photo of Elise LeGrow

Canadian songstress Elise LeGrow’s Top 10 favourite blues songs compiled below for your listening pleasure. 


1. Etta James – I’d Rather Go Blind – from the album Tell Mama

Etta sounds like she’s on the verge of tears throughout this performance, pleading that her lover stays despite evidence that he’s already gone.

2. Booker T and the MGs – Green Onions – from the album Green Onions

One of my favourite instrumental tracks ever, a classic 12-bar blues starring the Hammond B3.


3. Bo Diddley – You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover – from the album Bo Diddley

Bo conveys here what I believe to be a fundamental truth, that we are far more than our ‘covers’ infer. This message is especially relevant in America today, at the mercy of a president whose racist and sexist commentary bears resemblance to that of the ’60s when this song was originally released.


4. Chuck Berry – Maybellene – from the album Chuck Berry is on Top

One of Chuck’s classic frenetic tunes. He pleads with his defiant girl here while literally chasing her down the road, he in his Ford and she in her Cadillac.

5. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Rock Me

A gorgeous gospel lyric sung atop a standard blues progression which became hugely successful upon release by Decca in 1938, much to the chagrin of conservative churchgoers.

6. Odetta – Go Down Sunshine – from the album, Odetta Sings the Blues

Odetta’s voice is always so striking in its breadth, so wide and open. Here she sings about the impermanence of today and the hope that tomorrow will bring something better, even when it may be just more of the same.

7. Led Zeppelin – Since I’ve Been Loving You – from the album Led Zeppelin III

I’m a huge Zeppelin fan and this tune is no exception. A classic tale of heartbreak and sorrow, and the sense that you should have known better all along.

8. The Black Keys – Aeroplane Blues – from the album Rubber Factory

This song describes the melancholic abstraction of personhood that occurs when you’re flying all over and never sticking in one place too long… especially while hungover!

9. Alabama Shakes – Hold On – from the album Boys & Girls

Brittany Howard’s voice soars in this hopeful song released in 2012. The album is one of my favourites released in recent years.

10. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. – from the album S.O.B.

The upbeat feel of this tune, complete with handclaps and repeating “mm” vocal juxtaposes the dark subject matter – a cycle of alcoholism and withdrawal.


Elise LeGrow’s new album Playing Chess celebrates the label’s artists and recordings and is out now, click on the image below for more details.

image of banner for Elise LeGrow Playing Chess album