I’m sick today, down with fever and a bad stomach. It’s safe to say I’ve got the blues. Being a Monday, I couldn’t feel much more down. Cue Robert Johnson – Anyway it got me thinking about all the blues song’s I’ve listened to all through the years. Much like Jim Morrison did back in his younger days, I love the blues. Blues and Jazz remain forms of music that are America’s gift to the world.
Let me remind you that there has never been an artform so influential in the history of music than the old school American blues. It influenced Rock n Roll heavily in the 50’s and 60’s with many bands covering old blues numbers.
What is the blues? – Well if you’re down and out, broken hearted or broke you most defintely have got the blues. But in music – it’s a brilliant artform
Anyway, I decided to make my day productive, well sort of and make a list of my top 20 blues songs of all time.
It was really difficult to make a top 20 because of the sheer number of classics, but I have tried.
Here goes ->
20. Larry Davis – Texas Flood
This song was recorded in 1958 with Fenton Robinson on guitar, this song was later popularised by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
19. Blind Lemon Jefferson – ‘Lectric Chair Blues
I love Blind Lemon Jefferson, being blind didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most revered musicians of his time- I went through a phase of listening to all his music about 4 years back.
18. Jimmy Reed – I’m The Man Down There
Jimmy Reed was another super talented blues musician. Here is one of his best songs
17. Otis Rush – Got To Be Some Changes Made
“His sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and became an influence on Michael Bloomfield, Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Stevie Ray Vaughan.” – Wikipedia
16. Robert Petway – Catfish Blues
Very little is known about Robert Petway. He recorded only sixteen songs between 1941-1942 and there is only one photo available of him. But this song, “Catfish Blues” is an important part of blues history ! Later covered by Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix.. This is a legendary song right here.
15. Lightnin’ Hopkins – Bring Me My Shotgun
Well lets just keep this to a song. But nonetheless a blues classic and a great song.
14. Robert Wilkins – Rollin’ Stone part 1 & 2
Written by Robert Wilkins or Muddy Waters, it remains unknown but this song is a classic.
13. Robert Johnson – Sweet Home Chicago
So he enters this list at 13 but he will be featured heavily, one of the best and greatest blues musicians that ever lived who would later heavily influence Eric Clapton and other rock n roll greats.
12. Lonnie Johnson – Too Late To Cry
“I was lucky to meet Lonnie Johnson at the same club I was working and I must say he greatly influenced me. You can hear it in that first record. I mean Corrina, Corrina…that’s pretty much Lonnie Johnson. I used to watch him every chance I got and sometimes he’d let me play with him. I think he and Tampa Red and of course Scrapper Blackwell, that’s my favorite style of guitar playing.”
In his autobiography,Chronicles, Vol. 1, Bob Dylan wrote about the performing method he learned from Robert Johnson and remarked that Robert Johnson had learned a lot from Lonnie Johnson. Some of Robert Johnson’s songs are seen as new versions of songs recorded by Lonnie Johnson. -Wikipedia – Nuff said
11. Otis Spann – The Blues Don’t Like Nobody
Many consider Otis Spann to be the leading postwar Chicago blues pianist. He was known for his disctinctive blues paino playing.
Drumroll please…. Now The Top 10
10. Big Joe Williams – Baby Please Don’t Go
This song man ! It would go on to be covered by Van Morrison, AC/DC and Aerosmith. But the original was recorded by Big Joe in the 1930s.
9. Blind Willie McTell – Statesboro Blues
This song was popularised by The Allman Brothers Band and covered by others later. But this is the original.
8. Leadbelly – Where Did You Sleep Last Night(In The Pine)
Who doesn’t know this song! Covered by Nirvana’s Kurt Kobain but not many know this was an old blues number written by Leadbelly in the 1940’s.
7. J.B Lenoir – Alabama Blues
Lenoir’s guitar-playing father introduced him to the music of Blind Lemon Jefferson, which became a major influence. He went on to be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
6. Howlin’ Wolf – Back Door Man
This was written by Willie Dixon recorded by Howlin’ Wolf and covered later by Jim Morrison and The Doors on their first album. Epic song!
5. Blind Lemon Jefferson – Matchbox Blues
Blind Lemon Jefferson features again with his classic Matchbox Blues. “Sittin here wonderin will a matchbox hold my clothes” Love it
4. John Lee Hooker – Boogie Chillin
Legendary song. Boogie with this one.
3. Muddy Waters – Mannish Boy
Muddy waters’ Classic would go on to become a blues classic. He went on to perform it with the Rolling Stones as well.
2. B.B King – Sweet Little Angel
The King! Of course everybody knows – The Thrill Is Gone but this is one of my favourites.
RIP B.B King you legend.
1. Robert Johnson – Travelling Riverside Blues
Numero Uno. Seriously Robert Johnson had to be number one. His albums are classics every song is so damn good. But this one, later covered by Led Zeppelin is my favourite. Dead at 27 a damn shame. “Take my rider by my side” and “Squeeze my lemon till the juice runs down my leg” were lyrics written by Robert Johnson and not Robert Plant. Robert Johnson‘s life is well documented as he will remain one of THE most influential musicians in history.
I really enjoyed writing and compiling this list and in case I missed out your favourite blues tunes do let me know in the comments below.
“Well I’m an old blues man, I think you’ll understand, I’ve been singing the blues ever since the world began.” – Jim Morrison
As an added bonus and a must listen here are the complete Robert Johnson recordings!
Peace out everybody! 😀