A description of the site


revised 30 November 2020 (but still needs to be updated and rewritten):


Songbook is primarily focused on selected American popular songs of the period 1890-1970s, with an emphasis (especially pre-1950) on standards, as well as on the composers and lyricists who created the songs, and notable performers of them. A major portion of the site is the series of decade and year pages, presently covering the period 1890 to 1976, each featuring songs first published in the year in consideration.

There are also feature pages on selected composers and performers, including Irving Berlin (many pages), Judy Garland (several pages), Harold Arlen, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, The Rhythm Boys, Bing Crosby, The Boswell Sisters, The Albertina Rasch Dancers, Walter Donaldson, Fred and Adele Astaire, Johnny Marks, Michael Feinstein, songwriting team Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, and a special feature on the return of African-American musical theater to Broadway in the 1920s. The feature pages have not followed a set pattern; some may represent only a small segment of an artist’s work, to be amended, when time allows, by additional pages covering other segments.

There are pages on a number of Hollywood musical films, mostly from the period 1929-1947, with emphasis upon selected songs, many of which became standards, introduced or popularized in them:


22 March 2011 addendum:

  • Content: Most posts and pages are focused upon recordings of selected standards and hits published 1891-1959 originating within the realms of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, ballroom, dance hall, studio, radio, or film, and the artists who created and made the songs standards or well-remembered hits.
  • Feature pages generally contain multiple videos (up to 20, but typically fewer), descriptive text, and are enhanced by images. The images used consist largely of photos and illustrations of recording artists and songwriters, sheet music covers, single labels and sleeve covers, album sleeve covers, and posters for musicals and films.
  • All selections of materials and the order and arrangement of page and post content are by doc, based on his unerring evaluations of the whispers of thousands in his ears.
  • Non-original text is cited, often with a link to the source.
  • The site has always been and continues to be non-commercial, and non-funded.


31 January 2014 addendum:

Songs found in what I refer to above as, for lack of a more precise short description, “annual survey pages” are presented chronologically by decade  for the period 1890-1910, piecemeal for the years 1911-1916, and with collective annual pages from 1917-1949. Beginning with 1929, each featured song in the annual pages has its own page. The 1950s is broken into two five-year periods. I’ve selected far fewer standards per year from the first half of the ’50s than I’ve done for any year of the previous three and a half decades. However, the few standards are supplemented with three pages of top Billboard “year-end” chart singles for the years 1950-1952. These hit parade pages have been rather popular, but I don’t know if I’ll do any more top twenty pages for the 1950s.

My index for the latter half of the 1950s is deficient, and will probably be expanded and reorganized eventually. The period is challenging to survey due to the confluence of many often disparate styles under the broad banner of popular music. Popular music of the 1960s, particularly that which still has currency in 2013, is even more difficult to encapsulate than that of the ’50s. I’ve approached the 1960s primarily by focusing on selected individual songwriters and songwriting teams, and selected performing artists.


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