Cover image for Popular songs of the twentieth century : a charted history
Popular songs of the twentieth century : a charted history
Gardner, Edward Foote, 1937-
First edition.
Physical Description:
volumes <1 > ; 28 cm
v. 1. Chart detail & encyclopedia, 1900-1949.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML128.S3 G3 2000 V.1 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music

On Order



This valuable reference work's principle feature is 600 monthly popularity charts that document January 1900 through December 1949. Gardner then displays these charts in a spreadsheet format so the reader can see how each song rose and fell during its period of popularity and how it compared with the other competing songs of its day. The remaining section contains a massive and comprehensive encyclopedia of all charted songs, including chart highlights, writers, shows, movies, records, and principal artists. An easy-to-read alphabetical index of song titles eliminates confusion from duplicated song titles or when a song re-charted as a revival or remake. Gardner's research reveals that music periodicals of the day tell a very different story from what has been, until now, recorded history. For example, contrary to popular belief, some enduring standards such as "St Louis Blues" and "Star Dust" never became big chart "hits," and some songs, enormously popular in their time, receive only scant mention in previously issued music history books and encyclopedias. Section 1: Alphabetical Index of Charted SongsSection 2: Monthly Top-20 Song ChartsSection 3: Semi-Monthly Top-20 Songs SpreadsheetsSection 4: Encyclopedia of Charted Songs

Author Notes

Edward F. Gardner lives in Pennsylvania and is a mathematician by trade and an avid musicologist. He is a lecturere on music and musical and social trends of the twentieth century. He has collected more tehan 40 000 popular, country & western, and rhythm & blues recordings from every era.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Gardner's compilation resembles Joel Whitburn's maligned Pop Memories (1986), but with the crucial difference that Whitburn seeks to chart the popularity of recordings, while Gardner tries to ascertain a song's popularity regardless of its means of transmission (recordings, sheet music, vaudeville, films, etc.). Both invent Billboard-like charts but use questionable data. Gardner (described on the title page as "Mathematician, Musicologist" with no supporting credentials) falls into many of the same traps as Whitburn by failing to ask critical questions and neglecting primary resources. Gardner seems to take all data at face value, when much is dubious (not necessarily useless, but needing a critical eye). For example, Art Landry called his 1923 "Dreamy Melody" on the tiny Gennett label a million seller, when it was not; Gardner gives "Dreamy Melody" a chart position of number four, but it could not have been that well known. Similarly, Gardner's preface repeats the old saw that C harles K. Harris's "After the Ball" was a big hit in the last decade of the 19th century, but contemporary evidence indicates it was a minor hit, and only the composer's campaign afterward made people aware of it. On the other hand, "The Holy City," probably Victor's best-selling record for three or four years beginning in 1900, is not to be found. The index contains inaccuracies and lacks cross-references, but other indexes (e.g., composer/lyricist) might have made the book more useful. A problematic book that should be used with caution. J. Farrington Eastman School of Music