Below you’ll find our collection of the best songs from 1936. Featuring legendary artists such as Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Billie Holiday, these classic tunes defined an era of beautiful and innocent music. Enjoy!
“Pennies From Heaven” By Bing Crosby
“Pennies From Heaven” by Bing Crosby is a captivating and hopeful song that became extremely popular in 1936. With music composed by Arthur Johnston and lyrics written by Johnny Burke, this timeless classic was first introduced through the movie of the same name starring Bing Crosby himself.
During the Great Depression, many people sought solace in songs like “Pennies From Heaven,” which brought hope to their lives with its uplifting message. The song quickly solidified itself as an integral part of American popular culture due to its optimistic undertones that resonated with audiences facing hardships during those difficult times.
“The Way You Look Tonight” By Fred Astaire
One of the most iconic songs from 1936, “The Way You Look Tonight” was introduced by the legendary Fred Astaire in the RKO musical Swing Time. Written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields specifically for this film, it showcased Astaire's unparalleled talent as both a singer and dancer.
Astaire's enchanting rendition of “The Way You Look Tonight” has stood the test of time and inspired numerous covers by other notable artists such as Tony Bennett and Rod Stewart.
“Goody Goody” By Benny Goodman
One of the most memorable tunes from 1936 is undoubtedly “Goody Goody,” a catchy swing composition by Matty Malneck and Johnny Mercer. While the song was initially recorded by Ted Wallace and his Campus Boys, it gained widespread popularity when Benny Goodman and his Orchestra released their rendition featuring Helen Ward on vocals.
A significant part of what made “Goody Goody” so appealing was its embodiment of the big band sound that defined popular music during this era. The toe-tapping beat combined with Helen Ward's charming voice expertly showcased Benny Goodman's talent for innovation within the swing genre.
“Summertime” By Billie Holiday
In 1936, Billie Holiday captured the essence of summertime in her hit song “Summertime”. The song originally came from George Gershwin's opera “Porgy and Bess” but it was Holiday's version that became a classic.
Recorded in Session #7 in New York on January 30th with Teddy Wilson & his Orchestra, “Summertime” showcased Holiday's incredible vocal performance.
“Glory Of Love” By Benny Goodman
“Glory of Love” by Benny Goodman is considered one of the best songs from 1936. The song was written by Billy Hill and recorded by Benny Goodman, a prominent American musician known for his role in popularizing swing music during the big band era.
The song's popularity continued to grow over time and it has since been featured on various lists such as the top songs of the 1930s. Its enduring appeal can be attributed to its timeless lyrics, catchy melody, and charming crooning style.
“Goodnight, Irene” By Leadbelly
“Goodnight, Irene” is a timeless folk song written and popularized by Huddie Ledbetter, commonly known as Lead Belly. The song was crafted in the traditional style of American music, featuring Lead Belly's signature guitar playing and bluesy vocals.
Released in 1936, “Goodnight, Irene” quickly became one of his most famous compositions. The lyrics tell a story about being separated from a loved one but yearning to be reunited with them again.
“Cross Road Blues” By Robert Johnson
One of the most iconic blues songs from 1936 is “Cross Road Blues” by Robert Johnson. Johnson's legacy continues to impact music today, particularly in the realm of Delta blues.
The mythology surrounding this song and its lyrics have become central components in the folklore surrounding his life story.
The narrative behind “Cross Road Blues” centers on a man at a crossroads, contemplating his choice between good and evil – he eventually chooses the latter, asking for help from the devil himself.
“Did I Remember?” By Shep Fields & His Rippling Rhythm Orchestra
Another notable hit from 1936 was “Did I Remember?” by Shep Fields & his Rippling Rhythm Orchestra. This song was one of the major hits that contributed to Fields' success in the music industry during the swing era.
Shep Fields received a contract with Bluebird Records in 1936, which led to his rise in popularity among Americans who loved dance music.
