Our Top 10 Koko Taylor Songs list looks at the Queen of Blues. Koko Taylor’s accomplishments made her a trailblazer for women in the blues genre. Her music broke color barriers. She kept the tradition of the big belters alive. Her vocal style was reminiscent of legendary artists Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Big Mama Thornton, and Memphis Minnie. Koko Taylor’s talent left a permanent mark on the blues scene. She inspired generations of singers with her talent and determination. The gritty vocalist had an impressive stage presence that captivated her audience. Her raw vocals fit well with the new era of blues music. Fans of Koko Taylor know the singles “Wang Dang Doodle,” “I’m a Woman,” “Voodoo Woman,” “I’ve Got What It Takes,” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.” “Wang Dang Doodle” made the world take notice of a female blues singer. Koko Taylor won awards throughout her illustrious career. She won more Blues Music Awards than any other female artist.
Cora Ann Walton was born September 28, 1928 -June 3, 2009. She got started singing in blues clubs in Chicago. Her life changed when blues singer and musician Willie Dixon spotted her singing in a club. This opportunity led to her recording music. She recorded the single “Chicago Blues” in 1963. Willie Dixon helped get her signed to a record label. Koko Taylor recorded “Wang Dang Doodle.” The hit song sold over one million copies. It reached number four on the R&B charts and 58 on the Hot 100 charts. It helped launch her career. The single proved that women could dominate blues music. The song became her signature song. In 1969, she released her eponymous album. The album includes the singles “Wang Dang Doodle,” “Love You Like a Woman,” and “I Don’t Care Who Knows.” Basic Soul premiered in 1972. It features the singles “Let Me Love You Baby,” “I Need More and More,” and “That’s the Way Love Is.”
The following year, she released the album South Side Lady. It includes the songs “I’m a Little Mixed Up” and “Wonder Why.” In 1975, the legend recorded the album I Got What It Takes. The album features the tracks “I Got What It Takes,” “Voodoo Woman,” and “Be What You Want to Be.” In 1978, Earthshaker hit the shelves. It features the songs “I’m a Woman,” “Hey Bartender,” “Let the Good Times Roll,” and “Cut You Loose.” From the Heart of a Woman premiered in 1981. It features the singles “I’d Rather Go Blind,” “Never Trust a Man,” and “Keep Your Hands off Him.” In 1985, she released Queen of the Blues. The album contains the songs “Something Inside Me,” “I Cried Like a Baby,” and “The Hunter.”
While she was on tour, she got into a vehicular accident. After recuperating, she released the album Jump for Joy (1990). It includes “Can’t Let Go,” “Stop Watching Your Enemies,” and “Jump for Joy.” In 1993, Koko Taylor recorded the album Force of Nature. It produced the singles “Mother Nature,” “If I Can’t Be First,” and “Born Under a Bad Sign.” After a seven-year hiatus, Koko Taylor released Royal Blue. It contains the songs “Ernestine,” “Bring Me Some Water,” “The Man Next Door,” and “Save Your Breath.” Koko Taylor battled health issues that prevented her from recording music. After another seven-year hiatus, the talented singer released Old School. She recorded the singles “Piece of a Man,” “Money Is the Name of the Game,” and “Better Watch Your Step.” Old School is her last studio album before she passed away.
Koko Taylor was a legendary artist who broke down barriers for female blues singers. She succeeded in a male-dominated industry. Koko Taylor changed the game. Her big voice and raw vocals left a mark in music. Our Top 10 Koko Taylor Songs list showcases her incredible talent and range.
# 10 – Let the Good Times Roll
The 10th song on our Top 10 Koko Taylor Songs list is “Let the Good Times Roll.” She recorded the song for the album The Earthshaker. It dropped in 1978. The song describes how it feels to live in the moment. Koko Taylor wants listeners to let loose and feel free. You only live once. It’s vital to make the most of your time. When you die, it’s too late to enjoy life. She feels negativity wastes time. Listeners need to embrace happiness and fun.
“Let the Good Times Roll” is an energetic song about living life to the fullest. The uplifting message encourages listeners to celebrate life. We only live once, so we need to embrace life. This anthem works for people of all ages. Everyone wants to have fun, and Koko Taylor believes we deserve it. The stress of life brings people down. This song lifts you. She recorded the song in 1978, but the message works today. This theme won’t get old because people always want to have fun. Koko Taylor recorded a blues song during the disco era. Songs with this message usually feature dance music. Koko Taylor told the same story with blues music. She didn’t change her style to appease the disco era. Koko Taylor stayed true to her roots. Her raw vocals show throughout the song. She takes advantage of her gritty vocals to the best of her ability. We picked this song for the uplifting message and her raw vocals.
# 9 – Time Will Tell
The ninth pick on our Top 10 Koko Taylor Songs list is “Time Will Tell.” It appears on the album Jump for Joy. “Time Will Tell” premiered in 1990. The song deals with heartbreak. It opens with her thinking about her lover’s departure. She spotted his empty glass on the table and wondered if she had seen her man for the last time. Koko Taylor noticed the area he was sitting in. He has never left early before. She cleaned her house, hoping for his return. All she’s left with are the memories of his face when he kissed her for the last time.
