I plan to wrap up the sixth of my decade lists tomorrow. It may be the last one I do for at least 7 years. I don't think I could tackle the 40s. It's just too hard to figure out what was actually released when. For instance, I haven't included any Charlie Parker in my 50s list. I'm pretty sure his recordings I like best are from the 40s, but I don't doubt that there were some terrific live versions from the early 50s I could have included if I had a more full appreciation for his whole discography.
Another issue with the 50s, which I expect would be even more challenging in the 40s, are the songs that were recorded by many artists. It's one thing for me to say I like Elvis Presley's "Mystery Train" better than Junior Parker's original because I know both versions well, or that Pat Boone's "Tutti Frutti" could be ignored entirely in favor of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti". I also had no problem in the 70s preferring Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny Bout Peace Love and Understanding" to the Brinsley Schwartz original. With the standards from the 30s and 40s, I know the songs more than I know the individual performances and it's often hard with re-issues to sort out recording dates from release dates. I've tried to stick with release dates for these countdowns.
If you're looking for any of the 6 countdowns, they're located here:
1950s (top 400)
1960s (top 500)
1970s (top 500)
1980s (top 500)
1990s (top 300)
2000s (top 300)
If you're extra-interested in the process for making these countdowns, there's a four part interview located here:
part 1 - including the question what makes your lists different?
part 2 - including the question what is the ranking process?
part 3 - including the question which decade was the easiest?
part 4 - including the question what sort of feedback have you received?
Special thanks to Jack at SaltInWound for doing the interview two years ago. They haven't been among my more popular posts, but I really enjoyed it myself, and it helped me think through some aspects of the process that ultimately affected the 1960s and 1950s lists.