Biggest song from the year you were born
Evan Lockhart/Thrillist
For the Record

The Biggest Song From the Year You Were Born

The act of listening to music is like time travel. You throw on a record, play a song on your phone, or pump your fist at a concert and suddenly you're transported back to a tender (or terrifying) memory from your youth: that first kiss, that long drive, or that lost afternoon in a basement jamming to Led Zeppelin. Unfortunately, our nostalgia is mostly tied up with feelings and melodies from adolescence and childhood. But what if you could climb into a musical DeLorean, gun it to 88, and get in touch with the biggest songs of the year from when you came screaming into the world as a baby? Thanks to this list, you can.

With the rise of streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal, it's never been easier to travel through a wormhole to the past and live in a cocoon of nostalgia. To help make that process easier, we've gone ahead and identified the "biggest" song in three different ways: the most popular song according to the music charts of the time, the song that was awarded the Song of the Year award at the Grammys that year, and the "best" song that we've gone ahead and selected ourselves. As we did with "The Biggest Movies From the Year You Were Born," the below entries cover everyone from the ages of 10 to 100 because you're never too young or old to find out how bizarre public taste can be!

(Before we take off, a quick note about methodology: For the "biggest" sections below, I used the Billboard Year End chart up until 1950. For the pre-1950 era, I used chart information from Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music by Joel Whitburn, a valuable resource for anyone curious about the history of American popular music. And, yes, this is mostly a "pop" music list with a few exceptions. Also, keep in mind that the Grammy winner from a given year was often released the year before, so if you notice a song listed under multiple years, that's why.)

Note: You can listen to a Spotify playlist of many of the songs featured below at the bottom of the post. 
beyonce irreplaceable
Beyoncé Knowles | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

If you were born in 2007...

The BIGGEST song was "Irreplaceable" performed by Beyoncé, which spent 10 consecutive weeks on the top of Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Not Ready to Make Nice" performed by the Dixie Chicks, which also won Record of the Year and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
But the best song was "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)" performed by UGK featuring André 3000 and Big Boi. This raucous yet sweet wedding anthem brings together three of Southern hip-hop's most influential groups: Houston's UGK, Atlanta's OutKast, and Memphis's Three 6 Mafia, whose DJ Paul and Juicy J handle production on the track. Plus, it has one of the best music videos ever made.

If you were born in 2006...

The BIGGEST song was "Bad Day" performed by Daniel Powter, which spent five consecutive weeks on the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" performed by U2, which also won Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
But the best song was "Wolf Like Me" performed by TV on the Radio. Try not to lose your shit while listening to this rumbling piece of art-rock from the risk-taking Brooklyn mainstays who might just be the most consistently excellent band of the mid-'00s indie rock boom.

If you were born in 2005...

The BIGGEST song was "We Belong Together" performed by Mariah Carey, which spent 14 non-consecutive weeks on the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Daughters" performed by John Mayer, which also won Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
But the best song was "1 Thing" performed by Amerie. The drums on this propulsive R&B track are powerful enough to knock you back to the Bush era.

If you were born in 2004...

The BIGGEST song was "Yeah!" performed by Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, which spent 12 consecutive weeks on the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Dance With My Father" performed by Luther Vandross, which also won Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
But the best song was "Jesus Walks" performed by Kanye West. Before he was a tabloid fixture and a messianic figure to hype-beasts worldwide, the future Mr. Kardashian-West was a producer-turned-rapper from Chicago with a knack for selecting brilliant samples and crafting witty punchlines. This fiery, deeply personal track might still be his best song.

white stripes elephant
The White Stripes | V2

If you were born in 2003...

The BIGGEST song was "In Da Club" performed by 50 Cent, which spent nine consecutive weeks on the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Don't Know Why" performed by Norah Jones, which also won Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
But the best song was "Seven Nation Army" performed by the White Stripes. It's really all about that riff, which takes on an elemental power when paired with Meg White's drumming and blasted from stadium speakers.

If you were born in 2002...

The BIGGEST song was "How You Remind Me" performed by Nickelback, which spent four consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Fallin'" performed by Alicia Keys, which also won Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
But the best song was "Hot in Herre" performed by Nelly. The sweaty production from the Neptunes might have helped turn this track into a hit, but it's Nelly's anarchic spirit that made this an enduring party-starting anthem.

If you were born in 2001..

The BIGGEST song was "Hanging by a Moment" performed by Lifehouse, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 but spent five non-consecutive weeks on the top of the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart.
The Song of the Year winner was "Beautiful Day" performed by U2, which also won Record of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
But the best song was "Get Ur Freak On" performed by Missy Elliott. Really, there's no better argument for this song than its opening line: "Missy be puttin' it down / I'm the hottest 'round." Case closed.

santana smooth grammys
Rob Thomas (right) and Carlos Santana (left) | Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images

If you were born in 2000...

The BIGGEST song was "Breathe" performed by Faith Hill, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 but spent six consecutive weeks on the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and 17 non-consecutive weeks on the top of the Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart.
The Song of the Year winner was "Smooth" performed by Santana featuring Rob Thomas, which also won Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
But the best song was "B.O.B." performed by OutKast. The combination of ass-shaking futuristic funk and bomb-throwing lyrical precision makes this the rare song that wiggles through time, leaving craters on the dancefloor of history.

If you were born in 1999...

The BIGGEST song was "Believe" performed by Cher, which spent four consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "My Heart Will Go On" performed by Céline Dion, which also won Record of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.
But the best song was "... Baby One More Time" performed by Britney Spears. More than an artifact of the TRL era, this exhilarating piece of bubble gum songcraft ushered in a new era of impeccable robo-pop.

