Here's the deal. I know I'm walking on shaky ground when I pick my favorite blues tunes. I'm opening myself up to folks who eat and sleep the blues and have forgotten more about the blues than I will ever know. Soooooooo, let me just say right now - THESE ARE MY FAVORITES!
Next, you might ask, why start with blues favorites, why not Country, or Rock? The simple answer is I had to start somewhere. I promise I'll touch upon other songs in other genres in later posts but for now, these were fun to gather and hopefully you'll find at least one song that you didn't know that will make you smile.
Next, I'm not sure what order to put these in or even how many I want to share, but without further ado, here's my list of blues songs. enjoy!!!
1. The Very Thing That Makes Her Rich Will Make You Poor - Ry Cooder
Ry Cooder can play a slide guitar. Dare I say it he may be the best slide guitar on the planet. Some of his best work is on this song, (on the Bop 'til you Drop album) along with a message that talks of a man whose had a bad time at the hands of some very bad woman.
2. Loan Me a Dime - Boz Skaggs
Boz shares this song with Duane Allman, who plays lead. A ridiculously long song (over 11 minutes) this song has a lot of the standards that one finds in a blues songs,: horns, nice guitar work, a man who knows he's made a mistake and wants his woman back. Also, a nod toward a time when if you wanted to make a phone call you needed a pay phone.
3. Demon in Disguise - David Bromberg
This is old Bromberg from a time when he was considered crazy maybe even a little dangerous. I always loved that. The song speaks about sorcery and casting spells and By the Gods of Hogarth you better show some respect.
4. Soulful Dress - Ana Popovich
Ana can the sing the blues and gee whiz, looks great in high heels and even naked (which she is on her latest album, but hiding behind her electric guitar). Soulful dress speaks of a woman who knows she looks good and is gonna show it all off tonight. She even warns other women to keep a watch on their men.
5. Turtle Blues - Janis Joplin
Here's a song that speaks the truth - I'm not looking for a relationship, I just want a drinking partner - sung by maybe one of the most recognizable voices in all of music. She sings like she wants to rip out her own throat from the inside. Makes me swallow just to listen.
6. Fishin' Blues - Taj Mahal
There are some who might say that this is not a true blues song (although it has blues in its title). It a hybrid of folk and blues. a song about going fishin' it makes me smile and hum along every time.
7. Everything I Know About the Blues I Learned From You - Delbert McClinton
Delbert has a voice created to sing the blues. A voice meant to be displayed in smoky bars. A simple song about where he learned the important lessons in life. But make no mistake. No matter where he might have learned to make an omelet, he learned the blues all from a very mean woman.
8. Have You Ever Loved A Woman - Derek and the Dominoes
We're talking Eric Clapton here with Duane Allman, the two of them swapping leads and singing about loving a woman who belongs to another man. You can find this gem on one of the best albums ever released, 'Layla and Other Love Songs'.
9. Wang Dang Doodle - Koko Taylor
Legend has it that Willie Dixon stayed up late one night writing this song for a one particular voice, that of killer blues lady Koko Taylor. When he finished he immediately (three o'clock in the morning) called her on the phone and sang it to her. The party to end all parties - A Wang Dang Doodle.
10. Leave the Light On - Beth Hart
Beth Hart picked up the torch that Janis Joplin let fall when she died. Beth sings with urgency and pain and as if she needs to sing this song before she goes out and does something reckless and perhaps even fatal. Leave the Light On has a line that says 'I cut myself to make sure I'm alive.' Oh my God.
11. Whipping Post - Allman Brothers
A piano blues song, it speaks of a love so toxic and tragic that the lover feels as he is being beaten and tortured and 'tied to the whipping post'. In my opinion, one the Allman Brothers best songs.
12. Mercury Blues - David Lindly
With a little help from Jackson Browne, Lindley sings of one life's primal urges - the need to get a hot car. He wants to impress women and ride around town. Can't argue with that.
13. Cry Me a River - Joe Cocker
Now it's true that a buttload of people have sung this song and sung it well, including Etta James, but for my money Joe Cocker does it best. The premise is simple. You broke my heart you selfish bastard. If you want me back, prove it. Cry me a river of tears.
