Boy, this one was a tough one… I sat down to put together a list of the songs that first got me into the blues, along with the ones that have had the most impact on my development as a musician. I really wanted to narrow it down to 10. And as you might imagine, that wasn’t particularly easy.
My very first exposure to the Blues (with a capital B) was hearing the Paul Butterfield Blues Band‘s recording of “Walkin’ Blues,” way back around ’67 or so. My older cousin, the late Jim Horner, was in a band that played some blues and soul music, and his band mate, Preston “Perky” Harrison was the guy who turned me on to Butterfield. Before that day, I had never heard anything as soulful as that harmonica, and it launched my into the blues orbit that I occupy to this day.
In any case, here they are – in no particular order – the ten blues songs that have had the most impact on my development as an appreciator of the blues, and as a blues artist:
- I Can’t Be Satisfied – Muddy Waters (1947 recording)
- Walkin’ Blues – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
- Long, Tall Mama – Big Bill Broonzy (1932 recording)
- Crazy, Mixed Up Kid – Little Walter Jacobs
- Big-Legged Woman – Freddie King
- Frosty – Albert Collins
- Sittin’ on Top of the World – Chester Burnett, aka Howlin’ Wolf
- Long Distance Call – Muddy Waters
- Hard Times – Ray Charles
- She’s Dynamite – B.B. King (1948 recording)
Of course, Muddy gets “two” in this list, as well he should… even if Willie Dixon actually wrote many of the songs that Muddy is known for. And, the list of songs – and artists – that these tracks led me to is infinitely longer, and covers a wider range of styles. But these were the ones that started it all, at least for me.
Here’s a Spotify playlist with all 10 songs (by 9 different artists):
So, how about you? What are some of your favorites?