“It's A Sin To Tell A Lie” By Fats Waller
Another hit song from 1936 was “It's a Sin to Tell a Lie” by Fats Waller. This jazz tune, released by Fats Waller and His Rhythm in August of that year, warns against the consequences of lying, stating that honesty is always the best policy.
Written by Billy Mayhew, “It's a Sin to Tell a Lie” quickly gained popularity and was covered by Lawrence Welk and Bob Braun. Fats Waller himself was known for his piano playing skills as well as his vocal performance in jazz/dance music.
“Alone” By Tommy Dorsey
“Alone” by Tommy Dorsey is a classic hit from 1936 which featured a vocal refrain by Cliff Weston. It was one of his 44 top 100 hits and became #1 on the Billboard charts that year.
Tommy Dorsey was not only a talented musician but also an excellent bandleader who led his orchestra to great success with many classic songs.
The popularity of “Alone” speaks volumes about the impact it had on listeners at the time, making it one of the best songs from 1936.
“The Music Goes Round & Round” By Tommy Dorsey
“The Music Goes Round & Round” by Tommy Dorsey was one of the most popular songs from 1936 and a hit with swing music lovers.
The song's popularity increased thanks to its novelty hour broadcast in 1936 on NBC radio. Listeners across the country were treated to “The Music Goes Round & Round,” which became one of the top musical arrangements during that time period.
“These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)” By Benny Goodman
“These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” is one of the most popular jazz standards from 1936. Written by Eric Maschwitz and Jack Strachey, the song reflects on lost love and nostalgic memories of a past relationship.
Benny Goodman's Orchestra performed one of the most noteworthy versions in the USA in 1936, with vocals by Helen Ward.
“A Melody From The Sky” By Jan Garber
Jan Garber and his Orchestra's rendition of “A Melody From the Sky” is undoubtedly one of the best musical pieces from 1936, capturing the essence of sweet jazz. This song was written by Louis Alter and Sidney D. Mitchell and quickly climbed to the top spot on Billboard charts in May 1936, where it stayed for twelve straight weeks.
“A Fine Romance” By Fred Astaire
“A Fine Romance” is a romantic ballad that was composed by Jerome Kern and written by Dorothy Fields. It was published in 1936 for the musical film, which starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
The song has become one of the most popular tunes from its time, and it's easy to see why.
“He's Got The Whole World In His Hands” By Marian Anderson
“He's Got the Whole World in His Hands” is a spiritual that has been performed by numerous artists and across various settings, from recital halls to civil rights protests.
However, one of the most iconic performances of this song was by Marian Anderson, a black American contralto.
The song itself was first recorded by Rev. F.W. McGee in 1929 but it was Marian Anderson who made it truly memorable when she recorded it in December 1961 as part of an album called “Very Best of Marian Anderson: Arias – Songs – Anthems”.
“Moon Over Miami” By Eddy Duchin
“Moon Over Miami” by Eddy Duchin was a chart-topping hit song in 1936 and one of the most popular songs during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The romantic ballad featured Lew Sherwood on male vocal solo, and it was written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, two notable composers during that period.
Eddy Duchin, known for his mellow piano playing style, had several other hit songs including “It's De-Lovely,” “Cheek to Cheek,” and “My Reverie.” His music was part of the big band music era where swing music dominated the charts.
“There's A Small Hotel” By Hal Kemp
“There's a Small Hotel” by Hal Kemp is a popular song composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics from Lorenz Hart. Although the song was originally written for the Broadway musical “On Your Toes”, it was dropped from the show in favor of other tracks.
The track features a beautiful melody and subtle instrumentation, bringing out an air of nostalgia that resonates well with listeners even today.
Kemp had several hits during his career, including “There's a Small Hotel,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” and “In the Middle of A Kiss”. These are classic tunes of the swing music era and became hugely popular among listeners worldwide.
Top Songs From 1936, Final Thoughts
In conclusion, the year 1936 was a great year for music lovers with several popular recordings and hit songs. From Bing Crosby's “Pennies From Heaven” to Fred Astaire's “The Way You Look Tonight”, these tunes remain timeless classics that still resonate today.