If you were born in 1998...

The BIGGEST song was "Too Close" performed by Next, which spent five non-consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Sunny Came Home" performed by Shawn Colvin, which also won Record of the Year.
But the best song was "Doo Wop (That Thing)" performed by Lauryn Hill. This piercing track from the former Fugees member was the first single from her debut solo album, which remains the only full-length studio record in her occasionally bumpy musical career.

elton john princess diana funeral candle in the wind
Elton John | Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

If you were born in 1997...

The BIGGEST song was "Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About The Way You Look Tonight" performed by Elton John, which spent 14 consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Change the World" performed by Eric Clapton, which also won Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
But the best song was "Around the World" performed by Daft Punk. These French robots have written songs that performed better on the charts and won more awards, but this diabolically catchy (and mind-numbingly repetitive) travelogue is still their signature achievement.

If you were born in 1996...

The BIGGEST song was "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)" performed by Los del Río, which spent 14 consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Kiss from a Rose" performed by Seal, which also won Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
But the best song was "Common People" performed by Pulp. While Oasis's 1995 hit "Wonderwall" might be the populist pick to represent BritPop's moment in the sun, it's this droll missive from singer Jarvis Cocker that feels like the true underdog and the era's sharpest piece of songwriting.

If you were born in 1995...

The BIGGEST song was "Gangsta's Paradise" performed by Coolio featuring L.V., which spent three consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Streets of Philadelphia" performed by Bruce Springsteen, which also won Best Rock Song, Best Rock Vocal Performance (Solo), and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television
But the best song was "Waterfalls" performed by TLC. It's rare to find a socially conscious, message-driven song that also works as pure ear candy, but this powerful R&B track is the perfect mix of potent ideas and stylish swagger.  

aladdin a whole new world
Jasmine and Aladdin | Walt Disney Pictures

If you were born in 1994...

The BIGGEST song was "The Sign" performed by Ace of Base, which spent six non-consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "A Whole New World" performed by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle, which also won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television.
But the best song was "Closer" performed by Nine Inch Nails. Over two decades later, Trent Reznor's anguished plea to make love to you like an animal is still the purest expression of industrial rock's mechanized howl. It might not bring you closer to God, but it will get stuck in your head.   

If you were born in 1993...

The BIGGEST song was "I Will Always Love You" performed by Whitney Houston, which spent 14 consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Tears in Heaven" performed by Eric Clapton, which also won Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance (Male).
But the best song was "Cannonball" performed by the Breeders. From the cryptic lyrics to the aloof video, which was co-directed by Spike Jonze and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, this track is the epitome of '90s alternative rock cool.

If you were born in 1992...

The BIGGEST song was "End of the Road" performed by Boyz II Men, which spent 13 consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Unforgettable" performed by Natalie Cole with Nat King Cole, which also won Record of the Year and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s).
But the best song was "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" performed by Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg. The sound of G-Funk, the sleek and sunny California answer to gritty East Coast hip-hop, is best personified by this effort from the former NWA impresario and his skinny friend with the elegant flow.

nirvana smells like teen spirit
Nirvana | Geffen Records

If you were born in 1991...

The BIGGEST song was "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" performed by Bryan Adams, which spent seven consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "From a Distance" performed by Bette Midler.
But the best song was "Smells Like Teen Spirit" performed by Nirvana. It may have topped out at NO. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and lost the 1992 Grammy for Best Rock Song to Eric Clapton, but it's hard to argue that that this grunge classic didn't leave a bigger cultural footprint than almost any other song this decade.

If you were born in 1990...

The BIGGEST song was "Hold On" performed by Wilson Phillips, which spent one week on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Wind Beneath My Wings" performed by Bette Midler, which also won Record of the Year.
But the best song was "Nothing Compares 2 U" performed by Sinéad O'Connor. Nothing from 1990 compares 2 this emotionally devastating Prince cover from the Irish singer-songwriter.

If you were born in 1989...

The BIGGEST song was "Look Away" performed by Chicago, which spent 2 weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Don't Worry, Be Happy" performed by Bobby McFerrin, which also won Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance (Male).  
But the best song was "Fight the Power" performed by Public Enemy. This deeply political song from the Long Island hip-hop group was commissioned by director Spike Lee for his 1989 film Do The Right Thing, where it played over the opening credits and set a tone of righteous indignation.

george michael faith tour
George Michael | Michael Putland/Getty Images

If you were born in 1988...

The BIGGEST song was "Faith" performed by George Michael, which spent four weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Somewhere Out There" performed by Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram, which also won Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.
But the best song was "Sweet Child O' Mine" performed by Guns N' Roses. There's certainly an argument to be made that "Welcome to the Jungle" or "Paradise City," two excellent singles from Appetite for Destruction, deserve this spot, but if you're a sucker for the syrupy power ballad then this is the clear winner.

If you were born in 1987...

The BIGGEST song was "Walk like an Egyptian" performed by The Bangles, which spent four weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "That's What Friends Are For" performed by Dionne Warwick & Friends, which also won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
But the best song was "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (That Loves Me)" performed by Whitney Houston. Those blaring horns and that zippy synth help sell the sentiment, but, as is often the case with Houston, it's the vocals that make this song come alive, transforming a potentially chintzy dancefloor lark into something transcendent.

If you were born in 1986...

