Top 10s for Memory

Even though individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other memory impairments may not recall the name of a particular song or why they know it, they convey a sense of "knowing" through their responses of increased attention, positive affect and reduced agitation.


Based on more than 30 years of experience, the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF) has found that despite losses in cognitive ability, short–term memory and changes in behavior, people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia have the ability to recognize music of personal importance.

Trying to find the right song to reach a person with dementia may be difficult if their personal music preferences are not known. However, research in music and memory indicates that people tend to remember best the songs that were popular when they were teenagers through their early 20s.

Here are examples of some of the most requested songs from various musical genres as well as time periods. We have provided links to these songs on iTunes so you would be ready to load them onto your loved one's MP3 player/iPod in no time.


I Say A Little Prayer, Aretha Franklin

Baby Love, Diana Ross & The Supremes

It's the Same Old Song, Four Tops

Dancing In the Streets, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

My Guy, Mary Wells

(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding

(What A) Wonderful World, Sam Cooke

The Tracks of My Tears, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

My Cherie Amour, Stevie Wonder

My Girl, The Temptations


Moon Glow, Artie Shaw

Some Enchanted Evening, Barbra Streisand

God Bless The Child, Billie Holiday

White Christmas, Bing Crosby

That's Amore, Dean Martin

Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be), Doris Day

Unforgettable, Nat “King” Cole

Fever, Peggy Lee

Some Enchanted Evening, Perry Como

Mambo Italiano, Rosemary Clooney


The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss), Betty Everett

Do You Wanna Dance, Bobby Freeman

Take Good Care of My Baby, Bobby Vee

Runaround Sue, Dion

Dawn (Go Away), Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Downtown, Petula Clark

He's So Fine, The Chiffons

This Magic Moment, The Drifters

A Little Bit Of Soap, The Jarmels

Will You Love Me Tomorrow, The Shirelles


Don't Stop, Fleetwood Mac

Dawn (Go Away), Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Come A Little Bit Closer, Jay & The Americans

California Girls, The Beach Boys

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones

The Times They Are A-Changin', Bob Dylan

Sunshine On My Shoulders, John Denver

House of the Rising Sun, The Animals

Monday, Monday, The Mamas and the Papas

Let It Be (by Paul McCartney), Paul McCartney


"New York, New York" from On the Town, Adolph Green, Cris Alexander, John Reardon

People (Funny Girl), Barbra Streisand

Hallo Dolly (From "Hello Dolly"), Carol Channing & Cast

Everything's Coming Up Roses (Gypsy), Ethel Merman

Whatever Lola Wants (Damn Yankees), Gwen Verdon

If I Were a Rich Man (Fiddler on the Roof), Zero Mostel

Give My Regards To Broadway, Judy Garland

If I Loved You (Carousel), John Raitt, Jan Clayton

My Favorite Things (The Sound of Music), Mary Martin

Once In Love With Amy (Where’s Charlie), Norman Wisdom


Rock of Ages (duet With Vince Gill), Amy Grant

Not About Us, Bishop Noel Jones & The City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir

I'm Walking, Donnie McClurkin

Blessed Assurance, Cece Winans

Do You Know Jesus, Jackie Ball

Amazing Grace, Mahalia Jackson

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Mavis Staples & Lucky Peterson

Soon I Will Be Done With the Troubles of the World, Rev. James Cleveland & The New Jersey Mass Choir

His Eye Is On the Sparrow, Selah

Jacob’s Ladder, The Staple Singers

Just As I Am, Wintley Phipps


I'm Still a Guy, Brad Paisley

Yes!, Chad Brock

This Kiss, Faith Hill

River of Love, George Strait

Hurt (Dedicated To Johnny Cash) , Johnny Cash

The Gambler, Kenny Rogers

Mama Tried, Merle Haggard

Lone Cowboy / Carolina In The Pines, Michael Martin Murphey

Because of You, Reba McEntire & Kelly Clarkson

The Devil Went Down to Georgia, The Charlie Daniels Band


La Vida Es un Carnaval, Celia Cruz

Se Me Fue, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico

Turn the Beat Around, Gloria Estefan

Nessun Dorma, Jose Carreras

Amor de Mis Amores, La Sonora Dinamita

I Need to Know, Marc Anthony

Para Siempre, Vincente Fernandez

Son Fo, Africando

WSJ video sidebar

Music Therapy and Dementia

The Wall Street Journal's Melinda Beck and Christina Jeng did a feature on how familiar music is being used at CenterLight Health System Health Services in the Bronx to help individuals with dementia. Click on the following to view the clip,
"Music Triggering Memories in Dementia Patients."