The gut-wrenching tune conveys the emotional turmoil of a woman uncertain about her relationship. She deals with the aftermath of abandonment. The beautifully written lyrics describe a sense of longing. Anyone who experiences heartbreak knows her pain. You empathize with the story if you lost someone you love and don’t know if they are returning. The lyrics hit home if your heart gets broken. “Time Will Tell” has a bluesy sound that fits the theme. Once the music starts, you get hooked on the song. It’s the perfect soundtrack when you feel broken down. The music has an old-school sound that blows you away. The musicians are top-notch. This song remains on repeat if you get hurt. Koko Taylor’s raw vocals sizzle throughout the track. She stays in character in the song. Koko Taylor owns this song. She hits notes that other women in her vocal range couldn’t do.
# 8 – Bring Me Some Water
“Bring Me Some Water” is the eighth pick on our Top 10 Koko Taylor Songs list. Koko Taylor recorded the song for the Royal Blue album. The song hit the shelves in 2000. “Bring Me Some Water” describes a heartbroken woman whose lover betrayed her. Her boyfriend cheated on her with another woman. The woman feels weak and vulnerable. Koko Taylor hopes their relationship lasts. She realizes her lover made a mistake, but she can’t express her frustrations about it. Another woman making love to her boyfriend bothers her. She needs water because she feels like she’s burning alive. Koko Taylor can’t stand seeing her man with another woman. She doesn’t want to feel pain.
“Bring Me Some Water” tells a heartbreaking story about a betrayed woman. The woman is in pain and can’t move on. She would do anything to make the pain go away. Infidelity affects some relationships. Moving on from the pain takes work. If someone cheats on you, it’s hard to live with the pain. They would do anything to get rid of it. If the song sounds familiar, Melissa Etheridge recorded it first. Koko Taylor brought her style to the song. Melissa Etheridge’s version is rock-fueled, while Koko Taylor blends blues and rock music. Koko Taylor made this song her own. She recorded a slower version of the single. The soul-stirring guitar riffs are out of this world. It feels like Koko Taylor is talking to you directly. Koko Taylor dealt with health issues when she recorded the song, but it didn’t affect her vocals. She sounds spectacular. Her voice sounds just as good as ever. We applaud Koko Taylor for recording an original version of the song and not a carbon copy. Her version leaves a lasting impression.
# 7 – Ernestine
The seventh pick on our list is “Ernestine.” Koko Taylor recorded the song for her Royal Blue album. It premiered in 2000. The song is a warning to a woman named Ernestine. Koko Taylor warns Ernestine to stay away from her man. She stresses out because the mistress won’t stay away from her man. The singer plans on fighting Ernestine if she doesn’t heed the warning. Koko Taylor warns her of the danger awaiting her.
“Ernestine” is an assertive anthem to a mistress. The song describes a woman who fights for her relationship. She demands that the other woman stay away. It highlights the importance of respecting another person’s relationship. We love her boldness while confronting the other woman. If you see yourself approaching the mistress in your lover’s life, this song gives you courage. We love the drama that unfolds in it. Listening to this song feels like watching a dramatic soap opera. Koko Taylor isn’t afraid to get in someone’s face. The track showcases her storytelling ability. She keeps you hooked throughout the song. Her directness adds to the realism of it. Koko Taylor talks about something that happens all the time. Her powerful vocals make it clear she won’t let anyone mess with her man. She nails this song to perfection. Koko Taylors sings it like someone came after her man. “Ernestine” is the epitome of blues music. It belongs on your playlist because it’s a realistic story about a woman confronting her man’s mistress.
# 6 – Hey Bartender
“Hey Bartender” is the fifth track on the album The Earthshaker. The single debuted in 1978. This song is about being out on the town. She had too much to drink. The singer blew through her money because of alcohol. Drinking helps her calm down. She wants the bartender to keep giving her drinks. The singer meets a friend at the bar, and they party together.
Koko Taylor recorded a lively track about drinking and having fun. Blues singers enjoy talking about alcohol. She tells an exciting story about a woman who lost everything because she partied too much. Instead of focusing on her money problems, she dances the night away. The musicians reel you in once the instrumentation starts. It’s impossible to resist dancing to this track. Pinetop Perkins could give lessons in playing the piano. He is a musical genius at the piano. Vibrant horns and precise guitar riffs invite people to their feet. The song gives you a chance to have fun. It has an upbeat sound despite the gloomy theme. Koko Taylor’s vocals put you in a festive mood. Her grit is on full display. She proves she could go the distance with any blues singer.
# 5 – I’d Rather Go Blind
We’ve reached the halfway point of our Top 10 Koko Taylor Songs list. “I’d Rather Go Blind” appears on the album From the Heart of a Woman. Koko Taylor recorded the song in 1981. “I’d Rather Go Blind” describes a woman in denial about her man. She knows he’s cheating on her, but she refuses to face reality. The singer prefers to go blind than see her lover leave her. Her love for her boyfriend runs deep. She refuses to let him go. The singer holds his memories deep in her heart. These memories bring tears to her eyes because she realizes she’s losing him.