The BIGGEST song was "That's What Friends Are For" performed by Dionne Warwick & Friends, which spent four consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "We are the World" performed by USA for Africa, which also won Record of the Year, Best Music Video (Short Form), and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
But the best song was "Walk This Way" performed by Run DMC. A watershed moment in the often maligned genre of rap-rock, this deft cover was suggested by producer Rick Rubin, who thought the hip-hop group would sound great over Aerosmith's guitars. He was right.

tina turner what's love got to do with it
Tina Turner | Capitol

If you were born in 1985...

The BIGGEST song was "Careless Whisper" performed by Wham featuring George Michael, which spent three consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "What's Love Got to Do With It" performed by Tina Turner, which also won Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance (Female).
But the best song was "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" performed by Kate Bush. Is there a more beguiling '80s song than this one? The English singer-songwriter conjured a whole world of possibility with this one.

If you were born in 1984...

The BIGGEST song was "When Doves Cry" performed by Prince, which spent five consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Every Breath You Take" performed by the Police, which also won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
But the best song was "When Doves Cry" performed by Prince. Sometimes the masses get things right. In the case of this essential Prince song, the first single from the Purple Rain soundtrack, public taste perfectly lined up with the best song of the year. It's rare, but it happens.

If you were born in 1983...

The BIGGEST song was "Every Breath You Take" performed by the Police, which spent eight consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Always on My Mind" performed by Willie Nelson, which also won Best Country Vocal Performance (Male) and Best Country Song.
But the best song was "Radio Free Europe" performed by R.E.M. We might be cheating by including this song -- the original version, which many fans and some band members prefer, came out in 1981 -- but it was re-recorded and re-released as a single by the band's label I.R.S. in 1983, so we're putting it here. Either way, it's a masterpiece.

grandmaster flash and the furious five the message
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five | Sugar Hill

If you were born in 1982...

The BIGGEST song was "Physical" performed by Olivia Newton-John, which spent 10 consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Bette Davis Eyes" performed by Kim Carnes, which also won Record of the Year.
But the best song was "The Message" performed by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. The evocative imagery and emotional storytelling of this ground-breaking hip-hop track, which has been sampled by countless other artists, make it one of the genre's most celebrated song, but don't let its critical rep scare you away: "The Message" still packs a punch.

If you were born in 1981...

The BIGGEST song was "Bette Davis Eyes" performed by Kim Carnes, which spent nine non-consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Sailing" performed by Christopher Cross, which also won Record of the Year and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s).
But the best song was "Don't You Want Me" performed by the Human League. From the opening line of "You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar," this intoxicating piece of synth pop grabs you and doesn't let go. Yes, you do want it.

If you were born in 1980...

The BIGGEST song was "Call Me" performed by Blondie, which spent six consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "What a Fool Believes" performed by the Doobie Brothers, which also won Record of the Year and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals.
But the best song was "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division. The baritone wails of Ian Curtis draw you in, but it's the rhythm section, particularly Peter Hook's bass, that make the song such an enduring post-punk document.

michael jackson off the wall
Michael Jackson | Epic Records

If you were born in 1979...

The BIGGEST song was "My Sharona" performed by the Knack, which spent six consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Just the Way You Are" performed by Billy Joel, which also won Record of the Year.
But the best song was "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" performed by Michael Jackson. While Thriller is the blockbuster favorite, 1979's Off the Wall has the disco jams, like this flawless Quincy Jones produced slice of string-drenched bliss.

If you were born in 1978...

The BIGGEST song was "Shadow Dancing" performed by Andy Gibb, which spent seven consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was actually a tie between "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" performed by Barbra Streisand and "You Light Up My Life" performed by Debby Boone. "Evergreen" also won for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) and Best Pop Vocal Performance (Female).
But the best song was "Le Freak" performed by Chic. The lyrics to this disco-era jam have a reference to the mythical New York night club Studio 54, but you don't need to get past the velvet rope to freak out with Nile Rodgers and co.

If you were born in 1977...

The BIGGEST song was "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" performed by Rod Stewart, which spent eight consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "I Write the Songs" performed by Barry Manilow.
But the best song was "I Feel Love" performed by Donna Summer. The bubbling synths of super-producer Giorgio Moroder provide an ideal bed for Summer's vocals, which begin at a soft coo before taking on a more commanding tone.

abba
ABBA | RB/Redferns/Getty Images

If you were born in 1976...

The BIGGEST song was "Silly Love Songs" performed by Wings, which spent five non-consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Send in the Clowns" performed by Judy Collins.
But the best song was "Dancing Queen" performed by ABBA. Don't hold Mamma Mia and all the cheesy cultural baggage associated with this Swedish pop group against the "Dancing Queen." Just have the time of your life.

If you were born in 1975...

The BIGGEST song was "Love Will Keep Us Together" performed by Captain & Tennille, which spent four consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "The Way We Were" performed by Barbra Streisand.
But the best song was "Thunder Road" performed by Bruce Springsteen. Though the title track from the Boss's mainstream breakthrough Born to Run is probably the bigger classic rock radio staple, the opening number, with its slamming screen door and evocation of Roy Orbison, is the car you really wanna get behind the wheel of when you're pulling out of here to win. 

If you were born in 1974...

The BIGGEST song was "The Way We Were" performed by Barbra Streisand, which spent three non-consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Killing Me Softly With His Song" performed by Roberta Flack, which also won Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance (Female).
But the best song was "Rebel Rebel" performed by David Bowie. Rock's greatest shapeshifter explored more musically adventurous modes in the future, but this farewell to glam from the Diamond Dogs era finds him luxuriating in the joy of wearing a familiar mask.

stevie wonder higher ground
Stevie Wonder | David Reed/Redferns/Getty Images

If you were born in 1973...