14. I Gotta Get Drunk - The Little Willies
Another of those songs that arguably might not be pure blues, but Nora Jones and a whole lot of great musicians sing about the joys of inebriation.
15. Steamroller Blues - James Taylor
On an album of terrific songs, 'Sweet Baby James' Taylor sings of his prowess as a lover and how he means to win (it sounds more like overpower ) one particular woman. This is the song which gave us 'I'm a steamin' hunk of steam engine' and the inference is that he's comin' for some lovin'.
16. Crossing Muddy Water - John Hiatt
This song owns me. I love it. It about a man's lady who ran away on a riverboat and left her husband and child. The man is bereft. Also the playing s off the charts.
17. Jelly Roll - Joe Bonamassa
Joe might be one of the truly great guitar players playing around today. The song is raunchy with the original meaning of Jelly Roll. He sings of his love for the stuff.
18. Way Over Yonder - Carol King
Soulful, heartfelt, smooth. Carol sings of a better place she'll go where the sun shines and pain can't reach you. great piano, great voice.
19. Cleaning My Gun - Mark Knopfler
That's right the Dire Straits guy. Writes terrific songs. Mark lays down some wonderful riffs and has that distinctive voice.
20. Sweet Home Chicago - Big Head Todd and the Monsters
Big Head Todd is a local (Colorado ) band that I think does everything well. They have a recent album of Robert Johnson songs. Sweet is another of those songs done by just about everybody including the Blues Brothers. The Monsters do a nice job and the truth is it feels more like the original Johnson song than the /Blues Brothers.
21.Come Into My Kitchen - Keb Mo
Keb Mo is just fun. When he plays and sings it feels effortless and he feels like a friend. Come into my Kitchen is a classic. Keb Mo does it well.
22. How Blue Can You Get - B B King
Here, ladies and gentlemen is the king of the blues. BB was born to sing the blues and play Lucille, his famous guitar. In case you've never heard this song, it's the one that had a line 'I gave you seven children, now you want to give them back.'
23. Blues so Bad - Tab Benoit
Cajun guitar slinger, adds a spicy bit of gumbo to his blues and is it ever tasty. Blues so bad has some nice guitar work and it just slithers down your spine and makes you glad to be alive.
24. Brown-eyed Handsome Man - Lyle Lovett
Lyle Lovett is so cool. He sings this old classic and makes it his own. Has a big band feel, but with a little Texas twang.
25 Candy Man - Hot Tuna
This band used to be part of the old Jefferson Airplane. They decided they wanted to sing more traditional stuff than the acid rock Jefferson airplane, so they split off. They had a distictive sound and just about everything they do sounds bluesish (is that a word?). Candy Man just trips along with nice guitar and some fancy blue fiddle by Papa John Creach. Very tasty.
26. Sweet Lovin' of Soul - Maria Muldaur
Old time barrel house blues. Silky voice, fun styling. Great old timey instrumentation. Big fun
I could go on and on but I'll leave you with a an unexplained listening list to go along with the explanations above. Some are additional songs by above-mentioned artists.
River Runs Deep - Eric Clapton
Keys to the Highway - Eric Clapton
Double Trouble - Clapton/Winwood
Hesitation Blues - Hot Tuna
Down on Me - Janis Joplin
Ball and Chain - Janis Joplin
Unchain my Heart - Joe Cocker
Jockey Full of Bourbon - Joe Bonamassa
Sweet Rowena - Joe Bonamassa
Lift Every Stone - John Hiatt
Don't Want to Leave You Now - John Hiatt
Suffer If You Want to Sing the Blues - David Bromberg
Down in Hollywood - Ry Cooder
Midnight in your Eyes - The Black Keys
Shelter From the Storm - Bob Dylan
Leopard-skin Pillbox Hat - Bob Dylan
Back Door Man - The Doors
Standin' on shaky Ground - Delbert McClinton
Hammerhead Stew - Delbert McClinton
Jungle Room - Delbert McClinton
The Monkey Song - Johnny Winter
Pack Your Bags - Johnny Winter
Born Under a Bad Sign - Paul Rogers
Red House - Jimi Hendrix
Your Time is Gonna Come - Led Zepplin
Band Failure Blues - Maria Muldaur
Well that's all I got for now. Next up on the lists will be favorite Rock songs of all time. Be well.