“I’d Rather Go Blind” is a heartbreaking tune about a woman who loves her man too much to let him go. She wants to go blind rather than lose her man. Koko Taylor remade Etta James’ song. She had big shoes to fill because Etta James’ version is a masterpiece. Koko Taylor showed she could handle it. The melody in Etta James’ version is faster than Koko Taylor’s rendition. Etta James recorded a soulful ballad, and Koko Taylor’s version is bluesy. The women sound vulnerable in their versions of the song. Koko Taylor’s vocals sound gut-wrenching. She reaches into her soul and gives you goosebumps. It feels like she wants listeners to forget that there is an original version of the song. Her performance deserves a standing ovation. You hear the raw emotion in her voice as she expresses herself. This version gives Etta James’ rendition a run for its money.
# 4 – I Got What It Takes
“I Got What It Takes” appears on the album of the same name. It debuted in 1975. The song describes a confident woman who makes men do things they wouldn’t do. She has the power to drive men wild. Her charm has men forgetting their names. The singer possesses the ability to make anything happen.
“I’ve Got What It Takes” depicts a confident woman. Her strength lies in her charms. She believes in herself and her abilities to make anyone do what she wants. This song gives women confidence that they can do anything. The standout track is a motivator for women. Women love feeling powerful. It takes confidence to sing a song like this one. Koko Taylor proves she’s confident enough to pull it off. “I Got What It Takes” fuses blues and soul music tremendously. The instrumentation has an old-school vibe. Koko Taylor showcases her belting ability immensely. Her vocals pack a punch as she recites each line with ease. She sings from her diaphragm, allowing listeners to hear the growl in her voice. We salute her for her ability to growl throughout the song without damaging her voice. She takes listeners on an emotional journey. If her vocals are an indicator, we believe she has what it takes.
# 3 – Voodoo Woman
The third song on our list is “Voodoo Woman.” Koko Taylor recorded this single on the I Got What It Takes album. It hit the shelves in 1975. The song is about magical powers. She has supernatural abilities. The singer is aware of her reputation. She knows how she got her nickname. Her presence invokes emotional reactions from people. She sees things other people don’t. The singer describes the different things she uses in her rituals.
“Voodoo Woman” is a mystical song about supernatural abilities. The creative lyrics surprise listeners. Singers rarely record songs with this theme, so this song stands out. “Voodoo Woman” is one of Koko Taylor’s signature songs. It shows off her vocal prowess and dynamic range. Her passionate vocals give the song life. Koko Taylor’s voice flawlessly transitions between soft and powerful moments, showcasing her layered vocals. This track helped popularize blues music. We get lost listening to her sing this track. “Voodoo Woman” is a favorite of blues fans. The classic hit never gets old with listeners.
# 2 – I’m a Woman
“I’m a Woman” appears on The Earthshaker album. She released the song in 1978. The track celebrates the strength of women. It talks about a woman who overcame obstacles and defied expectations. She reminisces about her upbringing. The singer couldn’t change her situation. Her mother’s advice sets her on a path of empowerment. As the song progresses, she talks about her growth as a woman. She’s confident enough to achieve anything she desires.
It’s a powerful anthem about female empowerment. The lyrics highlight a confident personality. Koko Taylor celebrates the strength and resilience of women. “I’m a Woman” cemented her place in blues music. In the past, men dominated blues music. She put an end to that with her impressive catalog. The empowering lyrics encourage women to embrace their strength. It features flawless instrumentation that makes the song come alive. Mervyn Hinds excels on the harmonica. His playing gives the song a down-home-blues-sound. We applaud the other musicians for their contributions to the song. This track makes you feel as if you are in a blues club. It has women raising their hands in triumph. The poignant lyrics resonate with women of all ages. Koko Taylor’s breathtaking vocals set the song on fire.
# 1 – Wang Dang Doodle
The number one song on our Top 10 Koko Taylor Songs list is “Wang Dang Doodle.” She recorded it for her eponymous album. The single premiered in 1969. This track is the ultimate party song. Koko Taylor wants everyone to enjoy themselves. The wild party features guests from all walks of life. People let loose and enjoy themselves. They party until the sun comes up.
It glorifies people coming together and having fun. The song encourages everyone to forget their inhibitions and live in the moment. If you love partying, this track is for you. It encourages listeners to dance and have fun. Her powerful vocals bring life to the lyrics, allowing listeners to feel the energy depicted in this song. Koko Taylor’s unforgettable performance makes it a memorable blues anthem. Don’t let the title fool you. The joyous song is a timeless classic that generations of fans enjoy. It remains popular today because of Koko Taylor’s commanding performance. When she belts, chills go up and down your spine. Her vocals transport you back in time. She recorded it decades ago, but the song remains relevant today.
10 Essential Koko Taylor Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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