The BIGGEST song was "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" performed by Dawn featuring Tony Orlando, which spent four consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" performed by Roberta Flack, which also won Record of the Year.
But the best song was "Higher Ground" performed by Stevie Wonder. The level of precision and care that went into making this Innervisions stand-out is stunning. From the opening notes, you're elevated.

If you were born in 1972...

The BIGGEST song was "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" performed by Roberta Flack, which spent six consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "You've Got a Friend" performed by James Taylor & Carole King, which also won Best Pop Vocal Performance (Male).
But the best song was "Heart of Gold" performed by Neil Young. There's a specific type of melancholy vibe that the best Young songs evoke, a tone that feels both buoyed by vibrant hope and tempered by wry despair. "Heart of Gold" nails it.

If you were born in 1971...

The BIGGEST song was "Joy to the World" performed by Three Dog Night, which spent six consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Bridge Over Troubled Water" performed by Simon & Garfunkel, which also won Record of the Year, Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), and Best Contemporary Song.
But the best song was "What's Going On" performed by Marvin Gaye. With its lines about love conquering hate and and a mood of rainy day tranquility, it's easy to miss how perceptive the title track to Gaye's landmark concept album is. He's not asking listeners to "imagine" a new world like John Lennon, he's talking about the granular work of fixing problems by building a coalition through conversation.

simon & garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel | GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

If you were born in 1970...

The BIGGEST song was "Bridge Over Troubled Water" performed by Simon & Garfunkel, which spent six consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Games People Play" performed by Joe South, which also won Best Contemporary Song and Best R&B Instrumental Performance.
But the best song was "Immigrant Song" performed by Led Zeppelin. Come on. Those drums can't be denied.

If you were born in 1969...

The BIGGEST song was "Sugar, Sugar" performed by the Archies, which spent four consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Little Green Apples" performed by O.C. Smith, which also won Best Country Song.
But the best song was "Gimme Shelter" performed by the Rolling Stones. Some might argue that the use of this Let It Bleed opener in a handful of famous Scorsese movies -- and in some films trying to trick you into thinking they're Scorsese movies -- has rendered it rote. Nope. They're wrong. This song still rules.

If you were born in 1968...

The BIGGEST song was "Hey Jude" performed by the Beatles, which spent nine consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Up, Up, and Away" performed by The Fifth Dimension, which also won Record of the Year, Best Performance by a Vocal Group, Best Contemporary Group Performance (Vocal or Instrumental), and Best Contemporary Single.
But the best song was "Hey Jude" performed by the Beatles. In a career with 20 No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts, this Paul McCartney track, which famously grew out of a song he wrote to comfort John Lennon's son, stands above the rest.

the beatles
The Beatles | Parlophone

If you were born in 1967...

The BIGGEST song was "To Sir with Love" performed by Lulu, which spent five consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Michelle" performed by the Beatles.
But the best song was "Respect" performed by Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul doesn't simply ask for respect. She demands it.

If you were born in 1966...

The BIGGEST song was "Ballad of the Green Berets" performed by Barry Sadler, which spent five consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "The Shadow of Your Smile" performed by Tony Bennett.
But the best song was "God Only Knows" performed by the Beach Boys. For all the complex studio shenanigans that define the Pet Sounds sessions, which saw Brian Wilson chasing an orchestral sound buried in his mind, it's the emotional core that makes "God Only Knows" such an arresting work.

If you were born in 1965...

The BIGGEST song was "Wooly Bully" performed by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, which only peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 but stayed in the Hot 100 for 18 weeks.
The Song of the Year winner was "Hello, Dolly!" performed by Louis Armstrong, which also won Best Vocal Performance (Male).
But the best song was "Like a Rolling Stone" performed by Bob Dylan. While academics and obsessives have spent decades attempting to unpack all the intricacies of this song from rock's reigning Nobel winner, it still has the capacity to surprise as a piece of music. The lyrics, the organ riff, the snarl in Dylan's voice. It's not a mystery. It's a place to get lost in.

nina simone 1964
Nina Simone | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

If you were born in 1964...

The BIGGEST song was "I Want to Hold Your Hand" performed by the Beatles, which spent seven consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Days of Wine and Roses" performed by Henry Mancini, which also won Record of the Year and Best Background Arrangement.
But the best song was "Mississippi Goddam" performed by Nina Simone. Written in response to two violent tragedies in 1963 -- the murder of Medgar Evers and the Birmingham church bombing that killed four children -- Simone's jaunty song, which she performed at the end of the Selma to Montgomery marches, captured the terror of living in a country that's "full of lies" and where "you're all going to die and die like flies."

If you were born in 1963...

The BIGGEST song was "Sugar Shack" performed by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, which spent five consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "What Kind of Fool Am I?" performed by Sammy Davis, Jr.
But the best song was "Be My Baby" performed by the Ronettes. Phil Spector's Wall of Sound production techniques earned this track a loyal following among audiophiles and studio rats, but all that sonic tinkering would be pointless if the song didn't deliver an emotional oomph at the same time. 

If you were born in 1962...

The BIGGEST song was "Stranger on the Shore" performed by Acker Bilk, which spent one week on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Moon River" performed by Henry Mancini, which also won Record of the Year and Best Arrangement.
But the best song was "Green Onions" performed by Booker T and the MGs. Simply one of the coolest instrumentals ever recorded. Try not strutting around like an idiot after pressing play.

patsy cline
Patsy Cline | MCA Nashville

If you were born in 1961...

