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Lyrics From No. 1 Hit Songs Through the Years

Music has an arguably unmatched ability to evoke strong emotions and stir meaningful memories. A favorite song often transports us back to the time when we first heard it, proving the well-studied connection between music and memory. Similar to the way we learned to memorize the alphabet by singing the ABC song, music helps us “memorize” moments in time, especially early in our life, when so many experiences and emotions are new.

Of course, the biggest hits of the time are often the songs we know by heart, forming the soundtrack of our lives. Billboard magazine has tracked these hits since July 27, 1940, when the first No. 1 single, Tommy Dorsey’s “I’ll Never Smile Again,” topped the Billboard chart, where it stayed for 12 weeks. The Billboard Hot 100 chart debuted in 1958 with Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool" at the top, and remains the music industry standard to this day.

From the invasion of rock ’n’ roll to the ’80s power ballads to the catchy beats of today, here are some of the most memorable and moving lyrics from No. 1 songs through the decades.

I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places / That this heart of mine embrace all day through
“I’ll Be Seeing You,” Bing Crosby, 1944

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And while they were dancing / My friend stole my sweetheart from me
“The Tennessee Waltz,” Patti Page, 1950

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People see us everywhere / They think you really care / But myself I can’t deceive / I know it’s only make believe
“It’s Only Make Believe,” Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, 1958

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(I can’t stop loving you) / I’ve made up my mind / To live in memory of the lonesome times
“I Can’t Stop Loving You,” Ray Charles, 1962

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Remember to let her into your heart / Then you can start to make it better
“Hey Jude,” The Beatles, 1968

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All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go / I’m standing here outside your door / I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
“Leaving on a Jet Plane,” Peter, Paul and Mary, 1969

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When you’re weary / Feeling small / When tears are in your eyes / I will dry them all
“Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Simon & Garfunkel, 1970

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When you wish upon a star / Your dreams will take you very far / But when you wish upon a dream / Life ain’t always what it seems
“Shining Star,” Earth, Wind & Fire, 1975

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Look in my heart / And let love keep us together
“Love Will Keep Us Together,” Captain & Tennille, 1975

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Once upon a time, I was falling in love / But now I’m only falling apart / There’s nothing I can do / A total eclipse of the heart
“Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Bonnie Tyler, 1983

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Maybe I’m just too demanding / Maybe I’m just like my father, too bold / Maybe you’re just like my mother / She’s never satisfied
“When Doves Cry,” Prince, 1984

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Well, I need someone to hold me / But I’ll wait for somethin’ more / Yes, I gotta have faith
“Faith,” George Michael, 1988

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It’s been seven hours and fifteen days / Since you took your love away / I go out every night and sleep all day / Since you took your love away
“Nothing Compares 2 U,” Sinéad O’Connor, 1990

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And I’m wishing you joy and happiness / But above all this, I wish you love
“I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston, 1993

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Fool, death ain’t nothin’ but a heartbeat away / I’m livin’ life do or die, what can I say?
“Gangsta’s Paradise,” Coolio featuring L.V., 1995

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You got the kind of loving that can be so smooth / Gimme your heart, make it real, or else forget about it
“Smooth,” Santana featuring Rob Thomas, 1999

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And suddenly, I’m melting into you / There’s nothing left to prove / Baby, all we need is just to be
“Breathe,” Faith Hill, 2000

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Gotta change my answering machine, now that I’m alone / ‘Cause right now it says that “We can’t come to the phone” / And I know it makes no sense, ‘cause you walked out the door / But it’s the only way I hear your voice anymore
“So Sick,” Ne-Yo, 2006

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You must not know ’bout me / You must not know ’bout me / I could have another you in a minute
“Irreplaceable,” Beyoncé, 2007

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Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof / (Because I’m happy) / Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
“Happy,” Pharrell Williams, 2014

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Hello from the other side / I must’ve called a thousand times / To tell you I’m sorry / For everything that I’ve done
“Hello,” Adele, 2015

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Yeah, I got boy problems, that’s the human in me / Bling bling, then I solve ’em, that’s the goddess in me
“Truth Hurts,” Lizzo, 2019

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I saw you dancing in a crowded room / You look so happy when I’m not with you / But then you saw me, caught you by surprise / A single teardrop falling from your eye
“Save Your Tears,” The Weeknd and Ariana Grande, 2021

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When my depression works the graveyard shift, all of the people / I’ve ghosted stand there in the room
“Anti-Hero,” Taylor Swift, 2022

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Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

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About the Author
Kristina Wright
Kristina is a coffee-fueled writer living happily ever after with her family in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia.
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