Popular Songs of 1947

1. Heartaches – Ted Weems
2. Near You – Francis Craig
3. Anniversary Song – Al Jolson
4. Peg O’ My Heart – The Harmonicats
5. Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) – Tex Williams
6. Managua, Nicaragua – Freddy Martin
7. The Old Lamp-Lighter – Sammy Kaye
8. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons – The King Cole Trio
9. Open The Door, Richard! – Count Basie
10. Ballerina – Vaughn Monroe
11. Mam’selle – Art Lund
12. When You Were Sweet Sixteen – Perry Como
13. Linda – Buddy Clark & The Ray Noble Orchestra
14. Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba (My Bambino Go To Sleep) – Perry Como
15. Always – Frank Sinatra
16. Too Fat Polka – Arthur Godfrey
17. Make Believe – Jo Stafford
18. I’ve Got A Crush On You – Frank Sinatra
19. Anything You Can Do – Bing Crosby & Dick Haymes with The Andrews Sisters
20. Civilization -Andrews Sisters with Danny Kaye
21. Across The Alley From The Alamo – The Mills Brothers
22. Near You – Larry Green
23. Anniversary Song – Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra
24. Singing The Blues – Frankie Laine
25. Peg O’ My Heart – Buddy Clark
26. Fool That I Am – Georgia Gibbs
27. The Whiffenpoof Song – Bing Crosby
28. Huggin’ And Chalkin’ – Hoagy Carmichael
29. Sincerely Yours – The Ink Spots
30. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra
31. But Beautiful – Frankie Laine
32. Mam’selle – Dick Haymes
33. You Do – Bing Crosby
34. How Are Things In Glocca Morra – Bing Crosby
35. Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens – Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five
36. I Wish I Didn’t Love You So – Dick Haymes
37. Peg O’ My Heart – Art Lund
38. Ivy – Jo Stafford
39. Near You – The Andrews Sisters
40. That’s My Desire – Sammy Kaye

You may notice that the list above doesn’t quite agree with “Top 40” or other lists you’ve seen; that’s because it takes more facts into consideration, along with a few intangibles. For example, Perry Como’s When You Were Sweet 16 scores higher on this list than Chi-Baba Chi-Baba — yet the latter reached #1 and spent more time on the Top 40 charts in 1947 (it was a double-sided hit). Time has been good to Sweet 16, but for some reason Chi-Baba hasn’t had sustained airplay over the decades since 1950. As trends change, as old standards are slotted into new movie soundtracks, this list can and will change with those trends. Each of these annual charts are re-evaluated every 6-8 months. Had this list been prepared in the mid 1960s, for example, The Anniversary Song would probably be on top — even though Near You is one of the all-time #1 songs, having spent 16 weeks at the top spot.

Speaking of The Anniversary Song, this is one of the all-time top songs when you account for all the competing recordings. Although it never reached #1, it stands to reason that if not for all the competition in February and March of 1947, it certainly would have. Or perhaps all the competing versions propelled one another higher? We can only theorize. Anyway, here they are:

  • Al Jolson – Decca – 14 weeks on the chart, peaking at #2.
  • Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra – RCA Victor – 8 weeks on the chart, peaking at #3.
  • Guy Lombardo – Decca – 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at #4.
  • Dinah Shore – Columbia – 8 weeks on the chart, peaking at #4.
  • Andy Russell – Capitol – 2 weeks on the chart, peaking at #5.
  • Other minor versions were released in 1947, now lost to history.

Oddly enough, the most requested version on “music of your life” radio format over the past 30 years has been Dinah’s. Similarly, That’s My Desire was a big hit for Sammy Kaye (peaking at #3) and a less sizable hit for Frankie Laine (#7, only a few weeks on the charts). But over the years the song became synonymous with Laine, and Kaye’s version is little remembered.

Linda is another interesting song, covered by many through the years. Performed by Buddy Clark, the song was written by Jack Lawrence, who is notable for having penned Frank Sinatra’s first monster hit, All or Nothing at All, Rosemary Clooney’s signature song Tenderly, and the lyric re-work that enabled Bobby Darin to take Mack the Knife to the top of the charts. Also a Broadway producer, Lawrence is one of the unsung heroes of American Pop, even though his songs are frequently sung. Perhaps “underappreciated” is more appropriate than “unsung.” Whatever.

Back to Linda. Lawrence’s attorney was a wealthy New Yorker named Lee Eastman, who also happened to be one of the Eastman Chemical heirs (that was Kodak). Eastman told Lawrence that there was a popular song featuring his wife’s name (Louise) and a Johnny Mercer song for his eldest daughter (Laura), but that his youngest daughter — Linda — had no song to claim. Would Lawrence pen one for Linda? He did, and the shrewd Eastman told Lawrence that a start up company would record the song in exchange for publishing rights. Eastman neglected to mention that he was the backer (minor detail) and thus finagled the copyright away from Lawrence. Ray Noble then produced an excellent recording with a Buddy Clark vocal, and the song rocketed to the top of Your Hit Parade. And the rest was history. Well, not quite. Jack Lawrence found a new attorney. Jan & Dean had a rather pleasant hit in the early 1960s with Linda. And what of Miss Eastman? She grew up to become a photographer, and married a left-handed bass player named Paul McCartney.

A quick word about the top of this chart. 1947 was one of the last years that saw the influence of the “big band” in pop music. They would hold on for a few more, but the vocalist was usually firmly ensconced at the top of the charts. Among the first 15 recordings on the chart above, only Count Basie was an act totally in the big band mode — although Basie could’ve charted that record with any cast of musicians he might choose; Basie’s orchestra was the sound he wanted, which is the only reason he maintained a big band act. The other 14 top songs were all known now by the vocalist, not the bandleader.

As for the songs themselves and their place in history, you could probably shuffle those 15 songs in any order you’d like, and it would still make sense. A case could be made for any one of them…1947 is one of the greatest hit producing years in the history of American popular song.

— Rick Bolger