The BIGGEST song was "Tossin' and Turnin'" performed by Bobby Lewis, which spent seven weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Theme of Exodus" by Ernest Gold.
But the best song was "I Fall to Pieces" performed by Patsy Cline. Despite the maudlin title, what really makes this country hit is Cline's stiff upper-lip approach. It's a song about heartbreak delivered with masterful restraint.

If you were born in 1960...

The BIGGEST song was "Theme from A Summer Place" performed by Percy Faith, which spent nine consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Battle of New Orleans" performed by Johnny Horton, which also won Best Country & Western Performance.
But the best song was "Georgia on My Mind" performed by Ray Charles. Penned by Tin Pan Alley composer Hoagy Carmichael in 1930, this song will always be associated with Charles, who took command of the material and made it his own.

If you were born in 1959...

The BIGGEST song was "The Battle of New Orleans" performed by Johnny Horton, which spent six consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Song of the Year winner was "Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)" performed by Domenico Modugno, which also won Record of the Year.
But the best song was "Lonely Teardrops" performed by Jackie Wilson. The extra spin Wilson puts on the phrase "say you will" is enough to make you levitate -- and certainly enough to make this the best song of the year.

Note: The Recording Academy launched the first Grammy Awards ceremony in 1959 to celebrate the prior year in music. Before 1959, everyone had to figure out what to like on their own.
link wray and the wrayman rumble
Link Wray | Rhino

If you were born in 1958...

The BIGGEST song was "Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)" performed by Domenico Modugno, which spent five non-consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
But the best song was "Rumble" performed by Link Wray and his Wraymen. The raw psychedelic nerve of this distortion-heavy instrumental track can be galvanizing or unsettling, depending on your temperament. Clearly, squares noticed: This is one of the few instrumental tracks ever banned by radio stations.

If you were born in 1957...

The BIGGEST song was "All Shook Up" performed by Elvis Presley, which spent eight consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Top 100.
But the best song was "Maybe" performed by The Chantels. Few songs so deftly map the gray territory between desire and obsession, turning anxiety and worry into something beautiful. 

If you were born in 1956...

The BIGGEST song was "Heartbreak Hotel" performed by Elvis Presley, which spent seven consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Top 100.
But the best song was "Please Please Please" performed by James Brown and the Famous Flames. The Godfather of Soul would go on to land bigger hits, plumb funkier depths, and deliver sweatier pleas, but this early breakthrough has all the ingredients that would make him a star.

little richard 1957
Little Richard | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

If you were born in 1955...

The BIGGEST song was "Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)" performed by Pérez Prado, which spent 10 weeks on top of the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart.
But the best song was "Tutti Frutti" performed by Little Richard. Nonsense words, joyful gibberish, and wild exclamations play an important role in the evolution of music. When Little Richard yelps out "Bop bopa-a-lu a whop bam boo," you get where he's coming from.

If you were born in 1954...

The BIGGEST song was "Little Things Mean a Lot" performed by Kitty Kallen, which spent nine consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart.
But the best song was "Sh-Boom" performed by The Chords. Again, more exuberant stretching of language. The Chords, a doo-wop group with no other notable hits, want to take you to "paradise up above," but they'll only do it through the power of "Sh-Boom," the magic phrase that makes this song tick.

If you were born in 1953...

The BIGGEST song was "The Song From Moulin Rouge" performed by Percy Faith, which spent 10 consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart.
But the best song was "Hound Dog" performed by Elvis Presley. Really, more modern artists should write songs about dogs. Between this, "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by the Stooges, and "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by the Baha Men, there's obviously a secret canine touch.

If you were born in 1952...

The BIGGEST song was "Blue Tango" performed by Leroy Anderson, which spent five consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart.
But the best song was "You Belong to Me" performed by Jo Stafford. The narrator of this song is telling her lover, who could be off at war or simply on a far-flung business trip, that no matter how far he travels he's still hers. Don't try to pull that "we were on a break" shit with her.

If you were born in 1951...

The BIGGEST song was "Too Young" performed by Nat King Cole, which spent five consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart.
But the best song was "Unforgettable" performed by Nat King Cole. Sorry, "Too Young," but we're picking a different Nat King Cole song here. This lush track has been featured in some very forgettable movies and TV shows over the last few decades, but when freed of treacly visual cues it can still cast a spell.

If you were born in 1950...

The BIGGEST song was "Goodnight, Irene" performed by Gordon Jenkins and The Weavers, which spent 13 weeks on top of the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart.
But the best song was "Why Do Things Happen to Me" performed by Roy Hawkins. Hawkins also wrote "The Thrill is Gone," which went on to become an oft-covered blues standard, but we're partial to this track with a delightfully woe-is-me title.

If you were born in 1949...

The BIGGEST song was "Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend)" performed by Vaughn Monroe, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 12 weeks.
But the best song was "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" performed by Hank Williams. Cheer up, Hank. You might be lonesome, but you're on this list.

If you were born in 1948...

The BIGGEST song was "Buttons and Bows" performed by Dinah Shore, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.
But the best song was "It's Too Soon to Know" performed by the Orioles. In his book Lipstick Traces, the critic Greil Marcus suggests this could be the very first rock 'n' roll record. "The Orioles' sound reached the listener as the voice of another world," he writes. "It demanded that you finish the sound, fill in the silences with your own wishes, fears, fantasies."  

If you were born in 1947...

The BIGGEST song was "Near You" performed by Francis Craig, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 17 weeks.
But the best song was "Oh, Lady Be Good" performed by Ella Fitzgerald. The scatting on this song, packed with oft-kilter moments and sonic detours, makes it required listening.

the ink spots
The Ink Spots | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

If you were born in 1946...

