1959)

30.  Fever, Little Willie John (1956)

29.  Why Do Falls Fall in Love, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (1956)

28.  (We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley and the Comets (1954)

27.  Love Is Strange, Mickey and Sylvia (1956)

26.  Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Lloyd Price (1952)

25.  A Lover’s Question, Clyde McPhatter (1958)

24.  I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Frank Sinatra (1956)

23.  Dream Lover, Bobby Darin (1959)

22.  Rumble, Link Wray and His Ray Men (1958)

21.  Shout, The Isley Brothers (1959)

20.  A Teenager in Love, Dion and the Belmonts (1959)

19.  Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, The Platters (1958)

18.  Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley (1957)

17.  Mack the Knife, Bobby Darin (1959)

16.  Maybellene, Chuck Berry (1955)

15.  Good Rockin’ Tonight, Elvis Presley (1954)

14.  I’m Walkin’, Fats Domino (1957)

13.  Mystery Train, Elvis Presley (1954)

12.  Tutti-Frutti, Little Richard (1955)

11.  Who Do You Love, Bo Diddley (1956)

10.  Hound Dog, Elvis Presley (1956)

9.  Dust My Blues, Elmore James (1955)

8.  Long Tall Sally, Little Richard (1956)

7.  What I’d Say, Ray Charles (1959)

6.  Great Balls of Fire, Jerry Lee Lewis (1957)

5.  That’s Alright Mama, Elvis Presley (1954)

4.  Don’t Be Cruel, Elvis Presley (1956)

3.  Roll over Beethoven, Chuck Berry (1956)

2.  Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis Presley (1956)

1.  Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry (1958)

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