You’ve planned your road trip. The essentials are packed and the car is loaded.
In addition to good snacks and even better company, a perfect playlist is necessary for a memorable road trip. These 12 blues songs will bring enjoyment to your drive. Don’t be fooled, not all blues songs have to be sad.
1. Lightnin’ Hopkins – “Baby Please Don’t Go”
As a great blues player, whose style was later defined as Texas-Blues, you must know Lightnin’ Hopkins’ music. His guitar sings with him, while sometimes completing the lyric line with his instrument. “Baby Please Don’t Go,” a plea to his wife, offers a steady beat that gets your blood pumping and your foot tapping.
2. Keb’ Mo’ – “Am I Wrong”
If you haven’t heard this song, it will without a doubt get stuck in your head. Keb’ Mo’, a modern artist, gets down to the root of blues with a quick fingerpicking style that fills the soul. He loves a woman and simply wants to know, “Am I Wrong.”
3. Bonnie Raitt – “Love Me Like a Man”
Most people are familiar with Raitt’s “Something to Talk About,” but this version of “Love Me Like a Man” is full of sassy, strong lyrics. Raitt rips on her guitar live in concert with no accompaniment, allowing anyone to feel empowered when driving down the road solo.
4. Chris Smither – “The Devil’s Real”
Smither offers a low, soulful and wise voice that reaches deep within our emotions. “The Devil’s Real” is in a minor key and offers a different transition from earlier songs. It’s simple but packed lyrics that will leave you wanting to hit repeat.
5. Elmore James – “Coming Home”
This song will definitely pick you up from Smither’s “The Devil’s Real.” In 2015, classic blues player, Elmore James, was named number 30 in the Rolling Stone’s article “100 Greatest Guitarists.” This song is fun, upbeat, inspiring and appropriate to listen to in the car on your way to that special destination. “Coming Home” makes any scenery outside the window an exciting spiritual journey.
6. Little Walter – “Last Night”
Slowing it down, Little Walter shows us how the blues can really tug at the heartstrings. His solemn sound is accompanied by a wailing harmonica while we hear simple lyrics like, “Last Night I lost the best friend I ever had / Now you gone and left me, that make me feel so bad…”
7. Howlin’ Wolf – “Smokestack Lightnin’”
Wolf belts out “Smokestack Lightnin,” which explains his past and current situation with both life and woman. Emotions of anger, loneliness, desperation and longing thrive within this song. The beat is steady, but not too quick…just like a train chugging down the tracks.
8. Doc Watson – “Deep River Blues”
If you’re unfamiliar with the great Doc Watson, you’ll be glad to learn about this song. This is one of his most popular hits with his quick fingerpicking styles. Its tempo is easy going for that trip down the road. For those of you that don’t know, this style is difficult to master with clarity and accuracy. Watson did it, and did so extremely well… all while he was blind.
9. Chris Smither – “Killing the Blues”
Smither brings us back to the reality of blues with elegant sorrow. “Killing the Blues” is stunning in its instrumentation and style. Slowing us down once more. This song will leave you contemplating your situation while resonating in your emotions.
10. Lightnin’ Hopkins – “Goin’ to Louisiana”
Good ole Lightnin’ picks us back up one last time with “Goin’ to Louisiana.” This song has the traditional pulsing blues tempo while he rips some sweet, simple solos that make you want to dance with your seatbelt on.
11. B.B. King – “Stormy Monday”
The great B.B. King opens with a wailing solo for “Stormy Monday.” The live version of King is one of his last numbers of the show, which is a precursor for the end of the playlist. This would be no kind of Blues playlist without B.B. King singing the classic “Stormy Monday.”
12. David Bromberg – “Dehlia”
Slowing us down to the end of the playlist, is a cover of Blind Willie McTell. (A great Texas-Blues artist that influenced Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and many others.) David Bromberg does McTell justice with this gorgeous rendition of “Dehlia.” With Bromberg’s slow fingerpicking style, we hear the story about a woman who’s been murdered, her murderer and why. It’s a dichotomy having such beauty of the song, but such a dark story.
To listen to the full playlist, here is the link: https://open.spotify.com/user/thebundlemagazine/playlist/0XPmXxZFj8yV7qql6JK5mx
Photo Credit: Andi Risk