The BIGGEST song was "The Gypsy" performed by The Ink Spots, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 13 weeks.
But the best song was "Tenderly" performed by Sarah Vaughn. The richness of Vaughn's voice, which holds the power to invest any stray syllable with meaning, turns this ballad into an emotional journey.

If you were born in 1945...

The BIGGEST song was "Rum and Coca-Cola" performed by the Andrew Sisters and "Till the End of Time" performed by Perry Como, which were both the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.
But the best song was "This Land is Your Land" performed by Woody Guthrie. Maybe America was humming along to the sounds of the Andrews Sisters and Perry Como at the time, but this confrontational folk song pointed towards a musical revolution to come.

If you were born in 1944...

The BIGGEST song was "Shoo Shoo Baby" performed by the Andrews Sisters and "Swinging on a Star" performed by Bing Crosby, which were both the No. 1 song in the country for nine weeks.
But the best song was "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" performed by Judy Garland. One of the many songs featured in Meet Me in St. Louis, Vincente Minnelli's MGM musical hit, this rendition of the holiday staple is a showcase for Garland's beguiling voice.

lena horne in stormy weather
Lena Horne in the film "Stormy Weather" | George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

If you were born in 1943...

The BIGGEST song was "I've Heard that Song Before" performed by Harry James, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 13 weeks.
But the best song was "Stormy Weather" performed by Lena Horne. Initially written and performed at Harlem's Cotton Club in 1933, the song became tied to Horne after she sang it in the 1943 movie of the same name.

If you were born in 1942...

The BIGGEST song was "White Christmas" performed by Bing Crosby, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 11 weeks.
But the best song was "White Christmas" performed by Bing Crosby. Is it a little creepy? Sure. (Is the movie a little boring? Definitely.) But Crosby's voice is smooth enough to make the eggnog go down easy.

If you were born in 1941...

The BIGGEST song was "Amapola" performed by Jimmy Dorsey, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.
But the best song was "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" performed by the Andrews Sisters. As World War II escalated, musicians did their part by enlisting, wearing military garb, or composing odes to the troops like this tale of a gifted bugle boy who gets drafted and eventually earns the respect of his fellow soldiers through his bugle skills.

artie shaw 1940
Artie Shaw | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

If you were born in 1940...

The BIGGEST song was "Frenesi" performed by Artie Shaw, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 13 weeks.
But the best song was "When You Wish Upon a Star" performed by Cliff Edwards. This song, which was featured in Disney's animated groundbreaker Pinocchio, has the honorable distinction of being the only composition sung by a little talking cricket on this list. Tip your tiny hat to him.

If you were born in 1939...

The BIGGEST song was "Deep Purple" performed by Larry Clinton, which was the No. 1 song in the country for nine weeks.
But the best song was "Strange Fruit" performed by Billie Holiday. Covered by Nina Simone during the civil rights movement of the '60s, this wrenching protest song was written in response to the lynchings in the Jim Crow era. Its images of "blood on the leaves" and "black bodies swinging in the southern breeze" become even more devastating when delivered in Holiday's measured, melancholy voice.  

If you were born in 1938...

The BIGGEST song was "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" performed by Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.  
But the best song was "Nice Work If You Can Get It" performed by Fred Astaire. Written by composer George Gershwin for the 1937 film Damsels in Distress and also performed in 1951's American in Paris, this romantic number is one of the most thoroughly charming songs of the period.

Bing Crosby 1936
Bing Crosby | E. R. Richee via John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

If you were born in 1937...

The BIGGEST song was "Sweet Leilani" performed by Bing Crosby, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.
But the best song was "Sing Sing Sing" performed by Benny Goodman. With its blaring horns, rolling drums, and mood of revelry, big band music isn't for everyone. But this Benny Goodman song is hard to deny.

If you were born in 1936...

The BIGGEST song was "Pennies from Heaven" performed by Bing Crosby, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.
But the best song was "Cross Road Blues" performed by Robert Johnson. The idea of the crossroads as a place of physical, psychological, and spiritual reckoning is central to the blues, and no one sang about it better than Johnson.

If you were born in 1935...

The BIGGEST song was "Cheek to Cheek" performed by Fred Astaire, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 11 weeks.
But the best song was "I'm in the Mood for Love" performed by Frances Langford. While the title of this dreamy ballad eventually inspired filmmaker Wong Kar-wai's 2000 romance In The Mood for Love, the song itself debuted in the musical comedy Every Night at Eight before going on to become Langford's signature tune.

If you were born in 1934...

The BIGGEST song was "June in January" performed by Bing Crosby, which was the No. 1 song in the country for seven weeks.
But the best song was "Honeysuckle Rose" performed by Fats Waller. This playful jazz standard has style and wit. Lines like "Every honey bee fills with jealousy/When they see you out with me" might not sound smooth anymore, but you have to assume they killed in the '30s.

If you were born in 1933...

The BIGGEST song was "The Last Round-Up" performed by George Olsen, which was the No. 1 song in the country for nine weeks.
But the best song was: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" performed by Gertrude Niesen. Originally written for the Broadway show Roberta by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach, this one took on a life of its own via covers from artists including Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Sarah Vaughn, Serge Gainsbourg, and more.

If you were born in 1932...

The BIGGEST song was "In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town" performed by Ted Lewis and "Night and Day" performed by Fred Astaire with Leo Reisman, which were each the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.
But the best song was "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" performed by Duke Ellington. Sometimes the best songs function as stealth pieces of music criticism. In this jazz standard, Ellington puts his less adventurous contemporaries on blast by reminding them they aren't shit if they don't have swing, the inescapable trend of the period. Harsh but true.

blind willie mctell
Blind Willie McTell | Andrew T. Kelly/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

If you were born in 1931...

The BIGGEST song was "The Peanut Vendor" performed by Don Azpiazu and "Goodnight Sweetheart" performed by Wayne King, which were each the No. 1 song in the country for seven weeks.
But the best song was "Southern Can Is Mine" performed by Blind Willie McTell. McTell's guitar playing on this track crackles with an energy that might sound familiar to modern ears. Not only was the song covered on The White Stripes' De Stijl, but McTell is also an often-cited influence of earlier rock stars like Bob Dylan and The Allman Brothers.

If you were born in 1930...

The BIGGEST song was "Stein Song (University of Maine)" performed by Rudy Vallee, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.
But the best song was "Black Angel Blues" performed by Lucille Bogan. This song goes by a few different titles -- it's also listed as "Sweet Black Angel" or "Sweet Little Angel" -- but when Lucille Bogan sings it those quibbles about the title slip away. No matter how faded the recording might be, her voice has the ability to transfix.  

If you were born in 1929...

The BIGGEST song was "Tip Toe Through the Tulips" performed by Nick Lucas, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.
But the best song was "Am I Blue?" performed by Libby Holman. "Am I Blue?" is a central question of pop music, which often masks bouts of despair with uplifting melodies. Are you blue? You might be after you listen to this song.

carter family
The Carter Family (Maybelle, Alvin P., and Sara Carter) | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

If you were born in 1928...

The BIGGEST song was "Sonny Boy" performed by Al Jolson, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 12 weeks.
But the best song was "Wildwood Flower" performed by the Carter Family. As this NPR article notes, some of the lyrics to this country classic don't make much sense -- "And the myrtle so bright with the emerald dew, the pale and the leader and eyes look like blue" doesn't leap off the tongue -- but there's a good reason for that. The song was almost 70 years old at the time of recording and some of the lines got lost in the jumbled game of telephone that is the oral tradition. So, don't get frustrated if you struggle to sing along. 

If you were born in 1927...

The BIGGEST song was "My Blue Heaven" performed by Gene Austin, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 13 weeks.
But the best song was "Stardust" performed by Hoagy Carmichael. You could just spend months listening to covers of "Stardust," one of the most popular standards in the history of American music. Why not go back to the source and find out what all the fuss is about?

If you were born in 1926...

The BIGGEST song was "Valencia" performed by Paul Whiteman, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 11 weeks.
But the best song was "Black Bottom Stomp" performed by Jelly Roll Morton. According to legend, Jelly Roll Morton used to introduce himself by saying, "I invented jazz," which remains an excellent conversation-starter. Fans can debate whether or not his claims were true, but there's no denying the potency of this frenzied and melodically complex composition.  

ethel waters
Ethel Waters | Bettmann / Getty Images

If you were born in 1925...

The BIGGEST song was "The Prisoner's Song" performed by Vernon Dalhart, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 12 weeks.
But the best song was "Dinah" performed by Ethel Waters. The romantic songs of the '20s could teach modern songwriters a lot about devotion. "If you wander to China I would hop an ocean liner," sings Waters at one point in this song, establishing that she's either deeply in love or has trouble maintaining boundaries.

If you were born in 1924...

The BIGGEST song was "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'" performed by Wendell Hall and "California, Here I Come!" performed by Al Jolson, which were each the No. 1 song in the country for six weeks.
But the best song was "Rhapsody in Blue" performed by George Gershwin. A hybrid of classical music and jazz, this composition, which beings with a lone piano, is beloved for its bold dismissal of conventional formal structures. It just takes off and goes in whatever direction it pleases.

If you were born in 1923...

The BIGGEST song was "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" performed by Paul Whiteman, which was the No. 1 song in the country for seven weeks.
But the best song was "Downhearted Blues" performed by Bessie Smith. Known as the Empress of the Blues, Smith was a pivotal figure in the development of the then emerging genre, and this early recording finds her in fighting form.

kid ory
Kid Ory (center) | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

If you were born in 1922...

The BIGGEST song was "April Showers" performed by Al Jolson, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 11 weeks.
But the best song was "Ory's Creole Trombone" performed by Kid Ory. If you're looking for a taste of early 20th century New Orleans jazz, this free-wheeling composition is a great place to start.

If you were born in 1921...

The BIGGEST song was "Wang Wang Blues" performed by Paul Whiteman, "Cherie" performed by Paul Whiteman, and "Wabash Blues" performed by Isham Jones, which were each the No. 1 song in the country for six weeks.
But the best song was "Second Hand Rose" performed by Fanny Brice. In the 1960s, Barbra Streisand re-introduced this song to modern audiences with her rendition in the musical Funny Girl, which was partially inspired by Brice's life as a stage and film performer, but the original is worth dancing along to.

If you were born in 1920...

The BIGGEST song was "Dardanella" performed by Ben Selvin's Novelty Orchestra, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 13 weeks.
But the best song was "Dardanella" performed by Ben Selvin's Novelty Orchestra. It's not hard to see why club-going audiences, revving up for what would become the decade of the flapper, flipped for this one. 

henry burr and the peerless quartet
Henry Burr (center) and the Peerless Quartet | No Credit (Public Domain)

If you were born in 1919...

The BIGGEST song was "Till We Meet Again" performed by Henry Burr and Albert Campbell and "Beautiful Ohio" by Henry Burr, which were each the No. 1 song in the country for nine weeks.
But the best song was "Beautiful Ohio" performed by Henry Burr. Canadian tenor Henry Burr was clearly the man to beat in 1919, with his two No. 1 hits. Of the two, we prefer his rendition of "Beautiful Ohio," a paen to the MidWest that became the official state song in 1969.

If you were born in 1918...

The BIGGEST song was "Just a Baby's Prayer at Twilight (For Her Daddy Over There)" performed by Henry Burr, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 11 weeks.
But the best song was "After You've Gone" performed by Marion Harris. This jazz standard became a favorite of singers like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Tony Bennett, but it's tough to top Harris's heartfelt take.

If you were born in 1917...

The BIGGEST song was "Over There" performed by American Quartet, which was the No. 1 song in the country for nine weeks.
But the best song was "Over There" performed by American Quartet. This piece of WWI era propaganda was so effective in rallying support for the cause that its writer, composer George M. Cohan, was later awarded a special Congressional Medal of Honor for his creative services.

If you were born in 1916...

The BIGGEST song was "M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word that Means the World to Me)" performed by Henry Burr and "Goodbye, Good Luck, God Bless You (Is that All I Can Say?)" performed by Henry Burr, which were each the No. 1 song in the country for six weeks.  
But the best song was "Kiss Me Again" performed by Olive Kline. Kline's soprano voice is the reason to check out this lovelorn ballad.

If you were born in 1915...

The BIGGEST song was "It's A Long Long Way to Tipperary" performed by John McCormack, which was the No. 1 song in the country for eight weeks.
But the best song was "I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" performed by Peerless Quartet. Though history tends to flatten dissent, documents like this song, which took a stand against intervention in World War I, show us how the arguments playing out in bedrooms, town halls, and classrooms also made their way into music.

If you were born in 1914...

The BIGGEST song was "The Song that Stole My Heart Away" performed by Henry Burr and "It's A Long Long Way to Tipperary" by American Quartet, which were each the No. 1 song in the country for seven weeks.
But the best song was "Memphis Blues" performed by Victor Military Band. Written by W.C. Handy, this composition exists at a crossroads between various genres, pointing towards the future of what rock, jazz, and funk might become.

John McCormack
John McCormack | Bain News Service (Public Domain)

If you were born in 1913...

The BIGGEST song was a tie between "When I Lost You" performed by Henry Burr, "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" performed by Chauncey Olcott, "You Made Me Love You I Didn't Want to Do It" performed by Al Jolson, and "Peg O' My Heart" by performed Charles Harrison, which were each the No. 1 song in the country for seven weeks.
But the best song was "Foggy Dew" performed by John McCormack. In the same year that Russian composer Igor Stravinsky drove audiences mad with "The Rites of Spring," the general populace was enjoying the controlled performances of John McCormack, an Irish tenor with a pugnacious mug. This take on an Irish lament shows why he became such a sensation.

If you were born in 1912...

The BIGGEST song was "Moonlight Bay" performed by American Quartet, which was the No. 1 song in the country for eight weeks.
But the best song was "I Love You Truly" performed by Elsie Baker. A staple of weddings that makes an appearance in It's a Wonderful Life, this eloquent ballad of devotion has the power to make the harshest cynic a little misty-eyed.

If you were born in 1911...

The BIGGEST song was "Alexander's Ragtime Band" performed by Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.
But the best song was "Down by the Old Mill Stream" performed by Harry MacDonough. Nostalgia has always inspired songwriters -- even in 1911 -- and that's clear in this vaudeville hit written by Tell Taylor. "My darling I am dreaming of the days gone by," sings MacDonough. "When you and I were sweethearts beneath the summer sky." It's comforting to know that back in the old days musicians were still pining for the old days.

billy murray and Aileen Stanley
Billy Murray (left) and Aileen Stanley (right) | Bain News Service/Library of Congress

If you were born in 1910...

The BIGGEST song was "Casey Jones" performed by Billy Murray and American Quartet, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 11 weeks.
But the best song was "Casey Jones" performed by Billy Murray and American Quartet. This narrative preserves the memory of the railroad engineer Casey Jones, who died when his train crashed into a stalled freight in Mississippi. He's gone on to inspire countless other songs, including a famous track by the Grateful Dead. (And, yes, he has the same name as the guy from the Ninja Turtles.)

If you were born in 1909...

The BIGGEST song was "Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet" performed by Haydn Quartet, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 11 weeks.  
But the best song was "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" performed by Fisk Jubilee Singers. Long before people traded records or swapped MP3s, the oral tradition was how songs were passed through time, and this spiritual, which was often performed during the Civil Rights movement, displays the power of these songs.

If you were born in 1908...

The BIGGEST song was "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" performed by Billy Murray and Haydn Quartet, which was the No. 1 song in the country for seven weeks.
But the best song was "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" performed by  Billy Murray and Haydn Quartet. As long as there's a seventh-inning stretch, people will belt out this Tin Pan Alley song, spilling their peanuts and Cracker Jack in the process. (Note: The Bill Murray credited on this is obviously not that Bill Murray.)

If you were born in 1907...

The BIGGEST song was "School Days (When We Were A Couple of Kids)" performed by Byron Harlan, which was the No. 1 song in the country for 11 weeks.
But the best song was "Maple Leaf Rag" performed by Vess L. Ossman. Everyone loves a good rag and this one, composed by the King of Ragtime Scott Joplin, will get your toe tapping even if you're a 100 years old.

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Dan Jackson is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He's on Twitter @danielvjackson.